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20th Century Fox
MPAA RATING: PG-13 for some violence, a scene of sensuality, and brief strong language
Australia is an epic and romantic action adventure, set in that country on the explosive brink of World War II. In it, an English aristocrat travels to the faraway continent, where she meets a rough-hewn local and reluctantly agrees to join forces with him to save the land she inherited. Together, they embark upon a transforming journey across hundreds of miles of the world's most beautiful yet unforgiving terrain, only to still face the bombing of the city of Darwin by the Japanese forces that attacked Pearl Harbor. (20th Century Fox)
| RELEASE DATE:
Theatrical: November 14, 2008
||165 minutes, Color
||USA | Australia
All critic scores are converted to a 100-point scale. If a critic does not indicate a score, we assign a score based on the general impression given by the text of the review. Learn more...
Australia goes for the absolute limit in terms of scope. And let's not be coy -- size may not matter, but it still helps.
The Hollywood Reporter
Defies all but the most cynical not to get carried away by the force of its grandiose imagery and storytelling.
There is some elemental human desire -- lately largely denied at the cinema -- to see pretty people in handsome landscapes assuaging our need for epic romance. On that level, Australia delivers with real panache.
A wildly ambitious, luridly indulgent spectacle of romance, action, melodrama and historic revisionism, Australia is windy, overblown, utterly preposterous and insanely entertaining.
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.
It is exuberantly old-fashioned, and I mean that as a compliment.
Deliberately anachronistic in its heightened style of romance, villainy and destiny, the epic lays an Aussie accent on colorful motifs drawn from Hollywood Westerns, war films, love stories and socially conscious dramas. Some of it plays, some doesn't, and it is long.
Wall Street Journal
[Luhrmann's] movie is all over the map. But what a gorgeous map it is. The too-muchness, like the too-longness, befits the Northern Territory's vastness. In its heart of hearts Australia is an old-fashioned Western -- a Northern, if you will -- and all the more enjoyable for it.
With measured visual flash, Luhrmann highlights the delightful presence of his two stars and realizes an unlikely feelgood film, in spite of its grave matters.
Los Angeles Times
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.
The New York Times
A testament to movie love at its most devout, cinematic spectacle at its most extreme, and kitsch as an act of aesthetic communion.
Jackman, who stepped in after a cranky Russell Crowe walked away in a salary dispute, strikes just the right chord as a scruffy romantic hero.
It's an epic pretender, not an epic contender.
Luhrmann is working a tricky game: He's trying to come to terms with modern Australia's racist legacy while telling a ripping yarn while also making fun of ripping yarns - but not too much.
New York Post
Baz Luhrmann's Australia has it all - unfortunately. With four major story lines and more endings than "The Return of the King," this ambitious 165-minute epic is the movie equivalent of an all-you-can-eat buffet.
The result is mostly a woodenly derivative melding of '40s maternal melodramas, oaters, and World War II actioners.
Yes, you can enjoy bits and pieces along the way, more than a few, even. At the end of this journey, though, you feel more exhaustion and relief than catharsis or satisfaction.
Luhrmann's squirrelly, five-exclamation-point stylings mercifully subside after the first 20 minutes or so, leaving behind a palatable big-screen confection.
You know something's amiss when you're in the middle of a picture that runs under three hours and you're tempted to whip out your cellphone and send friends a text message that reads "Send food."
I left Australia feeling drained and weakened, as if I'd suffered a gradual poisoning at the hands of a mad scientist.
Like the last two "Pirates" movies, Australia is ambitious more than awe-inspiring, grandiose rather than grand, full of spectacle but not spectacular.
The Onion (A.V. Club)
It almost goes without saying that the film looks gorgeous, but the filmmaking behind it feels unsure how to work on this grand a scale. Australia is big. But it never fills the screen.
New York Magazine
Jackman has musical-theater chops and knows how to sell material this ham-handed; Kidman isn't quite as deft. I've always admired her gumption in working so hard to overcome a certain temperamental tightness--but that tightness has now spread to her skin.
Really should have been made 60 years ago. It would have been timelier, with its tale of life in the remote north of that country during World War II. The juicy overacting, stereotypes and dramatic exaggerations would have been more in keeping with the style of the Golden Age of Hollywood.
At times the film appears on the verge of morphing into a singing-cowboy musical.
Luhrmann wants it all – comedy and tragedy, bombast and wet-eyed sentimentality. When it works, his kid-in-a-candy-store giddiness is infectious. When it doesn't – when he goes from silly to turgid in 60 seconds flat – he punctures Australia's proportions down from epic to simply overwrought.
If looks were everything, director Baz Luhrmann's epic salute to his native land would be the movie of the year. But, crikey, a padded script bloated with subplots and shameless sentimentality can wear you down.
The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
All in all, Australia is so damnably eager to please that it feels like being pinned down by a giant overfriendly dingo and having your face licked for about three hours: theoretically endearing but, honestly, kind of gross.
Long before the second hour of Australia (which feels like the fifth), it's clear that Luhrmann hasn't found a satisfactory way to make a movie nearly as ballsy -- or coherent -- as he wants his creation to be.
Christian Science Monitor
The film also seems to end at least four times, which is three times too many. Better yet, it never should have started.
To marvel at the purity of Australia's corniness isn't to imply that the movie functions as so-bad-it's-good camp, or guilty pleasure, or anything else involving aesthetic enjoyment.
New York Daily News
With Australia, Luhrmann obviously intends to stage a grand romance against the epic backdrop of World War II. But what we get instead is an unwieldy mess that needed another six months in the editing room.
Luhrmann steals good ideas, fair ideas and terrible ideas - anything that once moved him when he was a little boy. He's turned Australia into a more-than-you-can-eat buffet of colorful kitsch.
A self-impressed epic with grandiose vistas, flat characters, and a subplot about Native Australians.
San Francisco Chronicle
Australia shows all the signs of having been a labor of love for director Baz Luhrmann. One problem: It's his love, and the audience's labor.
The average user rating for this movie is 7.0 (out of 10) based on 50 User Votes
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