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76 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Australia" as seen from another point of view
I did not see this in theatres on release as the trailers made it look like a big, overly wrought romance... a la Gone with the Wind meets Cimarron and not my cup of tea. Nor am I a fan of Nicole Kidman, so no appeal there. And when I finally saw it, I found it nothing like I expected nor was it much like many of the other reviewers have portrayed. Yes, it used broad,...
Published on November 2, 2009 by juuul

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50 of 59 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mostly mediocre with hints of greatness
I know what Baz Luhrmann was attemting to accomplish with Australia. He even hinted at it himself with regards to Gone With The Wind. He wanted a glorious epic of mass proportions but what he really created was a long, beautiful, but sometimes dull film. He strived for perfection but clearly didn't quite make it.

I am a HUGE fan of Moulin Rouge. I love...
Published on February 18, 2009 by Valerya Couto


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76 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Australia" as seen from another point of view, November 2, 2009
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This review is from: Australia (DVD)
I did not see this in theatres on release as the trailers made it look like a big, overly wrought romance... a la Gone with the Wind meets Cimarron and not my cup of tea. Nor am I a fan of Nicole Kidman, so no appeal there. And when I finally saw it, I found it nothing like I expected nor was it much like many of the other reviewers have portrayed. Yes, it used broad, almost stereo-typed characters to carry the "Anglo" story line, and yes, there were actions in the movie that required the "willing suspension of disbelief"; that hardly seems unusual.

However, the thing that made the movie unusual in a most positive way was the telling of the story from the point of view of the racially-mixed "outcast" little boy, Nullah. This introduced an entirely different point of view, signficantly, at least for Americans, of the characters and the story line. While I do not pretend to know much about aboriginal culture, the concepts and importance of "singing" and "stories" were presented sufficiently well to open up the ideas to the large portion of the American audience which likely is unfamiliar with this. A number of strong and appealing cultural ideas were referenced or illustrated either in the dialog / actions of the aboriginal characters or occasionally the brief comments of "The Drover": the geographical mapping of the aborigines through "singing" (music); the importance of one's story and how one connects to the "tribe" / ancestors / universe through "singing" (stories). In fact, the word "sing" as used by Nullah and The Drover in the movie clearly has a richer meaning in this aboriginal context, one which cannot easily be translated directly into American English and which is worth exploring.

I thought Jackman did well in a role that called for a man's man--in American movies cowboys are not too chatty, either...men of action, mostly defined by showing up and doing, so I remain puzzled that other reviewers thought Jackman was too silent. However, the actors that stole the show were the aboriginal actors. Uncle George was marvelous and mystical throughout--totally elegant, grounded, and convincing as the shaman "singing" (guiding with knowledge) his charges through the desert. The Drover's brother-in-law was excellent, playing his role with a quiet dignity.

But this movie was Nullah's story, from beginning to end, and the beautiful Brandon Walters is a revelation as to what a pure talent can produce when given the right chance; for that we can thank Mr. Luhrmann's effort to get that key role right. I do not know who actually did the singing (humming, chanting) which seemed to eminate from Nullah--if it was dubbed or done by Brandon Walters. But this movie has indelibly burned in my mind the earnest, trusting face with huge brown eyes in and the pure, musical tones of the child-mystic when Nullah utters this simple line (and variations on it): "I sing you to me." For this line alone, whether taken as a simple plot facilitator or as a greater metaphor, I would see this movie again and again.
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120 of 138 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Baz salutes Howard Hawks, January 23, 2009
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B. E. Beechler "Doc Beechler" (Indianapolis, IN United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Australia [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
I love Howard Hawks' films...Bringing Up Baby, His Girl Friday, Red River, and Rio Bravo are amazing pieces of entertainment. As I was watching Australia, the new Baz Luhrmann movie with Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman, I kept thinking...man, Baz must really love Hawks' movies, too.

