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Film / Tomorrow: When the War Began

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Tomorrow, When the War Began is a 2010 film adaptation of the first book of The Tomorrow Series by John Marsden. The story follows high schooler Ellie Linton and with her six friends fighting a guerrilla war against an enemy garrison in the town of Wirrawee in New South Wales.

This film provides examples of:

  • Abandoned Playground: The scene of Robyn's shootout near the bridge at the climax of the movie.
  • Abusive Parent: Implied that Fi's mother is an emotionally abusive version of this. She sneers in disbelief when Fi asks her if she can go camping in the bush for the weekend, mocking the notion a bit (although to be fair Fi is a bit of a Fish out of Water there), and later, Fi also mentions that her mom told her she wasn't pretty enough to compete in a beauty contest that she herself had won while a high-schooler (something no one else agrees with).
  • Adaptation Decay: Lampshaded - Corrie is reading a book, and when Ellie asks what she thinks of it, she replies, "Better than the movie." Ellie comments in response, "Books usually are."
  • Adaptation Distillation: The movie itself, which retains the action sequences but keeps the book's focus on character development.
  • Aerosol Flamethrower: Lee uses one to get the cattle stampeded.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Ellie talking into a camera recording. She also serves as The Narrator.
  • Bald of Evil: The soldier who executes an angry prisoner.
  • Berserk Button: Ellie really rips Chris a new one, and actually threatens to shoot him when she finds he's fallen asleep on watch.
  • Black Comedy: Chris's stoned description of finding his neighbors, including their infant daughter, shot dead in their car Crosses the Line Twice.
  • Captain Obvious:
    Robyn: You're bleeding!
  • Car Chase: Garbage truck vs. M60-equipped Fast Attack Vehicle. Truck = 2, FAV = 0.
  • Car Fu: One of the FAVs mentioned above first gets tangled in electric cables, then hit so hard by Ellie's garbage truck that it gets smashed into the second floor of a nearby building.
  • Cell Phones Are Useless: Kevin draws attention to the fact that there's no cellphone reception in Hell as it's too isolated early on. When they return to town to discover that it's largely abandoned, they all check their cell phones in unison, only to discover that they still cannot get reception (presumably as the invading army knocked out the towers). This explains away why no one tried to contact them via phone to warn them, and why they don't use their phones to stay in contact later when they have to split up. The book on which it is based was written before cell phones became so ubiquitous among teenagers.
  • Comic Relief: Although the situation invariably stays grim no matter what he says, Homer's constant joking and snarky attitude occasionally helps to take the edge off the worst horrors.
  • Concealment Equals Cover: The two girls driving the garbage truck are partially protected by the front scoop (though not the windshield) and heavy steel rubbish container, but there are several moments when they're being shot at from the sides by auto-rifles and medium machine guns. Averted on the occasion when one of them drops a roller door only for several bullets to punch through (she's already ducked out of the way).
  • Contemplate Our Navels: Ellie and Corrie sit in their old playhouse and muse about how they've lost their innocence and nothing will ever be the same.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Everyone has their moments, but Ellie and Homer take the cake. There are scenes where the two of them practically run on nothing but Sarcasm Mode.
  • Death from Above: Foreshadowed when Lee insists they park the Land Rover under cover rather than leaving it out in the open.
  • Dirty Coward: When Ellie and Corrie get pinned down by automatic fire during their first contact with the enemy soldiers, Kevin takes a moment to stare in horror before he hightails it out of there. He returns barely a minute later, but still, Corrie is deeply hurt by this action of his. In the end he redeems himself when he surrenders to the Coalition together with her after she's been shot.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Homer gets tackled while he's staring at Fi taking off her shirt to reveal her bikini.
  • Dr. Jerk: The dentist who treats Lee's bullet wound is jumpy, abrasive and anything but subtle with his words, but considering the situation he's in and the risk he's taking, it's probably justified.
  • Dumb Blonde: Fi.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Somewhat justified when they open the gas tank first. On other occasions...
  • Everyone Owns a Mac: The only computer we get a good look at is farm girl Ellie's Macbook.
  • Fanservice: The whole cast consist almost entirely of ridiculously beautiful young people. All the boys get their Walking Shirtless Scene, Fi gets a gorgeous slow-mo shot to reveal her red bikini, and neither Ellie nor Corrie are shy about flaunting their incredible looks. Ellie even explicitly assures Fi she's beautiful when the latter reveals how she's never had a boyfriend to date.
