I like Baz. I liked Moulin Rouge. I defend his take on Romeo and Juliet, even when others are cruel to it. He wrote the screenplay to Strictly Ballroom? Hey, that's a good movie! So it's with no malice or ill intent towards the man himself when I tell you that Australia is an absolute catastrophe on every level, devoid of merit and entertainment, sent only to test our willpower. It combines the sappiness of The Notebook with the slo-mo of every Ratner film. Ugh.
Now then, I know what our official take on the film is. However, I think we have all the makings of a gender divide with this film as the two women I spoke to afterward liked it too. My personal problems start with the premise, or lack thereof. Australia is a story that's meant to be about race relations -- while weaving in World War II and the dreaminess of Hugh Jackman. Want a vapid love story without foundation? Australia! Need to feel good about a completely ridiculous look at Aboriginal history? Australia!
I could go on and on, like the movie itself, but just know that 20th Century Fox foisted this mess upon us. I know no one pays attention to who releases what, but consider the following body of work (I've linked to our review where applicable):
That's a murderer's row of ... well, murder. If a friend of yours released a slate like that you'd be asking for their keys and googling "How to stage an intervention". Fox is clearly intent on breaking the general public's addiction to entertainment, one movie at a time.
If you're looking for specific problems (and it seems like everyone always is) then I'll throw out the jarring lack of chemistry between Kidman and Jackman. It was like they filmed them alone on green screen and superimposed their images together afterward. I'll add the total lack of context for serious issues -- Australia treats the serious issues (race relations) as a lark, and the not-so-serious issues (romantic comedy) as very important. Crazy talk. Plus it's damn near three hours long! If you're hitting that three-hour mark you'd better be a masterpiece. Or at least have a central message. Or any semblance of focus on whatever story you're trying to tell. Or a "villain" who isn't so one-note as to draw derisive laughter.
Ugh. Don't see this movie. It's pretty terrible and you'll be angry afterward. I will give one caveat, for all the ladies out there. Yeah, Hugh Jackman is dreamy. But if we can all admit that even Megan Fox can't save Michael Bay we can then admit that even a true artist whiffs every so often. I just wish he hadn't dragged a whole continent down with him.