As evidenced by the films above, the mismatched couple who fight and fight until they realize they're perfect for each other (see Much Ado About Nothing, Taming of the Shrew, and Moonlighting as other examples of the form) and the group of underestimated misfits who come together to fight evil are two big elements used again and again by Hawks. Throw in a bit of John Ford's The Searchers and its hard look at racism leading to inhuman deeds and mix well and you have...Australia.

The problem modern audiences may have with Luhrmann's new movie is it's very, very earnest. This is straight ahead epic storytelling with its heart on its sleeve and hat and boots with never a wink to the crowd in the theater to say "ain't these people quaint". You either buy in or you don't. If you do, like I did, you're in for a hell of a ride.

This, I feel, is the flip-side to The Dark Knight. Good and evil are trapped in something akin to a battle and an embrace in Nolan's Gotham City. You root for Batman, but he does stuff that is on the wrong side of freedom and civil rights. The Joker is pure crazy, but he's the most mesmerizing character in the film. In Australia, there are good guys and bad guys and you are either really good or twirl your mustache evil. The main villain actually may be a bit too two-dimensional in that aspect, but it didn't hurt my overall enjoyment.

Why? Well, epic melodrama is hard to pull off...I'm talking about the real stuff here. The recent BBC production of Bleak House is a great example. There are very good and very, very bad people in that story, but the acting is so fantastic you rarely if ever catch yourself rolling your eyes (like whenever I've watched Smallville...see: bad epic melodrama). Kidman and Jackman sell their characters...the displaced Englishwoman and the rough-hewn "Drover". They are thrown together just to, initially it seems, thwart a nasty cattle baron from monopolizing the beef industry in the country. But the other big story, the main one in fact, centers around Australia's "lost generation". These were Aboriginal children who were fathered by white men who didn't claim them. They were taken by the government, the mothers had no rights, and handed over to the church to be taught to "act white" and then work in the servant class. Nullah, played by the fantastic child actor Brandon Walters, is one of these "creamies" who has been hidden on the ranch now owned by Lady Sarah Ashley (Kidman). Lady Ashley discovers what is going on, is horrified by the law, and works to keep him hidden as well. Why the Drover cares so much about Nullah becomes clear later in the film (no, it's not what you think...that would be too easy) and Jackman's experience with stage and musical work does him proud here. He can do earnest better than almost any actor alive when he needs to and his later use of the f-word (the only curse I can remember from the entire film) hits so hard, in just the right emotional moment, that it kills. Russell Crowe was originally cast as the Drover but backed out. If Crowe had done the film, and I have liked him in other things...the Napoleon-era British navy film that I can't remember the name of right now, it would not have worked. Crowe never loses that bit of edge and the Drover, at one point, really has to fully break down and become completely vulnerable. Jackman shines at that point.

Anyway...a warning, the movie is long 2 hours and 40something minutes, but I didn't realize that until I had left the theater. I saw it alone...I was out of town at a pediatrics meeting...and that's a good thing. I didn't have to hide from Holly the few times the movie hit me a bit too hard and do that cough-throat clearing thing we dudes do to cover up a stray tear.
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132 of 158 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who says they don't make em like they used to?, February 4, 2009
This review is from: Australia (DVD)
I was looking forward to seeing this movie when it was release late last year given all the hype, and was not dissappointed!

Director, Baz Luhman, has served up a slab of nostalgia ala Australian style with all those beautiful elements we love from films of the 40's and 50's, breathtaking, sweeping landscapes, gorgeous costumes and two fine actors in Kidman and Jackman who get the essence of the film. It nostalgia in every sense of the word, in every frame. The acting style reminds us of Bogart, Grant, Bacall and Dunne. The story is epic in every way and just lovely. I loved the salute to "The Wizard of Oz"a really nice touch!

Of course we all know how it's going to end. Watching Australia was like eating a box of Quality Street chocolates. Sure I know what I'm getting, but I still love it.

For those of you who want to spend a few hours (and I mean a few; it's almost 3 hours) being completely entertained then thisis the movie for you. I only wished they had inserted an interval on it's theatrical release and made the whole event at the movies a real nostalgic experience.

