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It’s not the epic failure some had predicted. Nor is it the masterpiece many had hoped for and the overbearing ad campaign suggested.

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman

It’s not the epic failure some had predicted.

Nor is it the masterpiece many had hoped for and the overbearing ad campaign suggested.

Turns out the most hyped film to come out of Australia is an entertaining, visually breathtaking movie that overstays its welcome and, lapses into sentimentality.

In the days leading up to World War II, Lady Sarah Ashley (Kidman) has to drive 1500 head of cattle to Darwin to save her farm in the Northern Territory.

Helping her negotiate the tough terrain is reluctant guide the Drover (Jackman) and Aboriginal boy Nullah (Brandon Walters). Standing in Lady Ashley’s way is dastardly cattle baron King Carney (Bryan Brown) and his right-hand man Neil Fletcher (David Wenham).

Then there’s the added danger that the Japanese could bomb Darwin.

Australia is very much a film of two halves.

Early scenes on the farm are skilfully put together by director Baz Luhrmann.

A thunderous stampede is the film’s best action set piece.

Then our little group reaches Darwin and things start to slide.

The romance between Lady Ashley and the Drover is pure cheddar, while a poorly executed climax and a ridiculously long running time add to the slump.

Sadly, these bum notes detract from the film’s message about the Stolen Generations.

Still, if it’s spectacle you want, look no further than Australia. PIERRE DE VILLIERS


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