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Australia
BLU-RAY disk
03.31.2009 By: Sturdy
Australia order
Director:
Baz Luhrmann

Actors:
Nicole Kidman
Hugh Jackman
David Wenham

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
When a widowed English woman travels to Australia to handle her dead husbandís affairs, she discovers she owns a beautiful ranch and is the sole competitor to an evil cattle-ranch owner. With the help of a rugged drover, she builds up the land an challenges the evil owner.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Baz Luhrmann cannot make a bad film, but AUSTRALIA proves he can make an average film. AUSTRALIA is a beautiful, epic film that was a few edits and a script revision away from being fantastic. I liked the story and I enjoyed the performances (for the most part), but the obvious sentimentality that Luhrmann tried to manufacture was a detriment throughout the entire film.

The film is a combination of two different themes. On one hand, you have the story of Kidman and Jackman, which was close to being very captivating and gripping. On the other hand, you have the story of the racial strife regarding the Aborigines, which was not done very well and very poorly executed. But combining those two very different themes is the main problem with the film because they didnít work by themselves and certainly didnít work when combined.

I knew what he was trying to do with the Aborigine story, he just didn't do it very well. The Aborigines are an important part of Australiaís history, but the movie suffered greatly when the attention was on them. Just when weíre getting interested in the peril facing Kidman, Jackman and their little boy, the story is diverted to focus on the Aborigines. The audience wanted more of Kidman and Jackman and not just because theyíre big stars, but because their story was actually interesting. Luhrmann also fell into a trap of trying to evoke false emotions from the audience. We had to sit through a couple of scenes where the onscreen actors were emotional about something that the audience already knew wasnít true. That only prolongs the film and does nothing to push the story.

At first, I wasnít impressed with the performances, but right around the hour marker, the performances really stepped up. I think in the first hour, Baz was trying to make it too much like MOULINE ROUGE and the actors werenít sure what they were trying to be. But at some point, they abandoned the silly tone and focused on telling a more serious story.
THE EXTRAS
Australia: The People, the History, the Location (7:01): This is just a simple featurette showing various landscapes in Australia combined with archival footage. There are a few movie clips, but this is worth the look, just for the visuals.

Behind the Scenes (71:31): This is broken up into 9 different featurettes that cover every aspect of filmmaking. These might have been webisodes at some point, but watching them on Blu-ray is a treat. They cover the more technical aspects of filmmaking, but they show you enough behind the scenes footage to keep you interested. Overall, this is a pretty cool feature.

Deleted Scenes (2:58): Two, minute long scenes in a near-three hour movie arenít going to make much of a difference. These scenes didnít have to be cut, but I could find about 30 minutes worth in the film that did need to.

There are some Previews
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
I really wanted to like AUSTRALIA, but it made it really hard for me. Luhrmann is a fantastic director, but he got a little carried away with this one and lost sight of the story he was trying to tell. At just under three hours, Iím not sure Iíd even recommend a rental.
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