Based on a novel by John Marsden, Tomorrow, When the War Began is an intense drama about a group of eight teenage friends in a sleepy Australian town. In an attempt to escape the monotony of their lives, they decide to go on a camping trip together. During their first night of camping, lead character Ellie (Stasey) wakes up to the sound of military jets flying above them. Upon returning to their town, they find their homes abandoned, with no power, phone lines, or internet available to them. As events slowly unfold, the friends discover via a radio transmission that their country has been invaded by a military force. The film follows the group as they fight for survival.

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.