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A romantic action-adventure epic set in Australia prior to World War II that centers on an English aristocrat (Nicole Kidman) who inherits a large ranch. When English cattle barons plot to take her land, she reluctantly joins forces with a rough-hewn cattle drover (Hugh Jackman) to protect her ranch. Together they experience four life-altering years, a love affair and the bombing of Darwin during World War II.
Watching the early reels of Australia, there's certainly no doubt who's in charge: this could only be a film by Baz Luhrmann, that wacky purveyor of all things over-the-top. In this old-fashioned, 165-minute hymn to his native continent, Luhrmann travels back to the late 1930s/early '40s, for a scenario that would not have been out of place at MGM in that era. Straightlaced Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman) journeys Down Under and is put under the protection of--crikey--a rugged cattle driver known only as the Drover (Hugh Jackman). When the two are forced to team up (along with a motley crew of misfits) to take a herd of cattle through the hostile landscape, their way is challenged by the dastardly plans of the local beef baron (Bryan Brown) and his elaborately evil lieutenant (David Wenham). At some point you realize that this film's main commodity is not cattle, but corn: Luhrmann piles on the melodrama and the old-school climaxes with his usual frantic glee. Employing "When You Wish Upon a Star" and the Japanese air force to make his case is not beyond Luhrmann, and he reaches big here. Those with a taste for un-ironic silliness might just go for this stuff, but even fans of the Baz will have their patience tested by the broad comedy and the absence of discernable chemistry between Kidman and Jackman. Australia does manage to skewer the culture's prejudices against the Aboriginal people, but in this context such a victory comes across as rather tinny. --Robert Horton
Stills from Australia (Click for larger image)
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Top Customer Reviews
Amazing movie that will touch your heart and brings out the not-so-well-known story of what happened to the Natives of Australia. The only downfall to this movie is the length...just when you think the movie is going to end, it keeps going!! This movie has the feel of an epic, like Gone With the Wind, and is classified as an epic. So therefor when you watch it, your initial response will be, "This is epic!"
I have two criticisms: one being the script takes some liberties behind the history of the bombing of Darwin by the Japanese, which happened BUT there was much unwarranted tension made in the film which could have been written and directed in a different way to have the same effect on viewers. Also, keep in mind this is a Baz Lurhmann film, which means the first 15 minutes has manic editing and cinemetography which will make you a little bewildered - all because Lurhmann does this during exposition scenes and it feels irritating. Outside of that, the director does a good job when the scenes settle down and also when there's a lot of action that goes on. The best scene is definitely when the team of drovers attempt to stop a stampede. Baz also has developed a good soundtrack for the film and there's a lot of great musical themes that transition through the film - if that's something you enjoy a lot.
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