Saturday, November 29, 2008
Movie Reviews: AUSTRALIA
An English aristocrat inherits an Australian ranch the size of Maryland. When English cattle barons plot to take her land, she reluctantly joins forces with a rough-hewn cattle driver to drive 2,000-head of cattle across hundreds of miles of the country's most unforgiving land, only to still face the bombing of Darwin by the Japanese forces that had attacked Pearl Harbor only months earlier.
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, David Wenham, Bryan Brown, Jack Thompson
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Opened November 26, 2008
Runtime: 2 hr. 45 min.
Rated PG-13 for some violence, a scene of sensuality, and brief strong language
Genres: War Adventure, Adventure
Baz Lurhrman has never been the type of director to do anything small and subtle; Australia is as large a film as the continent it's named after. A throwback to films like Giant, Gone with the Wind and Out of Africa, Lurhman's new film is unabashedly excessive. It's a massive film that's filled with enough melodrama to cover a few films. Still, once the emotional points come its surprisingly effective at pulling those Visually, Lurhrman gives us a cornucopia of feast for the eyes. Massive wide shot of the wonderful Australian landscape are peppered throughout this film. Sadly, Lurhrman overuses CGI so bad it's hard not to be jarred by it. Equally shoddy is the script that borders on parody, mostly at the start, at times. That being said, it's effective enough to do the job. This is due mostly to the fine cast assembled here. Jackman and Kidman play their broad characters extremely well which are helped by their wonderful on screen chemistry. Jackman brings an old school masculinity to his character but keeps him from falling off the handle and turning into a cartoon. Kidman works her way into her role becoming more and more comfortable as the film moves along. Brandon Walters more than holds his own against these big screen titans giving his character Nullah more depth than most young actors could. Aboriginal actor David Gulpilil hovers over the film like a watchful deity. Running close to 3 hours this is the type of film that will either grab you from the start or turn you off. The start is a bit bumpy as we are given very broad slapstick humor in it's first act but by the second and third act it gets it's footing a bit more. By then of course you will have either loved the ride or loathed the tedium. Tonal and plot points shift throughout the entire film and it could make for a maddening experience if you allow it. Still, one can't ignore Luhrmann talent and his grandiose style has always been enjoyable to me. Australia is an experience and its sweeping epic romance may not be for everyone but if you dare give it a chance you may find much to enjoy here.