07 December 2008
Trust Me (And Not Those "Critics")
Before I continue, if you haven't watched Australia, at least watch the trailer: Or, watch the trailer in Hungarian: Now, take a step back, try to be objective, and read what the critics are saying: It just barely scraped into good territory on Rotten Tomatoes with 52 percent. It got a B+ by Yahoo users, and a C+ by Yahoo critics. It got a C- by Entertainment Weekly. It was called a "boring trip through the Outback" by RopeofSilicon.com Bogus, I say. Bogus! Trust me, these people must have been watching with their eyes blindfolded and their ears stuffed with cotton balls. Either that, or they were so concerned with living up to their title of "critic," that they were too afraid to praise this sweeping, dizzying adventure story. And out of all the reviews I read, the most frequent complaint was the movie's daunting 156 minutes. Which was one of the things - besides the sweeping landscape, dazzling cinematography, and hint of magic - I liked a lot about the film. It took it's time. There was no scrambling around at the end to tie everything together because the film's multiple subplots (the second largest critic complaint) all fell nicely into place. I don't really understand why critics like the LATimes are complaining about the fact that it seems like "two or three historical sagas squeezed into one big package." In my opinion, more movie-time means you're getting more for your money. And multiple story-lines kept the film interesting for everyone. Honestly, who really wants to sit through a long, sappy love story with nothing else going on? Not me. But Australia wasn't just a love story -- it was also a story about a different world (and it took the time to show you that world), a story about an imminent war, a story about discrimination and hatred, and a story about over-the-top characters. And maybe sometimes the movie itself went over-the-top, with massive explosions and unreal circumstances. But that was just part of the otherworldliness of it, of the film's in-your-face character, just like that of the Drover. And I don't think that's a negative thing. But Michael Jones of the Huffington Post puts it much better than I ever can in his persusasive review: "Let those without a heart beating in their breasts give Australia less than four stars. Those who boo kids at Easter Egg hunts, yell at referees at junior hockey games, sneer at sunrises, cut in line in front of little old ladies, give out healthy snacks at Halloween, talk during the Star Spangled Banner... they will laugh and slang at Australia. A pox on them. They prove that they are not really members of the human race." Beautiful. You should read the entire review if you want to get a real sense of Australia. Forget all of the bad grades and nonsensical complaints. I mean, can we really trust in the opinions of critics (like the New York Times) who say: "Mr. Jackman gives the movie oomph; Ms. Kidman gives it performance," thus implying that Hugh Jackman cannot act? Yeah, I didn't think so either.