Australia (2008) Poster


User Reviews

Review this title
481 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
Baz Luhrmann Stumbles Through This Sweeping Australian Love Story
jaredpahl29 August 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Australia is the kind of grand movie romance that defined classic Hollywood. It's got all the important ingredients: A pair of movie stars, exotic locales, and a heaping helping of melodrama. In the capable hands of Aussie director Baz Luhrmann, who knows a thing or two about movie love stories (Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge), Australia had 'classic' written all over it. Maybe with expectations that high, Australia was bound to disappoint. In any case, Australia is certainly not all it can be.

Much like Gone With the Wind, Titanic, or Out of Africa, Australia is a romantic epic that tells the story of an upperclass woman who falls for a dashing rogue. And that's not where the story similarities stop. Australia also takes place in a unique natural landscape and it's set against an important historical event. Australia is not just similar in story construction to these Hollywood classics, it is a direct variation on them. I don't hold that against Australia. The formula obviously works, and if you can put a worthwhile spin on it, I'm all in. Australia has a distinct Aussie flavor, and it's commentary on Australia's Stolen Generation is something we haven't seen in mainstream Hollywood. The cast is made up of just about every major Australian actor working, with welcome turns by David Wenham, Bill Hunter and Ray Barrett to highlight a few . Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman star, and they are exactly what they need to be. Kidman does her thing as the uptight English outsider, and Jackman was born to play the bushman with a heart of gold. There is almost nothing I can say against the structure of Australia. This exact story has been done before, and done very well.

As much as I hate to admit it, because I really like him as a filmmaker, Australia's problems start and end with Luhrmann. I suppose he must have had a passion for telling this story. He is Australian, and I'm sure he felt an obligation to do justice to the country's history, specifically the Stolen Generation, but you can't really see that passion on the screen. This is a sloppy piece of work. For starters, Luhrmann never quite finds the right tone for the story. The introductory scenes are kind of playful and more than a little humorous, but as the film moves along, the melodrama begins to take hold. It gives the film a jittery back and forth feeling, as if competing ideas of what type of movie this should be were all thrown in together, elbowing each other for space.

The bigger blunder from Luhrmann is the look of the movie. The Australian Outback is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. It doesn't take much to translate that beauty to the screen. And while there are, by sheer volume, plenty of breathtaking vistas on display in Australia, there are far too many ugly ones. Luhrmann relies heavily on sound stages and CGI backgrounds. Digital enhancement is, of course, not a dealbreaker in itself, but the CGI here is so bad, pervasive, and needless that it almost does spoil the rest of the film. There is absolutely no need for this much CGI in a romantic Hollywood epic, especially CGI that looks like a PlayStation 2 game. There is a long, pivotal, cattle driving scene in the middle of the film, and I didn't believe that environment for one second. This is a production that is calling out for old-fashioned filmmaking, and Luhrmann it seems, doesn't have that in him. At least not fully. He tries to have his cake and eat it too when it comes to balancing the art-house elements he's famous for and the traditional elements the material calls for. The result is a movie that is not artsy enough to separate itself from its obvious inspirations, And not traditional enough to stand alongside them.

This is a movie stuck in, well, No Man's Land. Luhrmann wants Australia to be a grounded drama about Australian history but he also wants a magic realism tale about an aboriginal twilight. It is not impossible to do both, but Luhrmann only gives half his attention to each. I'm being hard on Australia only because I know it could have been great. The final product is not a bad movie. There is a surplus of ambition and conviction in both leading actors, Kidman and Jackman, and in Luhrmann as the director. This is a solid tale with enough admirable craftsmanship to get a pass from me, but given its potential, Australia is a major disappointment.

15 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Old-style epic romantic movie
Imdbidia22 February 2011
An entertaining romantic drama by Buz Luhrmann, old-Hollywood style.

The movie is set in the Northern Territory of Australia in the years previous to the involvement of Japan in the WW II, and tells the story of Sarah Ashley -an English lady who goes to Australia to try to get her husband back to England and ends becoming the head of their Australian cattle farm-, Drover -an independent free-spirited cattle and horse drover that works for her- and Nullah -a half-caste Aboriginal child who lives in the farm and struggles to live in a world in which he's alien to both blacks and whites.

This is one of those movies that you can say it is done as the movies of the golden era of Hollywood used to be - flashy wonderfully well-looking movie stars, great scenery and great studio settings, detailed recreation of the era's fashion, decoration, atmosphere, etc., , and a simple epic plot with a great love story. Australia has all of this, but also a little bit of corn, a thin plot, weak characters and flaws that are even more noticeable in a super-production like this.

The script is uneven and Manichean (with angels and demons) and mixes several movie genres (romantic comedy, romantic drama, war movie, western movie, and Aboriginal movie) with different degrees of success. The characters are descriptive and without emotional depth, and that affects the acting. However, I loved the depiction of the magic and wisdom of Aboriginal Australians, which is really well presented, with its magic beliefs and philosophical and environmental approach to the world. I think that part is truly genuine and real and reaches the viewer. I also loved that Lady Ashley's character is the one of a true modern woman, as she is a strong-willed free woman, a boss, the boss of her man, a woman who always leads, never submissive or afraid of being alone if she doesn't get what she wants. That's a post-modern woman, so rare to see in cinema nowadays.

The acting is unconvincing on the part of the leading actors. Hugh Jackman's performance is just OK in his role, while Nicole Kidman disappoints in the comic part of the movie, as she seems not to relax when she does so, but she warms up to her usual self when the story becomes more dramatic; she looks beautiful in this movie, like a 50s movie star, although those inflated siliconed lips were a distraction... Jackman and Kidman make a great couple, but their chemistry on camera was nothing memorable and you see yourself seeing two actors playing a couple, not a real couple on screen.

Most supporting actors are good in their roles, especially the Aboriginal ones, who really shine in this film. David Gulpilil is simply terrific, completely believable and inspired in his role of the Aboriginal Elder King George. Brandon Walters, despite his youth, offers a memorable performance, and his face really lights up the screen. Also great is the actor who plays Drove's Aboriginal pal, who also offers a solid performance. They are the ones who really give soul to the movie.

