Critics Consensus

Built on lavish vistas and impeccable production, Australia is unfortunately burdened with thinly drawn characters and a lack of originality.



Total Count: 221


Audience Score

User Ratings: 261,467
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Movie Info

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.

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Critic Reviews for Australia

All Critics (221) | Top Critics (56) | Fresh (122) | Rotten (99)

  • "Australia" is a shameless-and shamelessly entertaining-pastiche. It works because Luhrmann, a true believer in movie-movie magic, stamps it all with the force of his own extravagant, generous personality.

    Feb 6, 2018 | Full Review…

    David Ansen

    Top Critic
  • The effect of watching a Baz Luhrmann film is indistinguishable from the effect of having a crater-sized parcel of glitter dropped on your head.

    Jan 29, 2016 | Full Review…
  • If you are willing to take the plunge and view things through Luhrmann's prism, Australia does deliver the classic dramatic and romantic satisfactions its ambitious advertising campaign promises.

    Jul 6, 2010 | Full Review…
  • It's a fine romp, epic in both ambition and visuals if not narrative - and if director Baz Luhrmann had stopped at the end of the love story's trajectory, the audience would have left entirely happy.

    Jan 5, 2009 | Rating: 3/6 | Full Review…

    Nina Caplan

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Australia is an epic love story, and a quite extraordinary piece of kitsch. Everything about the film is wildly over the top.

    Jan 5, 2009 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • We are left with slow-moving insincerity and conceit, summoned up in the flatulence of that title: Australia, a country reborn in terms of facetious Hollywood cliches.

