Australia Baz Luhrmann

Australia Baz Luhrmann
Australia was hyped as the epic of the decade, so anything short of an Oscar sweep would be considered a failure. But when the movie crashed and burned with critics and at the box office it became 2008's most spectacular flop. Australia's downfall wasn't hype or reactionary reviews — the movie's just plain awful. It pits English aristocrat Lady Ashley (a stone-faced Nicole Kidman) and her rough Aussie ranch hand "Drover" (Hugh Jackman) against Neil Fletcher (David Wenham), a cattle station manager whose employer seeks control over the Australian beef industry. Ashley and Drover fight and fall in love while bringing their herd to Darwin before Fletcher can stop them. This plot's resolution should end the film but Australia hangs around for another hour-and-a-half, dragging us five years into the future so we can see the trio duke it out again against the backdrop of World War II Japanese air raids. Adding to this visually striking three-hour mess is the character of Nullah, a half-Aborigine boy adopted by Lady Ashley who's under constant threat of being taken away by white authorities. His story is meant as an indictment of the treatment of Aboriginals but between his annoyingly unnecessary narration and a half-hearted attempt at moral grandstanding it's difficult to care. Australia is like watching Gone With the Wind and Rabbit-Proof Fence at the same time. Luhrmann's insistence on delivering a flashy old-Hollywood epic with a conscience turns a boring film into something downright insipid. The director was still editing the film weeks before the film's release and the absence of any significant extras (there are only a pair of deleted scenes) leaves room for a more robust package with a director's cut in the near future. (Fox)