Despite what you might expect, the cinematography is poor. I was expecting the rare beauty of the Northern Territory to be captured by the always stylish and colorful Luhrmann. However, the part of the movie that happens during the dry season is completely opaque and colorless, ugly to watch, while the scenes happening during the rainy season are again limited in colors.To my disenchantment, many of the most colorful and beautiful scenes are digitally created or enhanced, while others seem to have been shot in big studios. Just the Mission island seems to convey that luxurious real feeling of the NT vegetation. Some of the most beautiful bits of the real land, the aerial vistas, look like if they had been taken for a documentary for National Geographic. Where is the emotional connection of the story with the land? In other words, the viewer doesn't go beyond what the eyes see. So, one wonders, why the movie was called Australia and why it was sold as a movie that captured the spirit of this country. To be honest, I thought that most scenes in the movie could have been shot anywhere in the world not in Australia.

The movie is a little too long. Most of the first half an hour could have been removed , condensed or presented in another way to give the non-Aboriginal characters more emotional background and depth. For example, we barely know why Neil Fletcher wants so badly Sarah's farm, and why he's so wicked in general but he loves a lovable sweet good- hearted woman. He is just an archetypal bad-guy, period.

Despite its flaws, I enjoyed the movie, especially the second hour and a half, and that heaven of a man that is Hugh Jackman. God Bless him and his holy body.
11 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Crikey! More Cheese than a Farmhouse Stilton.
isabelle19558 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I have no idea what to make of Australia. It can't possibly be a serious movie, right? It certainly starts as a camp comedy, then lurches into a clichéd action romance adventure, before descending into an attempt at World War Two melodrama and finishing with a dubious helping of Elgar over a rather uncomfortable attempt at serious social commentary. Elgar? I mean why? My dictionary defines a farrago as a confused mixture, a hodgepodge or medley. That sums up Australia perfectly, a farrago. It has no idea what it wants to be so it attempts to be everything to everyone and fails at almost all of it. You can only get away with this stuff if you are really clever and have a well honed sense of irony and your tongue kept firmly in your cheek. Australia is neither clever nor ironic enough, which is a pity, because I loved Moulin Rouge, but after watching The Man with One Noun, The Drover, send a band of wild horses galloping past the ranch house yet again for no discernible reason, I turned to my companion and said I thought Australia might be Bonanza meets Monty Python.

I'm sorry if this sounds cruel, but when this much money is thrown at a movie and it turns out to be this inadequate, I actually feel quite miffed. Had it cost $10M, it might be excusable. At $100M plus, it isn't. I never, ever thought I'd find myself saying this, but Nicole Kidman is probably the best thing in this film, and the reason for that is because Kidman is actually quite good on the camp level (see her in Moulin Rouge or Practical Magic) – I have a problem with her as a serious actress (The Hours, Margot at the Wedding.) Had director Baz Luhrmann stuck at the camp tongue in cheek genre, we'd all have been better off. Instead he gets serious and we get a script in which - especially in the second half - every other line of dialog is a grating cliché and competing story threads lead to superficial treatments of what could, taken individually, be quite interesting plots. I will say upfront that I don't blame any of the actors, I think they all did a reasonable job given the material. I get the feeling that Kidman, Jackman, Wenham et al all took a deep breath, tightened their belts, firmed their jaws and said "OK, we've been paid for this, let's give it our best shot." There's an enthusiastic "let's put on the show in the barn" feel to the acting. Or maybe it's me?

The (multiple) stories: there's an aristocratic woman arriving in an alien hot land to take control of a ranch which was her husband's purchase (think Out of Africa but without Meryl Streep). There's a cattle drive across the Outback (again heavily borrowed from Out of Africa) and the criminally wasted diversion into the desert to try and find water, which could, if handled properly, have led to some quite interesting drama. The heroine can't have children (O of A again) and takes up with an attractively roguish man (Robert Redford / Hugh Jackman) while taking on responsibility for the Kikuyu/Aboriginals who inhabit her land because unlike 99.99% of the other white colonizers, she has a conscience - surprise surprise. There are aerial shots of the Australian Outback – compare to the aerial shots of the Rift Valley in O of A - there's the pantomime villain Neil Fletcher played by David Wenham (apparently picking up where he left off in The Proposition playing an identical character, called Eden Fletcher – is there some significance to the name that a non Australian doesn't get?) then we lurch into the bombing of Darwin and the rescue of the lost children. If there are movie awards for plagiarism, Australia is in the running. It's an understatement to say it lacks originality.

It's also far, far too long, falling into a genre I'm beginning to call the 'Depends' movie, after the adult diapers required to sit through it - especially necessary when you realize that the only really acceptable way to watch Australia is after several drinks. Combine this with CGI which barely attempts to blend into the live action, an almost unbearably cute kid (Brandon Walters is heart melting) plus a cast which features every Australian actor who's graduated drama school since WW2, and what exactly is this movie supposed to be? Even as an advert for the Aussie tourist industry I doubt it works as well as The Proposition, which had better shots of dramatic Outback scenery. And how many visitors go to the Northern Territories to watch cattle droves? If Luhrmann really did edit this down from many more hours of film, then possibly he can re-issue a director's cut which works better. I see it working as a musical, along the lines of Moulin Rouge. The corn is certainly as high as a kangaroo's eye.

I went with a (female) friend who is a Hugh Jackman fan and I will, if cornered, admit to being a closet David Wenham groupie, so we were well primed to enjoy this, two girlies on a Friday night out - probably the target audience. But even Jackman taking his shirt off couldn't save it (and believe me, I've seen other movies where a Jackman shirt removal certainly did save the day.) I have no idea how much they paid David Wenham to make this, but it probably wasn't enough. It's not as bad as their other foray together, Van Helsing, but that's not saying much. And OK, the costumes were pretty. But the rest? Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear
207 out of 299 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Big and grand, but not the hit they were aiming for
Smells_Like_Cheese22 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
OK, I saw Australia back in December, so I'm a little rusty, forgive the late review. But looking back on this movie and just thinking about it really did help me in looking at the film and it's story. Australia was a movie that really tried to be the next Gone With The Wind for the millennium's audience. While it's a good movie, it definitely wasn't great and went way over the top. It's a little lengthy in the time and the writing was a little over done, BUT nevertheless it was still a good movie. It had terrific sets and was a beautiful setting, it felt like watching one of the old classic movies that made you feel good. Well, it was kinda like Titanic with the emotions, you were up, you were down, you were laughing, you were crying, well you get the idea. The story is a bit much, so I'm going to do the best I can to give you a decent summary.

