james' Review of Australia
Set against the scenic backdrop of pre-World War II Australia, Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman), an English aristocrat, travels to Australia and inherits a sprawling ranch from her deceased husband, while Dover (Hugh Jackman), a rough-and-tumble cattle driver, helps protect her property from greedy English cattle barons. As the pair attempt to herd 2,000 head of cattle hundreds of miles across the treacherous Australian outback, they are stunned to bear witness to the bombing of Darwin by Japanese forces.
The cast does a tremendous job acting. Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman have great chemistry here, and both manage to do some brilliant acting. The characters, however, are very thinly concieved caricatures, serving only one purpose and not doing much apart from their purpose, be it seduce Nicole Kidman, be the one-dimensional villian or to die.
The sets, I wouldn't call them breathtaking, but I feel they are quite close to the word, an astonishment to watch.
I like that this film focuses on the racism, showing the ugly face of it and how prominent it was ages ago, but it just feels like this is the kind of thing we'd see done much better in another film that has already come out. Heck, the entire film feels like that.
One huge drawback of this film is its running time of nearly THREE HOURS! Thats fine for a film that needs three hours to fully tell its story, like The Godfather, or any of the Lord of The Rings films, but three hours was very much unneeded here.
I felt that the first half hour of the film was very much out of place with the rest of the film. With the first half hour, we had attempts at comedy what with the bar fight and just silly moments with the kangaroo getting shot and Nicole Kidmans shocked face in a close up. The rest of the film felt very far away from this, what with the racism, the romance and all the dying.
WARNING! If you haven't seen this film yet and want to avoid spoilers, skip the next paragraph
I also felt the film was very hindered by it having a very much Disney ending, by having the family pretty much reunited together. It just felt a bit too heavy-handed to have the lovers and little Nullah survive the Japanese bombings. I'm not saying they should've all been killed off (a number of you may say that though), but they shouldn't have made us believe Lady Ashley and Nullah were dead if they were going to bring them back for a happy ending. I mean, Titanic did well with it's tragic ending of killing off one half of the center couple, why couldn't Australia? Not every cinematic love story set during a tragedy needs to have the couple surviving
Australia is a very ambitious film that fails to concieve any originality or many characters that aren't one dimensional, and is hindered by its overlong running time and its ending, despite being wonderful to look at and filled with brilliant performances.