Friday, January 24, 2014

Australia (2008) [PG-13] ***

Out of Africa meets Pearl Harbor meets Quigley Down Under in this romantic action and adventure epic set in Australia's Northern Territory in 1939, just prior to World War II. Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman) is a British aristocrat who has journeyed from England to force her husband to sell Faraway Downs, their 10,000 square mile cattle station, so they can pay off their debts back in England. But when her husband is brutally murdered, she realizes that the real threat comes from King Carney (Bryan Brown) a cattle baron who wants a beef monopoly and is stealing her cattle. Facing bankruptcy, Sarah decides to sell 1,500 head of cattle to the Australian army. Reluctantly she joins forces with Drover (Hugh Jackman), a rough-hewn stockman who is an outcast because of his friendships with aborigines, and the pair embark on an adventure to drive the herd north across hundreds of miles of the country's most desolate, yet beautiful, outback.

Despite a cattle stampede started by King Carney's hired gunmen, led by Neil Fletcher (David Wenham), Sarah and Drover complete the journey and arrive in the port city of Darwin. Soon afterwards, they witness its bombing by the Japanese naval forces that had attacked Pearl Harbor months earlier, thus marking Australia's entry into the war. Australia requires viewer patience due to its length and its occasional lapses into self-parody. The film features good performances from Kidman, Jackman, Wenham, Brown and Brandon Walters as Nullah, the half-caste boy who narrates the film and steals the hearts of Sarah and Drover as well as those of the audience. There is gorgeous cinematography and fairly good romantic chemistry between the ruggedly handsome Hugh Jackman and the delicately beautiful, porcelain-skinned Nicole Kidman. Co-written and directed by Baz Luhrmann, there are no real plot twists or surprises, good triumphs over evil, and the ending is uplifting. 

Labels: adventure, drama, history, romance, war, western, WWII
Internet Movie Database
Metacritic 53/100
Tomatometer (critics=55, viewers=65)

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