In 1939, Lady Sarah Ashley travels from England to northern Australia to force her philandering husband to sell his faltering Australian cattle station, Faraway Downs. Her husband sends an independent cattle drover , called simply "Drover", to Darwin to transport her to Faraway Downs. Lady Sarah's husband, who has been working hard to sell 1500 head of cattle to the military, is murdered shortly before she arrives. Meanwhile, treacherous FD cattle station manager Neil Fletcher is trying to gain control of Faraway Downs, so that neighboring Lesley 'King' Carney can have a cattle monopoly in the Northern Territory, which will give him negotiating leverage with the Australian army. The childless Lady Sarah is captivated by the young boy Nullah, who was born to an Aboriginal mother and an unknown white father. When Nullah and his mother hide from the white authorities by entering a water tower, his mother drowns. Drover is friendly with the Aborigines, and therefore shunned by many of the other whites in the territory. Lady Sarah and Drover develop a romance, and she gains a new appreciation for the Australian territory. But Carney's men poison all the water sources along the cattle-drive route, so the group risks driving the cattle through the dangerous Never Never desert, which they accomplish with the help of "King George". Two years later, Drover and Lady Sarah have lived together with Nulla. But Drover, who has been quarreling with Lady Sarah and has gone droving apparently never to return, hears that she has been killed in the bombing of Darwin. Drover finds out about Nullah's abduction to Mission Island, and sets out with Magarri and Ivan to rescue Nullah and the other children from the island using a sailboat.

Whew, OK, I hope that summary is a good description of the movie since I haven't watched in a while, but I did the best I could. So in a quick sum up, the movie is worth the watch, for the background, it was worth watching in the theater. But you get the same effect if you watched it at home if you have a big screen TV and surround sound. Nicole and Hugh were a beautiful couple together, they did the best they could for such a lengthy story. But the chemistry was on and the movie did work, I think they just went a little too over the top on trying to make this movie into a classic or some kind of love fest for the Oscars. It's worth the watch, but I'd recommend just watching it at home, I don't think I can sit through a 3 hour movie again in the theaters, I'm really loosing my touch.

90 out of 131 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Uneven, hulking monster of a film
NonSequiturL25 January 2009
This film struggled throughout its epic length to stay upright. Unfortunately at the end it stumbled and fell like a pile of bricks.

It tried to juggle so much but in the end, it all turned out to be too little. The film starts like a corny slapstick comedy, turns into a romantic fantasy, then into an outback adventure, then into a war movie, a heartfelt drama, a comment on the stolen generation, a comment on racism... etc, etc. It's just too much. Yes, it's supposed to be an epic, but things like this need to be handled with finesse. Unfortunately, it isn't in this case. The themes were too muddled, the script too stretched - it's a mess. The characters are cardboard cutouts, the acting is over the top and cheesy, the pacing is off, the bizarre use of Somewhere Over the Rainbow... It's just a broken film.

Being an Australian, I did hope that this movie would be alright, but it turned out to be almost 3 hours of wankery that disgracefully cost our taxpayers over $40m.

On a more positive note, on the whole it wasn't BORING, and it was aesthetically and aurally pleasing - even though it made use of countless, shameless green screen shots which were simply unnecessary.

There was ONE great scene in the film, and that's when Hugh Jackman and his Aboriginal friend enter the ruined pub. That was absolutely excellent. Too bad the rest of the film couldn't live up to that in the slightest.
150 out of 231 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Why didn't somebody warn me
tomwalshco5 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Had no idea going in except the few bits of trailers I saw. Was expecting an epic thriller with a solid story line - instead... you get all the old stock, trite Australian perceptions.

  • sage old Aboriginal grandfather who can listen to the birds sing and tell you when the second coming of Christ will be.

  • the painfully cute, half breed boy that can outsmart NASA scientists. - the knock-down, drag-out Aussie bar brawls where everyone emerges 24 hours later as good as new without a scratch after getting smacked 10 times with a cricket bat and beer bottles.

  • the jalopy that can carry 10 tons of supplies across 500 miles of blazing desolation without a backfire.

  • the old lush that spews pearls of wisdom after falling off every bar stool he sits on.

  • the proper English royal dame that can out-ride, out-fight, out-last any grizzled outback veteran.

  • the kangaroos that appear out of nowhere in what looks like the middle of the Sahara Desert, and get shot for a delicious high-protein dinner.

  • and of course, the chatter about stealing half-breed babies to make them more refined.

I thought this was a comedy 10 minutes in! Maybe it was. I couldn't bear to see the last half. I was ready to tie a cinder block around my neck and jump in the billabong......
115 out of 177 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
After all of the publicity and the hype that preceded it, Baz Luhrmann's larger than life and highly entertaining epic, Australia, has finally arrived.
MattsMovieReviews19 November 2008
Here is a film that works on multiple levels; thrilling action adventure, detailed period piece, moving romance, stirring war movie, and it also continues the resurrection of the western.

As a result, the sum of its vast parts make for a long running film (165 min), yet every minute is filled to the brim with captivating detail.

What Luhrmann does well with Australia is tap into the majestic allure of the outback, and amplifies it. This is no surprise, since he is a master at approaching his material with a fantastical bent, creating truly memorable and often surreal sequences, which Australia provides plenty.

Aboriginal culture and its relationship with nature, in particular, have fuelled Luhrmann's imaginative vision. The heart and soul of Australia lies within the mythology and customs of Australia's indigenous people, and their often tumultuous relationship with European settlers.

