12/02/2008 04:52:00 pm


Posted by Unknown |

Aust Crikey 2.jpg

I saw Australia today. It was better than I expected, but I didn't expect much.

The first 20 minutes were woeful. Nicole paraded around being some caricature of English aristocracy. While Hugh played the almost slapstick, handsome, buff, noble and rough drover, who's name happens to be Drover.

The whole film made Australia out to be some magical land, inhabited by the magical Aboriginal folk, where Aborigines and White people could all learn to get along if only the Aboriginals were aloud to drink with the Whites. As we all know giving grog to Indigenous Australians was probably the white man's greatest gift.

Anyway, the film isn't really about alcohol. It's about romance and adventure and cute half-caste kids who sing tunes from The Wizard of Oz because they're about "the dreaming".

Once Nicole stops being such a princess the film improves.

There's a good bit of droving where there's a lot of cattle and horses riding around fast. That's pretty cool. Except when the magical black kid sings to the cattle to stop them stampeding of a cliff. Dumb.

The whole magical Aborigines thing is probably the worst thing about the film. I read a reviewer over AICN saying that "the film turns Aboriginal culture into supernatural magic. The condescension in this film is unavoidable."

I tend to agree. Apart from the kid, the Indigenous people don't seem to be anything but trusty sidekicks or magical, friendly leprechauns of the outback.

Apart from all that, the film isn't terrible. The dialogue leaves a bit to be desired (Drover keeps saying "Crikey!"), but Hugh Jackman is always cool, even when he's hamming it up. There was one bit where Hugh was was trying to help some kids escape from the Japanese who are hunting them on an island. I was hankering for Wolverine to just breakout his claws and tear them all to shreds. Alas he didn't. He left his trusty black sidekick to die like Jesus while he and kids swam to safety.

Michael Bay should have been brought on as the Second Unit director to shoot the whole Darwin bombing sequence. I was really excited about that bit. We need a bit of WWII movie action in Australia. But Baz isn't an action director, and sadly the whole bombing sequence is lacks all tension, and doesn't use one of its many explosions well.

The film essentially tells two stories. One which is quite succinct for the first half, which could have easily been the film. And another in the second half which isn't nearly as well structured, but does have more explosions, planes and guns in it so it gets points for that.

As I said, it's not all bad. There's just a lot of stuff that's not very good. I wasn't bored for most of the time. The Northern Territory is a good looking part of the world and you get to see plenty of that. If do you go see it arrive 50 minutes late (that's counting for the ads before-hand) and you'll have a much better time.