I can't imagine why anyone wouldn't like this movie, unless you just aren't up for a feel good picture. I want to see more movies being made like this!!!! Well done to all!!!
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50 of 59 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mostly mediocre with hints of greatness, February 18, 2009
This review is from: Australia (DVD)
I know what Baz Luhrmann was attemting to accomplish with Australia. He even hinted at it himself with regards to Gone With The Wind. He wanted a glorious epic of mass proportions but what he really created was a long, beautiful, but sometimes dull film. He strived for perfection but clearly didn't quite make it.

I am a HUGE fan of Moulin Rouge. I love everything about it-the music, the acting, the costumes and the story. I can see some of that shining through in Australia as well. The beautiful array of colors, just splendid choreography and direction, there is no question about that. The problem lies with the script and the plot.

This movie did not need to be over 3 hours long. I do not mind sitting through a film that long- I have done plenty of times before. But there were obvious parts that just dragged and some that were not necessary at all. The parts with the cattle drive were especially tedious, and that was most of the film...

The 'magic' aspect didn't really fit into this. It worked in Moulin Rouge but for obvious reasons. This to me, is more of a serious film with serious issues. Stealing aborigines children and removing them from their home is something that should have been the main aspect of the plot. But it was muddled along with the other, less important subplots. Of course there is a bad guy-nicely played by David Wenham, and a hero-Hugh Jackman.

Jackman is the true gem in this film. He carries basically the entire film and at least makes it more interesting to watch. Nicole Kidman, usually a huge favorite of mine, seemed somewhat lost in this. She appeared to overdo most of her lines and while she looked lovely in her part, it just didn't suit her all that well. I was a bit surprised at that. The little aborigine boy, played by Brandon Walters was a heartwarming surprise. His acting, I thought, was extroadinary.

The climax of the film was more anticlimatic than anything. Just a tad predictable. I am indifferent with how it played out, though the very end gave me a slight lump in my throat...

All in all, a worthy and well-made film. Clearly it took a lot of time and effort on everybody's part and should be commended. It's just not the sweeping epic Baz of the rest of us were hoping for.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great epic film--love it, August 28, 2009
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This review is from: Australia (DVD)
I think one of the most tossed about objections to this film was that it's too long, that it drags out horribly and you're forced to endure to the end. What drew me to the film in the first place was the gorgeous cinematography I noticed in previews--the storyline looked interesting as well, but I was mainly attracted to the breathtaking landscapes and vivid colors. After my first viewing of the film I fell in love with it: the music is simple yet beautifully and creatively woven into the film; the acting I thought was superb; there are at least three storylines to follow through appropriate tension and resolution; and the cinematography was exactly what I'd hoped it would be after seeing the preview. Since first viewing it a few months ago I've watched Australia four times. If you're looking for a beautifully filmed movie with a great story, a convincingly developing female lead and gorgeous music, Australia is the movie for you.
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41 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A DVD for your collection, January 23, 2009
This review is from: Australia (DVD)
I was dragged to the movies over the holidays a feat I never normally enjoy, the usual run of the mill drama, action and romance, blah, blah, blah without the bang.
However when I saw this film I was amazed...

This is a powerful tale, however conceived. With a rock solid story line of love and romance but intermingled is the story of grit, determination and true human reality, Some either missed the facts, The presence of racism and discrimination and the power of the mind, body and soul or they just overlooked it enblock may be the reason it did not get its just ratings in the media.

A movie of Hope, A movie that says you can get it if you really want, Brandon Walters "Nullah" in his "young" role brings across masterfully these goals for life brilliantly.... Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman usual skills aside; David Gulpilil "King George" was sleek in his role. He made clear the section of life we most often forget... in people who have been here before us they have a lot to teach us if only we want to learn.

Australia, this movie, this story could be told basically anywhere in the world, any country within the reach of colonization and imperialism and the destruction of indigenous people and their way of life.