This is made flesh in the form of young Nullah, a mixed race Aboriginal boy on the run from the authorities, who want to forcibly remove him from his home, and place him in a "civilised" environment. He is played by Brandon Walters, who is impressive in his debut performance.

With Nullah playing narrator, the viewer is introduced to Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman), an English aristocrat who inherits her late husband's cattle station, which is located in the Northern Australian city of Darwin. Caught in a rivalry with fellow beef exporter King Carney (Bryan Brown), Lady Ashley enlists the services of The Drover (Hugh Jackman) to herd 1500 head of cattle in order to fulfil a contract with the Australian Army.

Both Kidman and Jackman – two exceptionally gifted actors who, with the help of Australia, have overcome recent rocky patches in their careers – provide noteworthy performances and believable on screen chemistry.

Tall, pale, and thin, Kidman plays regal very well, courting an in full force stiff upper lip, that gives way to several funny moments, while trying to break out of her icy exterior. Of particular mention is her vain attempt to herd cattle; and a woeful rendition of "Somewhere over the Rainbow" to a clearly amused Walters.

Jackman, meanwhile, evokes Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, and Humphrey Bogart to fine effect as the no nonsense, hands on Drover, while also providing eye candy for female viewers.

Supporting roles are superbly fulfilled by top shelf Australian talent: Bryan Brown is effective yet given a disappointing limited amount of screen time; Jack Thompson seems to be gleefully enjoying his role as an alcoholic lawyer; and a scene stealing David Wenham is all evil smirks and nasty attitude as the films key villain.

Yet the most impressive character in Australia has to be its awe inspiring and vibrant landscape, which is captured magnificently by cinematographer Mandy Walker.

Unfortunately, the films use of artificial visual effects does clash with the natural beauty that the outback projects.

Australia is a film which clearly parades its influences on screen. References to The African Queen, Gone with the Wind, and Big Country are particularly notable.

Yet it is no mere carbon copy of the films from decades past. Rather, Australia is an enchanting throwback to an era of film-making which strived to entertain its audiences with dazzling spectacle and melodrama, coupled with a historical snapshot of circa early 1940s Darwin, and all of the beauty and ugliness that comes with it.
313 out of 526 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Tremendous Romantic Adventure - Forget The Cynics!
intelearts25 January 2009
Australia is a totally unashamedly romantic adventure film painted on a huge canvas.

We totally enjoyed every minute: it is what cinema can be - stirring, fun, involving - and made us forget the world for nearly three hours.

If Spielberg had made this (And it really looks like he could have) it would be called a masterpiece - Luhrman has done a fantastic job and if it needed reediting then they got it right.

It is fun, big fun, with a real sense of adventure and romance and we loved it.

Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman are well supported by an excellent cast and produce great chemistry.

All in all in a sea of serious films this stands out as being tremendously good entertainment and a marvelous film.

We love it.
173 out of 290 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Terrible from the beginning--including the title
spencer-ingram22 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This might be the worst movie of 2008. Definitely the most over-blown of the past few years, and should win quite a few Razzies. I don't know how any studio exec could read this script and green-light it. And apparently Kidman and Jackman didn't read the script before signing on, either.

I knew it was going to be melodramatic and unintentionally funny when the opening epigraph contains the line "a time when romance and adventure were a way of life in Australia," and then the kid starts his inane narration. The only reason I didn't walk out was because I was in a group.

Some of my friends and I had a good time laughing at it, though, especially the gem of a scene near one of the four or five endings. In this scene, Jackman walks to Kidman on the dock just as the mist parts. She requests to journey home, to which he replies "There's no place like it." Classic. That drover is such a romantic renegade, cut from the same cloth as Clark Gable.

And one more thing: Australia is hardly an appropriate title for this grand, cinematic achievement--it should be called "Walkabout" or "He's Going on Walkabout." The word "walkabout" seemed to occur about 10,000 times. If the director had cut out on that redundancy alone, he might have shaved off the extraneous hour and a half of the film.
65 out of 103 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
More Bazamataz!
asda-man18 July 2011
Baz creates another super enjoyable, visual spectacular! Although maybe not as good as "Romeo + Juliet" or "Moulin Rouge!" it certainly isn't much worse. "Australia" is a hugely enjoyable epic romantic adventure with plenty of exciting set pieces to keep you watching. I don't quite understand why nobody enjoys this? If Australia was made around the same time as "Gone With the Wind" I know that everybody would be drooling over it saying, "Oh it's the best film of all time!" Or whatever you call "Gone With the Wind" (I haven't seen it) because Baz has created a love-letter to those old epics and it's a welcome breath of fresh air to our screens.

At a hefty 3 hours long, I was expecting to find myself getting a bit bored along the way like parts in "Titanic" and even Peter Jackson's "King Kong" seemed to drag a wee bit at the start. However not once did I feel bored or restless during "Australia". This film isn't slow! It paces along beautifully, don't expect a high octane shoot-out because it's a romantic drama for God's sakes mammy! The screenplay (like all good epics) manages to make you laugh, manages to make you cry (no I didn't cry, but you might!) And it also manages to transport you on the journey with the characters. I found "Australia" absorbing and captivating.

The best part for me was the gorgeous cinematography. The whole film is magnificently shot, with some awe-inspiring scenery. Baz also shows off his incredible directing once again, one of the highlights being the exciting cattle herding across the desert. Baz injects that wonderful life into the film once again, as well as projecting a great story about a boy and his love for Nicole Kidman (no don't be silly!) And Hugh Jackman who sort of act as his surrogate parents. It's also about the love between Nicole And Hugh, although I think I would've liked to have seen better chemistry between them. It seemed like the hated each other at times when they were supposed to be madly in love! "Australia" also boasts a really evil villain! Almost on the same lines as Christoph Waltz in "Inglorious Basterds".