  • Good Guns, Bad Guns / Improperly Placed Firearms: The Coalition mooks carry AK47's, unlike in the novels. Yet they also have American Fast Attack Vehicles and Kevlar helmets with samurai-like headpieces.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: There's no lie involved that it's a movie about an invasion of Australia, but the "Teens going camping" part goes on long enough you start to forget what the movie's eventually about.
  • Hard-to-Light Fire: The two girls who drive the tanker-truck and prepare the petrol-soaked rope to blow up the bridge both thought the other girl brought the lighter.
  • Heroic BSoD: Poor Robyn. Ellie also breaks down when Corrie is shot and they have to retreat without her and Kevin.
  • Just Plane Wrong: A minor case of it compared to the egregious examples in the books. The enemy fighters look like the fuselage of an F-16 with the wings of a Mirage III-O grafted to it.
    • They may have been Chinese J-10s, which have features from both craft (Delta wings, chin intake, single engine). The J-10 would fit with the distinctly modern PLA design of the enemy uniforms.
    • Furthermore, the enemy helicopter is a Robinson R44, arguably the least threatening civilian helicopter out there.
      • It's not just the planes, either: when a enemy fighter launches a missile, it's fuselage is red. Training missiles are red, but a real one would still be gray steel.
  • Kill It with Fire: Ellie improvises a fire-bomb from a gas canister to use against pursuing soldiers. It works awesomely.
  • Ladies and Germs / My Friends... and Zoidberg
    Ellie: Ladies and gentlemen...
    Homer belches.
    Ellie: ...and Homer...
  • Lock-and-Load Montage: The original low-key ending was replaced by the group taking captured weapons out of a crate, strapping them on and standing against the skyline in defiant poses.
  • Made of Explodium: Amazingly enough, even worse in the movie than the books. The bridge itself explodes after the tanker truck has.
  • More Dakka: At least a dozen automatic weapons open fire on Ellie within moments of her being discovered by a sentry when the group scouts out the concentration camp. The hail of bullets results in a lot of Stuff Blowing Up.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Most of the cast members have this reaction when they're forced to kill someone for the first time. Nice Girl Robyn probably gets it worst due to her Christian pacifist view.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: When Ellie scores her first desperate kills with her makeshift gas canister bomb, she notes that the scorched soldier lying before her must've been about her age, and it's quite likely she was no more willing to fight this war than Ellie is.
  • Open Heart Dentistry: When Lee's leg is wounded he gets fixed up by the local dentist.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Averted. When the angry prisoner gets shot dead, the bullet visibly blows his brains out the back of his skull.
  • Scenery Porn
  • Shirtless Scene: Every male cast member at Hell.
  • Shout-Out: Homer at one point re-enacts Gandalf's famous "You shall not pass!" scene from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.
  • Spray And Pray: Averted when Homer (who's used to firearms) fires just a couple of aimed shots at the helicopter from their captured AK47. Later when the inexperienced Robyn fires she empties the magazine.
  • The Stoner: Chris.
  • Tempting Fate: Ellie clearly brings upon the entire invasion by asking her parents what could possibly happen while they're away camping.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Robyn is a Christian pacifist initially who believes this. Later she abandons this to save Fi and Ellie, taking up arms along with the rest.
  • Token Religious Teammate: Robyn.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Kevin almost bites it and risks the lives of the entire group when he runs back for his dog while an airstrike on his position is imminent.
    • And telling a very justifiably pissed-off woman "Must be that time of the month" is not a good idea! Particularly when she's got a fully-loaded AK assault rifle in her hands!
  • Took a Level in Badass: Most of the cast goes from innocent teenagers to hardened guerrilla fighters over the course of the movie.
  • Viewer-Friendly Interface: The text messages that Corrie sends Ellie on her mobile phone appear in large, easy-to-read text, as does the "out of service" message.
  • We Need a Distraction: The cattle stampede.
  • Yellow Peril: The invaders, though belonging to no obvious country (in fact a coalition in the movie), appear to be Asian in origin.
  • Youth Is Wasted on the Dumb: Being teenagers who have never experienced danger before, some of the kids make some foolhardy mistakes.
    • For example, a risky mission to blow up a heavily guarded bridge is really not the time to gossip about boys.
  • Zerg Rush: A radio broadcast mentions that the Coalition invaded Australia with about half a million men-they landed via cargo planes and ships. For comparison: the Australian military numbers less than 60,000 active troops. It's not entirely clear how those fared against the invaders, but the fact that the Coalition has troops to spare for seizing the protagonists' small rural hometown hints at a Curb-Stomp Battle against Australia. In an earlier scene they watch a single Royal Australian Air Force fighter being chased and then destroyed by three of the enemy, likely hinting at the disparity with numbers. However, in a real war the US would intervene to help Australia due to a treaty between them.