Romance Reality Drama Action and yes Comedy included. This was one of the best I have seen in quite a while,,,,, 3 Three Times over. And I will be watching for years to come. A must for any collector.
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70 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Film of 2008, January 31, 2009
This review is from: Australia (DVD)
This movie was by far my favorite of 2008, even with such crowd-pleasers such as The Dark Knight and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. It's story is well formulated, honest, and believable. The acting is superb, with Hugh Jackman stealing his scenes and Nicole Kidman has the most developed character of any film she has ever done. Sprinkled intermittently with comedic moments, Australia is presented in a raw, emotional format with a hint of epic provided by the sweeping wide-angle shots of Australia's scenery. This film deserved more ratings and awards than it has won, and it's Baz's best movie yet. Yes. Better than "Moulin Rouge!". Best of 2008!
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine story of love, culture, and history!, February 4, 2009
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This review is from: Australia (DVD)
Having seen the movie more than once has given me a more nuanced appreciation of this epic movie. Its storyline tackles the relationship between two people coming from different cultures who eventually found themselves together -- initially at odds, in love, and part of a family unit -- all amidst the backdrop of the sprawling Australian outback, the divide of races and social strata, the age-old clash between good and evil, and the onset of the second world war in the Pacific! The movie experience is like curling up with an extraordinary epic novel - and at the end feeling what a well-spent afternoon it has been!

The movie's length does justice to this tale of love and adventure in a faraway culture and of unusual natural beauty. The cinematography provides all the lush scenes of the Australian landscape, the rush of blood in some of the most awesome action scenes, and the loving closeups of the story of the relationship between Lady Sarah Ashley, The Drover, and their defacto son, Nullah! The musical score gives the movie the perfect complement to the excellent cinematography. The story unwinds from an initial meeting full of comedic winks ( including the now famous shower scene - featuring the leading man!) and clashing cultures. It then dawns on the central role played by the child Nullah and his aboriginal culture. Plus what would an epic movie be without the quintessential villains? As the movie progresses and we witness the triumph of the independent cattle company versus the monopoly, it also gives us a slice of Australian history and its development in its early frontiers. When the second world war breaks out and it marches down to Darwin, we are caught in another story between good and evil, so cinematically well-portrayed. And they lived happily ever after, with a twist --the expected end of a truly epic movie!

Who are the main characters and how are they portrayed?

Lady Sarah Ashley is the English rose who became an adopted daughter of the Australian frontier. She is transformed into a loving nurturer of a child and the harsh land because the relationship which came into her life also changed her outlook. Nicole Kidman very ably portrays this complicated woman who changes from a non-sympathetic character to a caring heroine. This transformation is so well portrayed in the changing face of Lady Ashley - from the very beautiful and well-turned out woman to the woman whose inner beauty shines through her bedgraggled locks and almost plain face and through her pained expression as she undergoes tragedy and is touched by sorrow, and finally to the look of someone who has come to terms with what is important in life. This is one of Nicole's best movie portrayals!

The Drover has a mysterious past and a rough image as we are first introduced to him. He is a man who is iconic in the history of the outback but it was his reaching out to the shunned aboriginal community in the past which showed that he was an extraordinary man. In the song by Elton John, played second in the movie credits, called The Drover's Ballad, his story turns out to be rich in tragedy and a life full of love for the outback, which gives us more of a complete picture of this man with a heart of gold. The tragic life seems to follow him even much later in the movie - and this is where he shows his heart on his sleeve! Hugh Jackman is magnificent in the role and it is hard to imagine anybody else giving a more masterful performance. The magnificence is not just in how he looked ( Baz Luhrmann did show Hugh Jackman as the representation of physical perfection...surprisingly, because the other choice was Nicole Kidman) but also in his acting chops. There are several scenes where Hugh displays his acting range at the highest emotional level - when he realizes that the people he loved may have become victims of the tragedy of war...and then the realization that fate had actually been kinder. Who can't help but be mesmerized by his face and his voice in the scene by the burning war HQ and at the ruined bar, in the Mission Island rescue, and at the wharf in Darwin? Had the past of the drover been more meaningfully played out on the screen, the role could have garnered Hugh an award recognition!