So with some great characters who we can care about, and also with some really exciting and beautifully shot scenes. "Australia" is another Baz masterpiece. It has all the ingredients for a superb epic romantic adventure. So why am I the only one who likes it?
15 out of 20 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Dreams be dreams
jpschapira13 January 2009
It seems just about right that Baz Luhrman waited seven years after "Moulin Rouge!" to bring us "Australia". Not because it is a better movie, but because it's very different and a lot more ambitious. Of course that this has a downside, and it's fair to say it as soon as possible: "Australia" is flawed and longer than it should be, and maybe (just maybe) one day it will be viewed as the dream come true of a man very much in love with cinema, and-let's not forget-with love.

We shouldn't forget that we're talking about Baz Luhrman, we should know what to expect sometimes. Therefore, if the beginning of this film disappoints you a bit, it's completely understandable. We meet a little boy named Nullah (the very promising Brandon Walters), who talks about races and unnamed countries, about a lady everyone calls Mrs. Boss and the road that got her to Australia and more specifically to a place called Faraway Downs in the company of a man they call the Drover.

Yes, it's all quite confusing, even more when Luhrman throws in a historical context that, I suspect, he doesn't really care much about. But everything is fine because we get to meet the stars of the show. Mrs. Boss is actually called Sarah and is played by Nicole Kidman with the same air and tone of voice she's been giving us the whole decade. Her job ends up being less risky than Hugh Jackman's, who plays this Drover as a successful combination of what he's been giving us since he came into the scene: the action hero, the tough guy, the romantic and sensitive lover and the sexy man who makes women scream.

Maybe I'm not being critical enough, but there's a scene in which the Drover appears dressed up in a suit, clean-shaven…I promise you that every women in the theater exhaled. Does this mean something to you? To me, it means that Luhrman's dream is a reality. Three hours of film and not getting tired one minute? Not feeling disgust when listening to cheesy phrases and watching excessively dramatic moments? "Australia" is pure melodrama, and I compliment its director for making it look that way without any shame. The keys can be seen all along the ride: the repetition of clichéd phrases, the intense close-ups, the slow-motion parts of the characters, the epic proportions of David Hirschfelder's score, the establishment of a song that accompanies the characters through their endless journey and the use of narration in places it didn't need to be; the same with some images.

However, the movie is one wonderful image after another (cinematographer Mandy Walker, from Australia-the country-; best of luck with the Oscar nomination you deserve), and it wins the audience like few movies out there these days can, providing delightful entertainment; you may discuss if it does this fairly, or if it cheats and it manipulates. You may also discuss the ambiguous ending.

One more thing. As with any dream, there's a moment in which we wake up; and that moment for Luhrman has to do with believing his picture could get to the race of Best Picture contenders, like his fantastic "Moulin Rouge!". But as I said, this movie is very different from the latter one, and Luhrman is no James Cameron…That one really had it the whole way.
92 out of 152 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A massive helping of Terrible
fertilecelluloid1 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Australia is a big country with skies and deserts that go on forever. The film of the same name is a big pile of cinematic excrement that should not have even started, let alone been allowed to go on for as long as it does. Baz Luhrmann, possibly the most overrated director in the world, was given $180 million to create this overwrought, schmaltzy garbage starring ice queen Nicole Kidman and bland-as-batsh*t Hugh Jackman. Fancying himself as the reborn David Lean, he went for epic and got Epic Stinker. He throws in the Australian government's disgraceful treatment of its indigenous people, a romance, a cattle drive, the bombing of Darwin by the Japanese, and a subplot involving a little boy with parents of both colors. The result is a mess. The CGI of cattle racing towards their doom is completely unconvincing and the bombing of Darwin, which can only be described as 'Pearl Harbor Lite', is directed with spastic indecision. As a romance, it's a complete failure. As history, it's totally shallow. As social commentary, it's all surface. If Luhrmann is doing anything as a filmmaker (in addition to running his career with one ballet shoe firmly in the closet), he's channeling the spirit of the late, great Liberace with his over-the-top bonanzas of glitter, camp and intolerable clichés. Unlike Liberace, he doesn't know when to stop playing. "Australia", by any measure, is a massive helping of Terrible that would make even dear old Liberace nauseous.
157 out of 279 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A true epic
tastyworm26 November 2008
Baz Luhrmann has done a great job with 'Australia'. While cliché's and political agenda runs rife, this is set nicely into an historic, epic story in three distinct acts.

Great casting - Hugh Jackman was what the role needed, and he played the role very well. Nicole Kidman, while being rubbished by several critics, appeared somewhat typecast in her role, but that style was exactly what the role needed, and I think she did a great job at pulling it off. However, I think that the standout performances actually came from Brandon Walters (in his first film), Jack Thompson (in a minor role) and David Wenham who brought 'aussie sleaze' to a new level. Unfortunately, I had trouble believing in Ben Mendelsohn's character of Captain Dutton, but seemed to finish on a high, pulling the 'British stiff upper lip' thing fairly well.

Luhrman's epic was long, and had the full gamut of Luhrmanesque style, which we've come to love through his films. Stylised backgrounds, unique, visual approaches, and a sense of humour that is truly Luhrman, flood the film bringing a rich Australian environment.

'Australia' presents to the world, perhaps a very different Australia to what a lot of people think. While the fictional characters and some of the style is very reminiscent of "Gone with the Wind", the historical Darwin during the 'Stolen Generation' era and the impact of World War Two on Australia's doorstep may be a new insite to many.

I enjoyed 'Australia' a lot. While it wasn't the best film I've ever seen, I definitely think it's worth looking at - even if it's just to see what Baz Luhrman has done.
219 out of 402 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Great film
haterofcrap7 December 2010
"Australia" is one of the greatest films ever made. It has everything that made great movies such as "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Doctor Zhivago": An epic plot, great performances, and lots of beautiful and memorable scenes.

"Australia" is simply one of the greatest movie that I've ever saw, along with "Avatar" from James Cameron. I can't believe that such a great film like this received so many bad reviews, while horrible, and overrated films like "The Expendables" receive a lot of hype and praise.

"Australia" was a great film, filled with lots of emotions: It has romance, comedy, drama and excitement. It is easily one of the greatest films ever made, and definitely it deserves a lot of more appreciation.