    Jan 5, 2009 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Australia

  • Feb 02, 2013
    bugger me, good baz luhrmann. it hurts usually to watch his stuff but this one's quintessentially not all about the glam & focuses on embracing family values, the need to be there for your fellow man otherwise we're just animals... the scenes with the marauding japs attacking by air or land were genuienely freaky and although the acting left something to be desired the visuals were bonza & the sheer epicness was most definitely a mazzzzive plus!!
    Sanity Assassin ! Super Reviewer
  • Dec 24, 2012
    It's not awful, but it certainly lacks the tongue-in-cheek spark of other Baz Luhrmann films, thus rendering the emotion quite melodramatic. I wouldn't say the movie could've ended three times (in that it was too long and repetitive), but new plot points just kept building on and on. There's always more. This must have been when Nicole Kidman was Botoxing it cuz her face is a bit plasticky, and she overmugs to compensate. Brandon Walters as the half-Aborigine boy, Nullah, is plucky and exuberant. Hugh Jackman is rough and gruff on the outside, marshmallows and puppy dogs on the inside.
    Alice S Super Reviewer
  • Aug 14, 2012
    It's a very theatrical Baz Luhrmann film starring Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman, so how in the world did this film make it out without being a musical? This does seem to be Luhrmann tricking these big talents into his film, because I'd imagine Hugh Jackman was in on the idea of doing a Baz Luhrmann musical, until he found out that it's not actually a musical, whereas Nicole Kidman was in on the idea of finally returning to her Australian roots, only to end up playing an Englishwoman visiting Australia. I'd imagine Kidman is dying to go back to Aussie, because even her country musician husband is Australian, so you know that she's got to be getting tired of the foreign life. Eh, I think that this film is Australian enough for her to not mind too much, because make no mistake, this film is so Australian it's not even funny, mate. Okay, well, maybe some of the comic relief is a little bit chuckle-worthy, though not quite in the way it was hoping for. I like this film quite a bit and all, but yeah, maybe Luhrmann should stick with Shakespeare and, well, musicals, because he seriously needs to save all of this melodrama for his mama... as well as Shakespeare and musicals... and "The Great Gatsby". Of course, until then, we're stuck with this, which I suppose I don't mind too much, because, hey, it's still a good epic, and I do enjoy a good epic, though I tend to enjoy the epics that this one should have been as good as a little bit more, for although this film makes a hit for every miss, it still has to miss before it can "come back for that hit" (Really forced boomerang joke, anyone?). On paper, this film seems as though it's going to present something of a challenge to those looking for full assurance that this, in fact, a Baz Luhrmann film, but really, this film practically wastes no time in reminding you of Luhrmann's presence as director, as the early parts of the development segment are, well, to put it bluntly, embarassing, dashing through characterization and hurrying through exposition at an insanely rapid pace, made worse by frenetically flashy tone that cheeses up and hurries out one development point after another. After the development segment, things get a little bit more comfortable, yet Baz Luhrmann's problematic stylistic touches certainly don't slow down, for although substance and style mostly goes hand-in-hand, there are quite a few occasions in which Luhrmann overwhelms with style, leaving substance to either fall flat or go enhanced to the point of bearing down, typically in a cheesy fashion. Still, it's not like it's only Luhrmann's direction that's cheesy, for although the cheesy directorial executions certainly worsen the sting of the cheesiness within the writing, the fact of the matter is that much cheesiness dates as far as the scripting stage, when Luhrmann and his fellow writers (If this many writers couldn't get Luhrmann to calm down and man up, then they must have been in on it) tainted this film with occasions of improvable dialogue and corny and rather predictable comic relief, as well as such cheesy consistent concepts as a narration by the little, broken English-speaking mulatto native child and, worst of all, histrionics. Baz Luhrmann sure loves his melodrama, yet this is no "Romeo + Juliet" or "Moulin Rouge!".... or "The Great Gatsby" (It better be good, Baz), and all of the overblown histrionics and other faulty dramatic approaches found here drench the drama in profound unsubtlety, made worse by thin characterization, which, in and of itself, is made worse by the characters' being among the many trite components to this film's considerable genericism. In many surprising ways, Baz Luhrmann seems fit for a film of this type, yet in many more expected ways, he doesn't fit, being unprepared to handle a film of this type, and for goodness' sakes, he's producer, writer and director, and even the creator of this story that he messes up with such awkwardness in his execution of such strong story, which deserves better. The subject matter and certain parts of the story structure, it's fairly clear that Baz Luhrmann wanted this to be the Australian "Gone with the Wind", and it's not at all like he's a rather incompetent filmmaker, because he is a very good filmmaker, it's just that he's been conditioned to stay within his element, concise and flashy melodramas, and when presented with this more sprawling, restrained and realist epic drama, he chokes a bit under pressure and inexperience and turns what should have been a stellar, if rather conventional epic into an uneven and overblown unrealized ambition. That being said, note my earlier statement that Baz Luhrmann is a very good filmmaker, for although his limited diversity limits this film and leaves it to fall short of potential, what Luhrmann does right her does as well as you would expect him to, and just enough for this film to hit much more than miss and ultimately reward by the end, partially because of the very style that actually weakens the film as well. As far as filmmaking style and certain dramatic aspects are concerned, you better believe that Baz Luhrmann soars over the top, yet on the whole, when it comes to reality and overall world structuring, Luhrmann takes relative restraint, so don't go in expecting this film's production designs to be anything close to "Moulin Rouge!" mind-blowing, yet do go in expecting Luhrmann's tastes to deliver nonetheless, as always, for although the production and costumes aren't especially upstanding, they construct this film's dynamic and grand world with authenticity and attractive slickness, made all the more attractive by Mandy Walker's contributions. Again, the production designs aren't at all as flashy as they are in other Baz Luhrmann efforts, nor does Mandy Walker seem quite as skilled in the photographic arts as Donald McAlpine, so it's not like the cinematography on this film is consistently breathtakingly colorful, yet it is still consistently colorful and detailed with an attractive brightness, as well as a certain broadness in scope that supplements this film's epic sweep, and by extension, engagement value. This photographic skill, as well as the strong production and technical