The third important role is the child Nullah, as charmingly portrayed by a new child actor named Brandon Walters. He charms everyone except the villain. He is in a sense at the heart of the story and Brandon makes us follow Nullah's journey with almost a maternal/paternal eye for his welfare in the story. At the end, he is conflicted about his real family and culture, but I am sure that when Nullah grows up, it will both cultures and both families that he will truly call his own!

Kudos likewise to the actors who portrayed the main villain, the iconic aboriginal character, the Drover's friend and main man, even the hotel keeper and his gruff ways...as well as to the other Australian actors who gave life to this epic story.

The creatives have done well to transform such a tale magnificently on screen! Baz Luhrmann provides the vision and the direction of the story-telling with such interesting and charismatic characters and amidst a magnificent background of natural beauty, culture, and slices of history!

While the movie could only be given full justice in a cinema with its impressive big screen and excellent sound, I would still love to get a DVD/blu-ray version to allow me to see it again and again - much like wanting to read and re-read a very good epic novel!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Terrible mishmash and historically inaccurate, June 22, 2009
This review is from: Australia (DVD)
The first half of this monster of a movie was quite enjoyable. It depicts a desperate cattle drive through the desert to the port of Darwin. I thought I was watching an Aussie version of "Red River." Nicole Kidman playing the terribly proper English aristocrat Lady Sarah Ashley winds up on a cattle ranch in the middle of the outback to sort out her dissolute husband -- but finds him dead. She teams up with High Jackman's character, known pretentiously only as "Drover" which happens to be his profession. Kidman performs with restraint but Jackson imbues his character with all the realism of a bed knob.
Also involved is an Aboriginal mixed-race child called "Nullah" who is likably played by Brandon Walters. Meanwhile the child's father, the evil "Fletcher" is working to sabotage the cattle drive so he can take over the land.
The photography of the desert scenary is spectacular and this first half of the movie has a narrative thrust and power that kept me quite enthralled. The cattle drive ends successfully -- and that's where the movie should have ended too. Unfortunately, director Baz Luhrmann is intent on making a major statement about Australian history, racism, the Japanese air raid on Darwin, the nature of love and desire and heaven knows what else. Now we're in another movie -- an Aussie version of "Pearl Harbor" mixed with "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner." On and on the movie grinds -- the music swells as Luuhrmann presses every emotional button that's available. The central incident in this part of the movie is a Japanese attack on an island where Nullah has been taken to attend a mission school. Japanse troops land on the island determined to kill everyone there. This is entirely fictitious. The Japanese never landed on the island. Drover and his sidekicks mount a daring rescue mission. Everyone is joyouysly reunited and the movie finally takes mercy on its viewers and ends.
Too long, too pretentious, too manipulative.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars See It For the Boy, September 9, 2010
This review is from: Australia (DVD)
Australia is the story of a well-bred but meddlesome English woman Lady Ashley (Nicole Kidman) who decides to go to Australia to check up on her husband's affairs there. When she arrives, she is met by a rough bachelor called Drover (Hugh Jackman) who takes her to her husband's property, only to discover that he has been killed. The murder is blamed on the natives, but Lady Ashley quickly finds that something is afoot with the cattle boss (David Wenham) and she promptly fires him.

Without someone to drive her cattle, Lady Ashley is forced to care for the land herself, and she must make a quick go of it. She becomes "Miss Boss" to the natives, and her forceful nature and womanly touch makes her a better candidate for the job than one might have first expected.

The story is long and very predictable. It is obvious that most of the auxiliary characters will die, and the storyline doesn't make these deaths very surprising. The author wanted us to feel sad, but not in such a way that would affect the story too much.

The scenery is beautiful, but that doesn't make a film great. Aside from that, the best part of the film is Brandon Walters who plays the makeshift son of Lady Ashley and Drover. The old adage about kids in film seems true here. Although Kidman and Jackman are well known for their acting skills, this boy steals every scene from them. He is charming, intelligent, and his lingo is very entertaining. He is an Aboriginal boy, and an incredibly talented one at that. Here is to hoping we see him again on the screen.
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Australia
Australia by Baz Luhrmann (DVD - 2009)
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