I can't believe that this film wasn't nominated at the category for best picture...Now, that's unfair.
19 out of 28 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Luhrmann's Grand Epic That Is Australia
Chrysanthepop9 March 2009
I have been looking forward to 'Australia' for a long time. Though the experience from 'Australia' isn't as magical as Baz Luhrmann's spectacular 'Moulin Rouge' nor is it as well executed (on the technical side), but I still found it very enjoyable. 'Australia' works on multiple levels. The film is a mixture of adventure, action, romance and detailed history (like in any larger than life epic movie). All of them are put well together in the film. Luhrmann's vast imagination and creativity is very evident in his portrayal of the aboriginal culture and how that's where the heart of Australia lies. To move the story further, Luhrman shows the conflict of the aboriginals with the Europeans and its chaotic result. The film introduces plenty of historical themes and serves as a thumbnail. Yet, Luhrmann does not shy away from experimenting with the magical side of his film. The main story itself is very formulaic but enjoy it like you would see a Hollywood blockbuster and roll along.

The Australian landscape is dazzling to look at. It's a country that has always fascinated me and arises my desire to go there and such movies only remind me of that feeling. Mandy Walker's cinematography is fantastic allowing landscape itself to serve as a key character (for obvious reasons). The lighting could have used some betterment, especially in the action scenes where they used blue screen filter (it was painfully obvious). I also felt that the CGI was overused and at times it does interfere with the natural beauty in the background. The soundtrack is awesome as its a mixture of spiritual beats and old classics.

At the centre of 'Australia' is an Aboriginal child of mixed race, Nullah, who is played by a likable Brandon Walters. Even though Walters doesn't exactly get it 'right' with scenes that demanded him to display complex emotions, he does very well with the comic scenes and does not go over the top by 'being cute'. A vivacious Nicole Kidman is absolutely marvelous as the strong-minded Sarah Ashley. She displays her knack for comedy, is superbly restrained in the emotional sequences and shares a wonderful chemistry with her co-stars. Hugh Jackman's Drover may have been inspired by Harrison Ford's Indiana Jones, Paul Hogan's Crocodile Dundee and the dozens of famous Clint Eastwood characters. Jackman pulls off the part quite naturally. He and Kidman are magic on screen. The supporting cast is commendable. I liked the actors who play the colourful characters at Ashley's ranch. Jack Thompson provides some brilliant comic relief. Bryan Brown has a strong presence in a limited role and David Wenham is menacing as the evil Fletcher.

Luhrmann's attempt to entertain and amuse the viewer seems genuine and the man has done a lot of research and enlightens the viewer of Australia history. Forget these 'Titanics' and 'Pearl Harbours'. 'Australia' reminds us of the time when people enjoyed grand movies such as 'Gone With The Wind' and 'The Wizard Of Oz'. Through the numerous references, this movie pays tribute to many of the classics that have made a place in the history of cinema. Yet, this enchanting movie stands on its own.
42 out of 70 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An Enormous Pretty Pill, Impossible To Swallow
ptmcq0529 November 2008
Shapeless epic with a shifting center. Everything feels fake even the real magnificent scenery but it's really the script that tried to be about a lot of things but ends up being about nothing. The potential poetry in the plight of the Aborigines smells of opportunism, at least, it wasn't filled with the honesty of Philip Noyce's "Rabbit Proof Fence" for instance. On a personal, and maybe shallow perspective, I'm truly upset about Nicole Kidman for whatever she's done to her face, I was so aware of the swelling in her upper lip that it distracted me away from any sort of emotion. Hugh Jackman is gorgeous but his acting here is so exterior that I couldn't believe him for a moment. He is the new Rock Hudson and I think he'll be at his best in bright feel good, sexy comedies. Buz Lhurman's "Australia" seems filmed by a foreigner. There is not a hint of the Australia I got to know and be fascinated by of the films of Peter Weir just to name one great Aussie director. Buz Lhurman has been a lucky director with lots and lots of of chutzpah. Let's see what happens next.
203 out of 381 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
With a bit more effort (or a bit less) Luhmann could have been responsible for a new film genre -- epic camp.
wfrost9 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Music from The Wizard of Oz is played and/or sung throughout the film and its characters are compared (unsatisfactorily in my opinion) with those of Australia. It's an in-group reference, since "Oz" is a common nickname for Australia.

Is Baz Luhmann paying homage to Oz, Gone with the Wind, Casablance, Out of Africa, and every western and oppressed minority film ever made and creating a true epic, or is he patching stock clichés, plots and characters together to make a long film far inferior to any he references?

Brandon Walters, as the half-caste Aboriginal, Nullah, and the film's narrator is one of the few leads in this WWII era story that seems at ease with his character except when he is in his "doing magic" pose. His mother follows her son into a water tank for no reason and drowns. in an earlier scene, that tank was full of holes.

The other characters are mostly one dimensional. Hugh Jackman plays a character so flat he is coincidently only called by his occupation, "Drover." Being the stereotypical cowboy, he has no social skills. He drives cows, except when he is inexplicably driving horses through the cattle ranch owned by Lady Sarah Ashley.

Nicole Kidman plays the lady to Jackman's tramp. Naturally these opposites must attract and the lady thaws almost to the point of looking as if she's truly in love.

David Gulpilil plays King George, Nullah's grandfather and protector. Having played aboriginal characters for over 35 years, he knows the drill. His character behaves logically through most of the film but, near the end, still has a spear which his captors in Darwin evidently neglected to confiscate. Then he finds it necessary to reveal to Neal Fletcher that he is Nullah's father as if the man could not otherwise have known.

Fletcher, played by David Wenham, is the chief villain in this melodrama. He is the architect behind everyone else's misfortunes excepting the Japanese bombing of Darwin and Mission Island.

Mission Island is the fictitious location where Aboriginal children (the Lost Generation) removed from their parents were interred. We are asked to believe that the Japanese would send soldiers to this island so that Drover could rescue Nullah.