value (We'll forget about how off-putting quite a few visual effects get to be) and generic yet grand score work by David Hirschfelder, certainly come in handy during the action sequences, which are, I must say, pretty excellent, with dyanmic staging and grand sweep that not only dazzles, but plunges you into the heat of the moment and delivers on intensity that may not always form full-on golden moments in this film, yet definately raise consequence, thus giving this story the weight that it needs, yet doesn't always get. Still, as messily handled as the story often is in this film, no matter how much its been done and redone, it remains worthy, with themes and depths that often go undercut by the missteps made in this film, yet remain potent enough to bypass the faultiness of their translation and create a default degree of intrigue, intensified by colorful performances. Our performers have little to work with, and what material they do have is as stock as the characters our performers stand behind, yet at the end of the day, this is still a colorful cast of talents, all of whom, to one extent or another, charm, with leads Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman particularly doing what they can to stretch out their thin character the most, to the point of giving our leads some layers and depth to go with charisma, as well as some sharp chemistry. The performers aren't asked to do much, and do just that, yet they do help in keeping the film going, with one of the most significant talents who help in bringing this film to life being the very performer who hurts this film so much: the performer who sits behind the camera, for although Baz Luhrmann gets very much out of hand, when it's all said and done with, I would still fancy him a strong director who may not have the experience or sensibilities to handle a film of this type, yet manages to hold his own with certain aspects that are universal and have very much been explored by the talented director time and again, and with success almost every time, including here, as Luhrmann keeps the film, if nothing else, consistently lively and entertaining with charm and spirit spawned from both ambition and competent storytelling, while finding occasions in which he pinpoints genuineness and depth through all of the dramatic faultiness and strikes, maybe not quite as deeply as did in "Romeo + Juliet" and "Moulin Rouge!", being that this film's dramatic aspects are diluted by the histrionics and melodrama that fit in other Baz Luhrmann efforts that were much less grounded, yet to where he leaves the film to resonate as much as it can and deliver on much of what it needs to when it needs to most, whether it be epic sweep within the film's scope, tension within the action, or, yes, even emotion within the drama, particularly during the unexpectedly riveting later acts (Ending got kind of corny again, though). This film deserves to be better, and certainly deserves better then what Baz Luhrmann all too often gives it, yet for every mistake Luhrmann makes that reminds us that he's still not quite ready to take on film of this type, there are strengths that range from commendable to golden and remind us that Luhrmann still has the talent to do a film of this type right one day, and while that day was not this film's day, there's still enough inspiration behind this faulty epic to make it sometimes powerful, consistently engaging and ultimately worthwhile. When you get downunder-I mean, down to it, this should-be more restrained film goes tainted by Baz Luhrmann's fluffy overstylizing and cheesiness, as well as ceaseless genericisms, limited character layers and, of course, a profound lack of subtlety within the melodrama and histrionics that plague this film's dramatic aspects and help in leaving Luhrmann's worthy vision quite a ways away from what it should have been, yet not so far that you don't see glimpses of a stronger film, many of the components of which are far from distant, whether they be upstanding production designs and handsome cinematography, dazzling and intense action sequences or, of course, a story strong enough to lay down a degree of default intrigue, brought to life by performances more colorful than the characters themselves are written to be - with Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman particularly stretching their characters out as much as they can, partially through compelling chemistry -, as well as by what is done right in Baz Luhrmann's direction, which provides consistent entertainment value and charm, broken up by the occasions of emotional effectiveness and epic sweep that help in making Luhrmann's "Australia" an often engaging and generally rewarding effort, faulty though, it may be. 3/5 - Good
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Jan 06, 2012
    I'm really giving this film 4.25 stars in my mind...I feel that 4 isn't enough, but 4.5 is a bit too much. I think it's better to underrate a film than to overrate it, however. Anyway, this is a really good film chronicling the lives of the three main characters. It really feels like parts of several different films all rolled into one, which is good because it keeps each specific sequence from getting boring. You'll understand what I mean when you see this film. You have to keep in mind that this is a ridiculously long film, coming in at 2 hours and 45 minutes basically. This is my main problem with this's much longer than it needs to be. Don't get me wrong, almost every scene is done really well, but there's obviously a point where it's gonna drag, especially if you're watching it in one sitting at home. I don't know if it would've been fun to watch in the theater or outright torture after the two hour mark. Throw in some previews and getting there early to get popcorn or whatever, and you would've been looking at a 3 and a half hour experience, which is Lord of the Rings-esque. The problem is, nobody warns you that this is nearly a three hour film. And it was marketed incorrectly...if anyone remembers the previews at all, there was never a clear idea what the movie was about, just that it was set in Australia. To be fair, this is kind of a hard movie to categorize: it has so many different elements of it, and it doesn't help that the title makes you believe that the film is completely about Australia. Yes, that's where it's set, and it does have to do with a lot of the country's history, but the subject matter changes throughout the film. The first part of the film is kind of like a murder mystery, another part deals with prejudice against the aboriginals in Australia, the next is an adventure story of sorts, with one part that's completely romance-based, and then the final part of the film plays out like a war film, detailing the town's bombardment by the Japanese during World War II. Confused yet? The different elements of this film come and go, as do characters and faces. It's enough to give the audience whiplash. I wouldn't recommend watching this movie in one sitting. It's really good, but when the mood changes in the film, it feels kinda like you just put a new movie on. While this is interesting, it kinda makes you feel that you just finished a movie and don't want to watch another one, as silly as that sounds. Watch Australia in a couple of different sittings, and you'll be good...just don't watch it all in one go.
    Stephen S Super Reviewer

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