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:: Australia

When the people behind a film over promote it they take a massive risk that they may indeed shoot themselves in the foot by raising the audience’s expectations of the film just a little too much. That is certainly the case with ‘Australia’; you walk in expecting gold and you walk out with a pocket full of ‘fool’s gold.’

‘Australia’ tells the story of Drover (Hugh Jackman) and Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman) who come together to save the outback station that Sarah is left to look after after the murder of her husband. Sarah struggles to adapt from England to the harsh outback and her life is made harder by the fact that King Carney (Bryan Brown) and Neil Fletcher (David Wenham) will stop at nothing to see Drover and Sarah fail. Sarah also battles to protect a young Aboriginal boy, Nullah (Brandon Walters) whom the authorities are desperately trying to make move to a mission.

This is one of those films that will have you impressed at one moment but then greatly disappointed the next. The first ten minutes of the film are woeful. Kidman and Jackman are forced to work with a script that makes both their characters seem like ‘comic send-ups’ of what they should be. It seems dangerously out of place, as for the rest of the film the characters are ‘normal’. While this trick worked in Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Moulin Rouge’ but fails miserable here.

The storyline of the film often lets down its audience during the film and some of the blue screen shots used are the worst seen in cinema since the ‘Chronicles Of Narnia’ series. And while the cinematography of capturing the outback works wonderfully, the scenes depicting the bombing of Darwin are very average indeed. Luhrmann tries in vain to emulate the shots used by Michael Bay in ‘Pearl Harbour’ but just doesn’t manage to do it.

There are several things that do save the film though. Some of the acting performances are sensational. Hugh Jackman and Brandon Walters deserve awards for their performances while David Wenham even makes the villainous Neil Fletcher a treat to watch. The big disappointment is Nicole Kidman. Her performance is below average and is a sure sign that her better acting days are well and truly behind her.

The other thing that makes ‘Australia’ watchable is the fact that the film does allow the audience to care about what happens to some of the characters. I’d be lying if I said that my heart wasn’t in my mouth at various times when Drover and Nullah’s lives are at risk, but even then it did seem that Luhrmann didn’t exactly know how to draw out the suspense for as long as he should of.

When viewing ‘Australia’ the most important thing to do is to enter the cinema with the thought they you are going to see ‘just another film’ and close your mind to thoughts like ‘this is an Oscar winner’ or ‘this is the film that will save Australia’s film industry’. ‘Australia is well worth the price of admission, just don’t expect an absolute gem.