The real star of Australia is the land itself. The vast expanses of northern Australia are well photographed and put the special effects and animation to shame. The Darwin harbor scenes and the kangaroo sequence would be at home in a B movie.

With a bit more effort (or a bit less) Luhmann could have been responsible for a new film genre -- epic camp.
68 out of 119 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A 17 year old schoolgirl's opinion!
TheLittleSongbird12 July 2009
Australia was actually much better than I expected, after hearing some rather uncharitable things about it. Yes it is flawed, but you can't help think there are a lot of good things about it. Visually, Australia is absolutely striking, and captured beautifully on camera by Mandy Walker, the first five minutes especially. The music score is absolutely beautiful, and is careful not to overshadow the most dramatic of scenes, particularly the scenes with the cattle. I would also like to say, that despite talk of trouble between Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, both stars turn in very believable performances, and David Wenham is good as Neil Fletcher; though I had a problem with the way he died, I will confess I was expecting him seeing as he had a spear in his body to die quicker than he did. But Brandon Walters is simply brilliant as Nullah. At first, I was put off by the length, but the length wasn't actually the problem, as it is supposed to be an epic. One flaw I had with the movie, was that there is a fair amount going on, like the love affair, the moving of the cattle, even a couple of murders; the problem was I never quite understood what the film's main focus was supposed to be, though in the film's defence some scenes are very well developed, and raise a couple of tearjerkers. When I first heard the song Somewhere Over the Rainbow,this is in no way a criticism, but at first, I wasn't sure what the significance of the song was, then as the film progressed, it was like a communication of hope. I will say that my main problem with the film was the ending. The scene itself was beautifully shot and quite moving, but it was the music that bothered me. As much as I like Nimrod by Elgar; it is a beautiful piece that reduces me to tears, however the film is about Australia, so I wasn't sure why they decided to use a piece of music that is actually British, so was rather irrelevant to the film's context. Despite the flaws, I did like Australia, enjoyed is probably inappropriate for the film's genre, and me, my mum and dad were left streamy-eyed at the end of the film. 8/10 Bethany Cox.
14 out of 20 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Down Under And Then Some
mocpacific1 December 2008
I think the best word to describe this pastiche is "ridicolous" and not in a fun, entertaining way. Baz Luhrmann's ego is all over the screen but there is no visible sign of his intellect. "Somewhere over the rainbow"? Oh please, give me a break! Although the story is the wannabe love story between a man and a woman the whole thing feels incredibly camp and not in a fun, entertaining way. If I sound angry it may be because I am. I sat for three hours! Three hours! To be told this quilted compilation of other much better movies. Nicole Kidman is always fun to watch and that is true also here but for the wrong reasons. Hugh Jackman gets the most loving, sexy framings and close ups. I'm giving "Australia" a 3 and not a 1 due to the young Aborigine star and some spectacular locations.
151 out of 281 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A Career Wrecker
evons7 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
A disaster of monumental proportions… and coming from a director who made such great and highly stylized films as "Moulin Rouge" and "Romeo + Juliet. It will truly be a surprise if Luhrmann is ever entrusted with a big budget movie again. But then again don't underestimate the stupidity of movie studio executives.

It is obvious from the closing historical captions about the fate of the Aborigines that the screenwriter conceived this script as a story to be taken seriously. However, from the start of the zippy graphics and jump cuts (a la Moulin Rouge and Romeo + Juliet) transporting you from continent to continent, this technique gives you the feeling you're in a confused tongue-in-cheek "Indiana Jones" matinée. I doubt this was the director's intention, as this jump technique was dropped after the first 15 minutes. In "Moulin Rouge" and "Romeo + Juliet" these sudden camera jumps were effective, used throughout and complimented the film. In "Australia" it appears there may have been more but were ultimately abandoned as an idea that did not work.

Then there's the all-knowing mystical ever-present aboriginal grandpa whose character, watchful-eye and even "little magic fires looking down from the mountain" are right out of "The Lion King" playbook; the coincidence was hilarious and embarrassing. Furthermore, the characters are cartoon cutouts as if this was a live action version of some corny graphic novel dumbed-down for 10 year-olds.

And, the poor film composer stuck with copying the temp score which "must have worked so well for the focus groups." How depressing for the film composer to be demoted to mere arranger re-hashing and re-working Arvo Part's music throughout (obviously used as the temp track) among other old orchestral favorites.

However, was it entertaining? OK, I admit, in parts. When the audience was not laughing at the delivery of the dialogue and bogus direction, there were some pretty stunning scenes such as the cattle drive. But did the film need to be almost 3 hours? Well, ask the execs at Twentieth Century Fox and the box office returns.

I feel sorry for Australians who were delivered a parody of some very serious WWII era issues. What an insult to their intelligence, their history and their country.
66 out of 118 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Enjoyable Romantic Adventure
claudio_carvalho8 February 2009
In 1939, the aristocratic Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman) travels from Great Britain to Australia to meet her husband Maitland Ashley in northern Australia. The husband's drover (Hugh Jackman) comes to the city of Darwin to bring Sarah to their farm; however, when they reach Faraway Downs Farm, they find that Maitland was murdered apparently by the aborigine King George (David Gulpilil). Sarah befriends the half-breed boy Nullah (Brandon Walters), who tells her that the administrator Neil Fletcher (David Wenham) is stealing her cattle; has killed her husband; and is working for the cattle baron King Carney (Bryan Brown). Sarah fires Fletcher and his men and together with Drover, Nullah and a group of loyal employees, they ride together to bring the cattle to supply the army and win a tender in times of war. But the ambitious Fletcher has other intentions and uses Nullah to press Sarah.

