Hollywood comes to Albany

Initially, it was just a slightly irritating book title which mixed tenses. Tomorrow, When the War Began.

Then I took the time to read through it, and the sequel, and the one after that and the one after that, all the way up until the seventh. I even read the first instalment of the second series it spawned, but I gave up at that point. Let’s just pretend it was only ever a trilogy, as the original vision went.

So when news of the NZ premiere started trickling in, I entered every competition I could. And wonder of wonders, last week I got an email – I’d won a double pass.

I’ve been to many movie previews before. But I’ve never been to a full on premiere like this, and considering it’s an Australian film, I guess this was almost the equivalent of, say, a London or New York premiere. There were quasi celebs, cameras, interviews. And while I guess it is, as others say, a “kidult” film, at least half of the audience was well out of their teens. These are some well-loved books. (And for some, prescribed high school English novels.)

I won’t talk about how we got there at 7, when the screening was meant to start. Or how we stood and waited for the stars to arrive. Or how our phones were all confiscated. How it was quarter to 8 by the time we were seated inside, or 8 when the lights finally darkened. Or how when it was all over, everyone stampeded to the front of the theatre to scoop up the rest of the unclaimed goodie bags. Some people have no shame.

Instead, I’ll just say that despite the wait, it was a worthy adaptation. The acting, the cinematography, and scenery were all spot on. They knew there was a lot riding on their shoulders, and acknowledged it in an ironic little line about book-to-film conversions- a nice touch.

I don’t recall all the nuances of the first book, but I think the film captured the essence of the novel very well. Basically, it tells the story of seven teenagers who go away on a camping trip and upon their return find that a foreign army has invaded their home and imprisoned their families. Broadly speaking, the first part focuses on characterisation, while the second half of the movie illustrates their fight to survive, and their fight back. Trust me when I say the action scenes are up there with anything American-made.

Minor annoyances – the score, some of the painfully predictable dialogue, and Robyn’s characterisation – it was humorous, yes, but bordering on farcical. And the familiarity of the cast! T immediately recognised Kevin from Home and Away (and so did all the screaming teenage girls); Ellie resembled a darker Emma Watson, Lee was a dead ringer for Heroes‘ Ando, Homer reminded me of Sayid from Lost, and I’m still trying to figure out who Fi’s doppelganger is.

I hope they do well, because the second and third movies would be beyond awesome. And yes, the Australian accents are beyond annoying, but on a global scale, they’re probably easier to understand than ours.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go to the library and track down the books so I can reread them.

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