Baz Luhrmann’s homeland epic “Australia” premiered in Sydney last night, following months of buzz as grandiose as the outback landscapes and passionate love story at the center of the film. The most over-the-top praise came from none other than Oprah herself, who told Luhrmann a few weeks ago: “Congratulations on your imagination, your vision, your creativity, your direction. Our hearts are all swelling because, my God, it’s just the film we needed to see.”
We’re not sure who she meant to include in “our hearts,” because the early reviews are in, and it doesn’t seem like anyone shares her sweeping love for the movie. Although as Spout Blog points out, Oprah’s endorsement probably doesn’t matter (she’s failed to guarantee box-office gold with her past faves like “Sicko” and “Love in the Time of Cholera”), it does stand in pretty stark contrast to the British and Australian press’ take on the movie that’s supposed to single-handedly revive the Australian tourism and film industries.
Read selections from the most biting reviews after the jump.
“There is a lot of narrative flab and longueurs…often has the pace of a steamroller with engine trouble”.
“The word “crikey” is spouted so often the film often sounds like a tribute to Steve Irwin.”
“If only Baz had made the damn thing shorter by at least half an hour.” – Sydney Morning Herald
“It has every Australian cliché you could hope for, from kangaroos and Nicole Kidman to aborigines going walkabout and, yep, Waltzing Matilda.” – The Guardian
“Local critics had worried that the much-anticipated film Australia would present to the world a series of time-honoured Antipodean clichés. Their fears were well founded.” – Telegraph
“The film opens with a gorgeous prologue set in a billabong and introducing the film’s best asset, the narrator Nullah (10-year-old Brandon Walters). Then it lurches into 15 minutes of crazed story establishment that recall Luhrmann’s worst excesses on Moulin Rouge.” – The Australian
If you still want to go see it, it might be best to adopt Nicole Kidman’s perspective: “It’s not meant to be the Second Coming. It’s meant to be, ‘Let’s have some fun and enjoy it.'” Or skip it and wait until Baz Luhrmann makes a movie that he finishes at least a week before the premiere.