"Australia" is an enjoyable romantic adventure in times of war. The story is narrated by the storyteller Nullah and uses many historical events in Australia. For example, the lost generation was wonderfully depicted by Phillip Noyce in his "Rabbit-Proof Fence" and is brought back in this story. The movie has some moments of soap-opera, is too long but never boring. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Australia"
71 out of 129 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Down Under With the Wind
gryffindor24926 November 2008
I have always been a sucker for dramas set against Australia (I am a Yank), and this one does not disappoint. Led by top-shelf work by Kidman and Jackman, the movie has sweep, romance, excitement and a bit of mysticism. World War 2 has inspired some of the great films of the last half-century and this can emphatically be added to the list. Can it veer a bit towards melodrama, schmaltz and corn? Yes-but what great romantic epic does not? It pays homage to the great romantic war films while adding a dose of Baz's own quirkiness that keeps one from feeling they are seeing merely a facsimile. This kind of film is why they build movie theatres.
161 out of 313 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Australia surpasses hype with unexpected magic
MovieZoo28 November 2008
If you are thinking this movie is just another so-called epic and the performances are more of the same from familiar faces, you cannot possibly be ready for what you will witness when you see this truly exceptional wonder.

I was drawn to Australia purely on fair expectations of Kidman and Jackman doing their cowboy stuff, thinking I will possibly see something reminiscent of Gone With the Wind. I found myself glued to a spell-binding splendor on screen that cinema has sorely needed for so many years.

Both Kidman and Jackman seemed to equally put as much as is possible into their parts. She was truly funny and yet serious as her character demanded. She has never been any better in anything I have seen(that does not include Far and AWay because I have not seen it). He, too, was funny and yet every bit as hard and serious as you would hope a man in his position would be. Both have their weak moments that drew more than a few tears from me.

Baz showed how great a story teller he is by using all the hooks he can think of. Magic, music, love, memories, anger, fear, hate, awe and hope fill this movie as much as the natural beauty of Australia fills the screen. Don't think for one moment there was no soft imaging or CGI because there was when it was needed. Oh, and thanks for not letting Nicole sing the whole song. That was a wise choice. I think her voice is fine, I just think "that" song was not meant to be sung by anyone in the movie.

Thank you, Baz, for such a memorable work of art. You and your creation get a 9 from me.
116 out of 224 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Quite fun epic-pastiche but doesn't quite work even if it is easy to be caught up in the sweep of it all
bob the moo31 January 2009
Australia came out between Christmas and New Year in the UK and this was quite befitting it as this is the time when the television usually has those fluffy but expensive specials and epic productions clogging it up, all with the excuse of being perfect "doze in front of the telly" stuff for the wake of eating too much. I say this fits Australia because in truth much of Baz Luhrmann's film could be accused of being just that – bloated, silly, sweeping, moving, engaging but ultimately quite light in the substance department. Our story is an traditional "epic" romance in the mould of many old films where the rough hero and the cut-glass woman fall for one another against a backdrop of cattle drives and war. If alarm bells are ringing for you then they were for me as well, since this concept reminded me a bit of Pearl Harbour – that terribly wooden affair that dragged on far too long to be able to cover the problems with big explosions.

The good news is that Australia is better than Pearl Harbour. The bad news is that it still isn't a fantastic film so much as it is the type of film that one likes despite it all, not because of it. The film wears its epic feel like a big coat and it covers it completely to the point that there is no denying the ambition of Luhrmann. We get massive spectacle, sweeping emotion, ethnic mysticism and constant unreal cinematography that makes the whole thing look gorgeous to the point of being unreal. In this regard the film works because there is a lot going on and, despite one's reservations, it feels like we are watching this epic film that is important and emotional and creative. The truth is perhaps a little less impressive because the mix of the epic and the fanciful doesn't come off for Luhrmann as well as it has in other films. Here one rather affects the other and the "big real story" sits uncomfortably with "unlikely sweeping narrative gestures" and "mystical power of the Aborigine". To some this will be just part of the magic of the film but for me it got a bit tiresome and felt like too much had been thrown into the pot.

That said, it somehow does work and generally I got caught up in the sweep and majesty of the whole thing – caring about the characters, touched by the slight magic in the story and the delivery. Although they don't mix that well, the camp style is woven into some aspects to prevent it becoming dry, unlikely and wooden in the way that it did in Pearl Harbour. The direction and cinematography drive this but the cast help. Jackman is not "great" in traditional terms but his beefy, chiselled frame plays well to the broad matinée idol type that he must deliver as. By contrast Kidman doesn't quite pull it off. Sure she is convincingly dry and uptight at the start but she doesn't loosen in a way that works that well. Walters is a bit too sickly cute for my liking but within the context of Luhrmann's world, he just about works even if he was a bit too front and centre within the film. Brown is a nice find in support and generally everyone is OK for what is required.

It is too long and it does have far too much in there for its own good but it just about works. I can understand why some hate it and some love it because it is that type of film but, for all its flaws (and it does have them), the big colourful, emotional sweep of it all is hard to resist. I'll admit that I would be unlikely to watch it again until it comes to TV for free in about 5 years but it has its charm and although it is not perfect I did think it was quite a good film and one that is typically Luhrmann in creation.
15 out of 23 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Why this got such bad reviews the world will never know
Hopelessromantic6144 January 2009
This was one of the best movies I have seen in a long time, maybe one of the best ever. Baz has outdone himself again. Without the outrageous, colorful nature as Moulin Rouge! or Romeo+Juliet, Australia succeeds in being an elaborate epic romance. Nicole Kidman has not always been my favorite actress, but as in Moulin Rouge! she is brilliant in a role that allows her to go all out. Her character Sarah Ashley comes alive through the sheer weirdness of the actresses nature. She has the range to allow her character to evolve throughout the film. Hugh Jackman, what can I say about him? For several weeks before seeing Australia, I had been seeing him everywhere thinking 'what has he ever done? Sexiest man alive? No way?' etc. I was proved wrong. When he first appears, you do not see his character's, Drover, face. But when you do, the gasp from me and my two friends was proof enough: he is indeed beyond sexy. As if that wasn't enough, he can act like no other. In a chacter that could have been tough, he pulled it off, channeling the rugged cattle driver beautifully. Did I mention Brandon Walters as Nullah? The twelve year old boy stole the show as the sweet, conflicted Aboriginol boy Nullah. Really, for such a young child, he was stirring. With the direction and colorful backdrop to back up this fanatical acting and wonderful script, this movie is nothing but a classic in the making.
42 out of 75 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed