Amazon Holiday

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Australia

(Guest Review by Russ)

Q: What’s the movie about?


A: A British aristocrat (Nicole Kidman) travels to Australia to deal with a cattle farm that her philandering husband bought, only to get swept up in adventure, romance, war and motherhood. (Not necessarily in that order, or as quickly as it took you to read that sentence).

Q: Who’s in the movie?

A: Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, Brandon Walters, David Wenham, Bryan Brown

Q: Is this movie worth the price of admission?

A: PhotobucketProceed with Caution. If you have three hours to kill and aren’t particularly demanding of the rules that epic romances are supposed to adhere to, then you may find parts of this movie entertaining. If that doesn't describe you, you will be bored and probably mad at me for giving this mess a rating as high as "caution." In other words, I hated it, although I recognize that some of you will like it. But at least now I can rest easy knowing that you’ve been warned.

Q: Will this movie make me laugh?

A: Think back: have Nicole Kidman and/or Hugh Jackman ever made you laugh in any movies you’ve ever seen them in? If your answer is yes, then they’ll make you laugh here too.

Q: Will this movie make me cry?

A: It will certainly try. Boy will it try. It will try, try, try, try, try... But, no.

Q: Will this movie be up for any awards?

A: Maybe in Australia... They're desperate over there to see this movie matter.

Q: How is the Acting?

A: Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman are both bona fide movie stars and even in roles as underwritten as these, they prove once again why they are. They even manage some chemistry, but not nearly as much as this fiasco of a story needs to work. Which brings us to young Brandon Walters who plays Nullah, the child narrator of this story. Apparently this total amateur was ‘discovered’ after an exhaustive search that forced practically every aboriginal child in Australia to audition for director Baz Luhrmann. He should’ve kept looking cause this kid is terrible and for a role so central to the plot, he pretty much brings the entire massive enterprise crashing down around him. And it’s not like he’s just uneven, he’s bad in every single scene (and he’s in a lot of them). Now maybe it’s unfair of me to be so hard on a 12 year-old, but hey, I didn’t cast him and like they say: if you can’t stand the heat… yeah, well in this case, get out of Australia.

Q: How is the Directing?

A: Look, Strictly Ballroom is one of my all-time favorite movies and few would argue that Baz Luhrmann is a truly visionary director – not only visually but as a storyteller, too. But Australia is pretty much a train-wreck from start to finish, which is clearly unfortunate, but that’s not to say it has zero redeeming qualities. There are some breathtaking sequences here, specifically a sabotaged cattle-drive that sees hundreds of cattle about to stampede right off the edge of a cliff. But while the parts that are stunning are because of the direction, overall it’s a mess, and that's also because of the direction .

Q: How is the story/script?

A: It’s the biggest problem. I felt like I was watching a foreign film with no subtitles for the first 45 minutes and amazingly, I’m told everyone was speaking English (a language I usually understand). After giving up on figuring out the ‘plot setup’ (believe me, you will too after 10 minutes) the movie sort of settles into three distinct parts. Now that would be fine if this were say, a mini-series, or the entire second part wasn’t basically a montage with (bad) voice-over. But unfortunately it isn’t a mini-series, and the second part is a prolonged montage, and while you’re thinking it’s the end of the movie, you’ll soon discover there’s a whole third act to come that has little to do with anything that’s come before it. (Although if you leave at the end of act-two, you might wind up enjoying the movie more.) One could argue that this is simply an epic love-story that is bucking traditional story convention and we should just go along for the ride. Okay, fine, I would accept that argument if most of what I was watching were still compelling or entertaining, but it’s not. I’ve never been to Australia, but I’m convinced that the continent and its people are infinitely more interesting than what’s depicted here.

Q: Where can I see the trailer?

A: http://www.moviefone.com/movie/australia/32859/trailers

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