Australia (2008) Baz Luhrmann

Production Budget: $130 million
Worldwide Gross so far: $211 million

Australia is an homage to the epic romances of ole.  The plot is about an English aristocrat who after the death of her husband, takes over his Australian cattle ranch.  She soon falls for the ruggedly handsome stock man simply called The Drover.  Oh, and there’s a little thing called WWII going on at the same time.  Really if you want reasons for why the movie failed, I think Fox showed no faith in the movie and didn’t really advertise it.  Secondly, they released it in a congested market late in the season.  I still do not know why companies don’t release some of these movies from Jan-April.  A movie like Australia would have cleaned up in February.

Anyway, I guess you are looking for some dirt on this movie; a little bile?  Okay.  One of my main complaints is with the look and shooting of the movie.  First off, it is criminal…CRIMINAL to have CGI in a movie like this.  Part of the beauty of movies like Doctor Zhivago (or other David Lean movies or epics of that nature) is the sweeping shots with the wide angle lens.  We have picturesque landscapes which make us fall in love with the land as much as the characters.  Luhrmann does that to some effect, but we get shots of characters in some of the worst green screen effects and a cattle stampede that is almost laughably bad.  Second the shooting is at the same Luhrmann-esque Moulin Rouge frantic cutting.  Again comparisons to Lean movies we have long takes with the action perfectly framed.  In Australia, we get two people conversations with more cuts than a Michael Bay movie.  Although (to give some credit) Luhrmann calms the f*ck down after 30 minutes and remembers he is not shooting a glam version of Quigley Down Under.  Third, these types of movies are slow paced and develop drama methodically.  Here, even though the movie is 2 hrs and 45 minutes like we are given a lot of info in a compressed time.  And that’s just the look.

It’s kind of bizarre because I mention the cinematography sucked up until about a third of the way through.  But really there are many problems which resolve after the first third.  Another example is the acting.  The acting especially from Kidman is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaa *inhales* aaaaaaaaaaaay over the top.  There are also typical goofball characters like the slurring drunk with a bottle permanently glued to his hand and the sneering villain who hates the darkies with a fiery passion.  But oddly enough, everyone calms the f*ck down, they somehow realize they have two thirds of the movie to go and settle into their roles.  I could go into other issues like the story is derivative and the whole movie feels like a shadow of the movies it tries to be.

With all that being said and all the issues I have with it…I still…kinda liked it.  Don’t get me wrong its not a great movie, but it still has its charms.  Most of the credit goes to Jackman who is a compelling and charming in just about any role.  And as I said, Kidman relaxes after the first third and puts in a good performance.  While the romance is derivative, it is done well enough I was interested through the movie.  I also found the plot involving the cattle drive was enjoyable.  I sat through it really wanting to hate it for being a overproduced piece of sh*t but I came out thinking it was somewhat enjoyable.  It does have a long running time so the movie isn’t for everyone, but if you were interested by the trailer I think you would enjoy it.  Although the one thing I can’t forgive is there aren’t enough characters named Bruce.  If there are people not named Bruce, it tends to lead to a little confusion.  At least there were no pooftahs.  Rule 3 NO POOFTAHS!  Sorry, got on a little Monty Python run there.

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