Review of 'Australia'

australia.jpg It is 1939, the Second World War is just underway but Pearl Harbour has not yet come into the picture. English aristocrat Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman) travels to Australia to ensure her large Australian ranch “Faraway Downs” is sold at an appropriate price by her husband only to find her husband killed by an Aboriginal man. On arrival she befriends Nullah (Brandon Walters), a young Aboriginal child as well as the staff of the ranch. Drover (Hugh Jackman) is a “drover” (droving cattle) who is puzzled by this creature from a different culture but takes a liking to her quite quickly. To save the estate a plan is hatched to drove the entire herd of cattle to Darwin, many days away, to sell to the army. The problem being that her drover Neil Fletcher (David Wenham) was found stealing by Lady Ashley when she arrived and promptly left along with his team. She convinces Drover to head up the team of those that are left to drive the cattle to Darwin. The trip is filled with adventure along with the ever looming inevitability of the attack of the Japanese air force on Darwin shortly after Pearl Harbour…

I have to admit Baz Luhurmann has been a favourite director of mine ever since I saw, what I believe to be a delightful film, Moulin Rouge. I was not so keen on Romeo + Julliet but it was, nonetheless, still entertaining. Here Baz is going for a more serious drama with not so much of the big, brass, musical score. We do have the trademark wild camera moves which, I have to admit, often make the viewer dizzy rather than add anything to the story but other times they are incredibly impressive. The CG is, at times, overdone but it does, again, match what Baz has done on previous films giving Australia a similar feel.

Kidman is fairly over the top and a bit one-dimensional but, of course, mellows as the movie goes on and she falls to the lure of Australia (and Drover). Jackman is a bit more realistic but also quite one-dimensional, cracking a smile only occasionally. Brandon Walters, as Nullah, is the bright part of the picture with his wonderful eyes but not entirely convincing portrayal of the young Aboriginee (charming nonetheless).

I found the story a bit confusing at times, particularly at the beginning, where a lot of dialogue is used to explain things and introduce the characters particularly with the differing accents. The story never really lets up from the action and excitement with even the drove to Darwin having a great deal of excitment. Much of the story is a bit hard to believe and why (hoping to give nothing away) do we always have to have a happy ending? Nonetheless, quite enjoyable…

Rating: “It is OK but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2011-09-24

Directed by: Baz Luhrmann

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox

Year: 2008

Length: 158 minutes

Genre: Action/Adventure

Other reviewed films by Baz Luhrmann: