[Luhrmann] veers from earnest drama to brisk comedy and then tries to hold it together with awkward voiceover narration. Within five minutes, Australia seems headed for trouble. It gets there and stays there.
Australia is so damnably eager to please that it feels like being pinned down by a giant overfriendly dingo and having your face licked for about three hours: theoretically endearing but, honestly, kind of gross.
Australia provides some remarkable moments: remarkably beautiful, remarkably imaginative and, against all odds, genuinely moving, which in a movie this overwrought and overblown is, in itself, remarkable.
This almost three-hour epic keeps shooting for the stars but usually crash-lands with a thud. Someone should have told co-writer/director Baz Luhrmann that just because you call your movie Australia doesn't mean you've created a national epic.
Australia offers everything from a cattle drive to Nicole Kidman's rendition of "Over the Rainbow" to hordes of Japanese Zeros zeroing in on screaming children during the early 1942 attack on Darwin in Australia's Northern Territory, two months aft
If Luhrmann takes too long to tell the tale, it is at least a tale worth telling, shining a light on racism and mistreatment, folding it neatly into a crowded film that entertains us for most of the way.