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Wick's Review

Created Dec 07, 2008 02:40PM PST • Edited Apr 16, 2015 01:25AM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Very Good 3.5

    Retro, romantic, and refreshingly revisionist, Baz Luhrmann’s latest stylized production hits more than it misses in its grand sweep of his native country. A great date movie for grownups, this big, big show has something for both men and women, though I can’t imagine many guys taking it in on their own.

  3. Very Good 3.5

    “That Nicole Kidman sure can act”, a departing patron declared as we approached the theater. Indeed, Kidman is magnetically interesting as a fiery yet silly British aristocrat who finds her calling as the “Miss Boss” of her family’s down-and-out cattle station in wild and wacky wartime Australia.

    Fellow Aussie superstar Hugh Jackman certainly cleans up well as her love interest and life partner, justifying I suppose his recent coronation as People’s Sexiest Man Alive, but he’s not intrinsically interesting the way his co-star is. Or for that matter the way that Russell Crowe is, explaining perhaps why the man above Jackman in the Aussie movie star pantheon was the actor first offered this role.

    Newcomer Brandon Walters, all of ten years old when the movie was made, charms magnificently as the Aboriginal boy who unites the two Anglo superstars. After seeing this performance, it is easy to agree with filmmaker Baz Luhrmann that this doe-eyed kid has a great future in the movies. Also notable is David Gulpilil, as the boy’s Aboriginal grandfather and guardian angel.

    The rest of the large cast fades into the scenery, a disappointment that lessens the movie’s impact. Even the great Bryan Brown as a quasi-evil cattle baron doesn’t deliver a memorable performance.

  4. Male Stars Very Good 3.5
  5. Female Stars Great 4.0
  6. Female Costars Barely OK 2.0
  7. Male Costars Good 3.0
  8. Great 4.0

    Just this side of hokey at the outset, the movie finds its footing as the tenderfoot boss lady joins up with her inevitable love interest early in this long film, and really gathers resonance when their parental instincts are triggered by the appearance of a magical half-caste boy. From there the story meanders from Western (rival cattle barons fighting for dominance) to family drama (a parent dies, a child is in jeopardy) to wartime epic (air raids make on-the-ground conflicts small in comparison). Whew! Amazingly it all pretty much works, rewarding the audience with an engaging experience for their nearly three hour investment of time.

  9. Direction Very Good 3.5

    This is my favorite Baz Luhrmann movie so far, not saying much since Strictly Ballroom and especially Moulin Rouge! were too stylized for my tastes.

  10. Play Very Good 3.5
  11. Music Really Great 4.5
  12. Visuals Perfect 5.0
  13. Content
  14. Tame 1.5

    Sufficient innuendo and violence to be bracing without jeopardizing the PG-13.

  15. Sex Innocent 1.3
  16. Violence Fierce 1.8
  17. Rudeness Polite 1.5
  18. Glib 1.5

    The movie highlights two historical tragedies: the “Pearl Harbor of Australia” and the Stolen Generations of indigenous children.

    The Darwin bombings were “were the largest attacks ever mounted by a foreign power against Australia,” according to Wikipedia.

    The Stolen Generations refers to “those children of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent who were removed from their families by the Australian and State government agencies and church missions,” according to Wikipedia.

    So why the overall Reality score of 1.5x? Beyond normal plot contrivances, the movie posits that Aboriginal magic is real, and that there is no other side to the Stolen Generations saga than that of racist and rapacious Anglos. Makes for a good movie, but begs many questions in the process.

  19. Circumstantial Surreal 2.1
  20. Biological Glib 1.4
  21. Physical Natural 1.0


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