Movie Review: "Australia" (Opens Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2008)



Are you hankering to see a good old fashioned western? Do you like a well-written story that has a strong historical basis? Have you always wanted to visit Australia? Do you have about three hours to spare?

If your answers are ‘yes’, ‘yes’, ‘yes’ and ‘yes’, I have a movie suggestion for you…and it’s called “Australia”. You say you’re not sure about the long screening time? Well, it’s a lot less time than flying there. Of course there is a catch…isn’t there always? Australia by plane is set in 2008. “Australia” the movie is set in the late 1930s, but that’s where the historical slant comes in.

Here are some details about this movie. At the outset, I’ll admit that I liked it. It stars Nicole Kidman as Lady Sarah Ashley, Hugh Jackman as Drover and young Brandon Walters as Nullah. Kidman (Sarah) leaves civilized England to travel into the wilds of Australia. She finds herself with an inherited ranch and 1600 head of cattle that need to be delivered to the city of Darwin. Jackman (Drover) reluctantly agrees to take on the job of bossing the drive to Darwin under difficult circumstances. Of course, there are villains -- King Carney, played by Bryan Brown and Neil Fletcher, played by David Wenham. They both have reasons to interfere with the drive. So there you have it. You'll see an old western plot, played out on the broad canvas of the Australian outback.

Brandon Walters is wonderful as Nullah. He brings us to the history of the Australian lost generation. A boy of an aboriginal mother and a Caucasian father, he must deal with the government’s continuous attempts to take him from his mother and his grandfather, to live with other "lost children" under the auspices of the Catholic Church. Sarah and Drover become important in his life but even they are powerless to openly contradict this process. Nullah can only avoid this fate by hiding as long as possible from the officers charged with the responsibility of apprehending these mixed-race children. The thread of Nullah’s story is deftly interwoven with the cattle drive and ranching plot.

Everything comes to a climax as the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor on December 7th 1941and proceed south to attack Darwin and anything along the way.

Now that I’ve seen “Australia” the movie, it seems as if our planned vacation to Australia next October will be something to experience. We will be in transit a total of 22 hours and our destination is Sydney. What’s a day spent in flying to such a remote location? It’ll be worth it.

“Australia” the movie is worth it also. I’m rating it a B+ on Ellen’s Entertainment Report Card.

Directed by: Baz Luhrmann
Screenplay by: Stuart Beattie and Baz Luhrmann
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, David Wenham, Bryan Brown, Jack Thompson
Rating: PG-13 for some violence, a scene of sensuality, and brief strong language.
Running Time: 165 minutes