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Tomorrow, When the War Began: Unrealistic War Drama
This is ultimately a war film, but the story doesn’t subscribe to the same traditional elements of the genre. Rather than focusing on the battle and the politics of war on a grander scale, it looks at it from a civilian’s point of view. While the characters are numerous, the attempt to cover a broad cross section of personalities often ends up in a portrayal of clichéd stereotypes.
A film that relies so heavily on a character-driven plot, naturally also relies on the performance of its actors. Unfortunately, the young cast fails to deliver, and the film as a whole lacks the drama and action that you’d expect from a subject matter like this one.
The brief and infrequent action scenes stand out as impressive and entertaining, but at times border on the ridiculous. In one scene for example, heavily armed military vehicles are pursuing two girls in a truck, and are powerless to apprehend it.
Tomorrow, When the War Began is an overall weak production that lacks realism, intensity, and features a distinctively average cast. The green light has been given to produce the sequel, which is based on the second novel in the Tomorrow series, with the third part also being considered. Picking up where this film finishes, the sequel will hopefully develop the series into a better watch.
Directly and unapologetically inspired by Disneyland’s futuristic theme park ride of the same name, one might well argue that Tomorrowland is marketing ploy, designed as a sly attempt to drive more traffic the ‘Most Magical Place on Earth’. But Brad Bird’s science-fiction adventure managed to soften this writer’s admittedly cynical heart.
Tomorrowland is centred on Casey Newton (Robertson); an intelligent and driven young woman – and daughter of a NASA engineer, Eddie Newton (McGraw) – who sees the world through rose-tinted glasses. Unexpectedly gifted a mysterious looking pin, Casey soon gets access and a sneak peek into a parallel dimension called Tomorrowland – a land where only the best artists, dreamers and visionaries reside. There, she meets an Audio-Android named Anthea (Cassidy) who eventually sends her on a path to Frank Walker (Clooney); a pessimistic and sceptical man who was once a brilliant and an equally optimistic young inventor.
See, Frank used to be a resident of Tomorrowland but, after learning of the community’s secrets, was kicked out by the dimension’s leader, Nix (Laurie). He has no desire of ever returning - let alone break down the door that has long been shut away from the pessimism of the real world - but he soon buckles under Casey’s relentless optimism as they embark on an adventure.
Bird creates a visually grand and immersing futuristic world; one filled with plenty of imagination, action and colour which will leave audiences with plenty of memorable moments. However, the heavy use of CGI gives the film a bit of an unintentional coldness and the script suffers similarly. The plot and the characters have plenty of heart, but much of the film is spent explaining the finer details of its fantasy world, rather than just letting them play out organically.
As expected, the cast is solid; Clooney is his usual charming self and the chemistry between him and Robertson – previously seen in Nicholas Spark’s The Longest Ride – navigates the story affectively, while Laurie channels his inner-House – successfully of course.
Driven by a series of bold ideas and fuelled by powerful sentiments of positivity and hope, not everything is ideal in Brad Bird’s earnestly optimistic world of Tomorrowland; it’s an intriguing and ambitious science-fiction entry that, despite its flaws, still manages to serve up a pleasing family-friendly movie-going experience.
Spooks: The Greater Good, the big-screen treatment of the long-running BBC television series, comes almost four years after the show’s exit from the small-screen. Known for its devastating twists, fans of the original show will be pleased with Bharat Nalluri’s commendable effort, although those who aren't familiar with it, might feel a little lost in the process and even a little underwhelmed with the end-result.
The adaptation sees Peter Firth reprise his role as the unflinching and emotionless MI5 chief, Sir. Harry Pearce, and the film opens with a long opening credits sequence showing Pearce taking the heat for the escape of a Middle Eastern Terrorist, Adem Qasim (Gabel) during a botched prison transfer from MI5 to the CIA. Taking full responsibility for the escape, he is soon forced to resign from service and, as a result, fakes his own suicide and goes rogue, which triggers an investigation. The man given the find out what happened to Harry is – dramatic pause – his former protégé, Will Holloway, ably played by Game of Thrones hunk, Kit Harrington.
Written by Jonathan Brackley and Sam Vincent, there’s a distinct sense of grittiness and realism that is often missing from similar productions across the pond in Hollywood. The tone is applied well to what is a heavy mix of traditional and modern elements of espionage films and the twists and turns are aplenty – perhaps a little too many to keep a steady track of. But the urgency behind each and every one of them can be felt throughout. Sadly, however, the film’s faults are of its own doing; produced on a relatively modest budget, it tries a little too hard to impress and it’s only when it tries to move things into the kind of grandeur and ambitious action set-pieces associated with its Hollywood peers that it falls a little short.
Firth, who has been playing the same role for the past ten years, is unsurprisingly convincing as the ex-MI5 Head of Intelligence Chief, though Harington doesn’t shake off his pretty-boy persona enough to be as affective. Visually, the film is a winner and the silvery-blue aesthetic it’s coated in perfectly communicates the murky winters of London and the aforementioned gritty tone. There’s a lot to commend in Spooks: The Greater Good, but at the end of the day it offers nothing new to the genre and it’s big-screen adaptation just needed to be more daring and step out of the confines of television.