The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: 20th Century Fox - 2008
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 165 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish/French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, Korean, Mandarin, Cantonese, Portuguese
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, David Wenham, Bryan Brown, Jack Thompson
Directed by: Baz Luhrmann
Music by: David Hirschfelder
Written by: Baz Luhrmann, Stuart Beattie, Ronald Harwood, Richard Flanagan
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: March 3, 2009
"A film of epic proportions"
Set in Australia on the brink of World War II, Lady Sarah Ashley, an English Aristocrat (Kidman), travels to the faraway continent where she has inherited a cattle ranch, owned by her late husband. When Australian cattle barons plot to take her land, she reluctantly joins forces with a rough-hewn local known as The Drover (Jackman) to drive 2,000 head of cattle across hundreds of miles of the country’s most unforgiving land, only to still face the bombing of Darwin by the Japanese forces that had attacked Pearl Harbor. When tragedy strikes and Lady Sarah becomes unofficial guardian to a “half-caste” boy, the unlikely couple must come to terms with a prejudiced society, dishonorable business associates and the impending arrival of the Japanese.
There is no mistaking this film’s epic aspirations. To a large degree it succeeds in feeling like an epic with its majestic visuals, beautifully composed music, and carefully drawn (and long) story. I respect Baz Luhrmann as a director and loved what he did with Moulin Rouge which is one of my favorite films. He has a penchant for heart felt filmmaking that truly seems to portray his dedication and connection to his work. I enjoyed this film’s beautiful cinematography, illustrious music, and ostentatious storytelling. The script didn’t build in much development/connection to the main characters and the premise had a formulaic feel that covered way too much familiar territory. I can live with that if the onscreen chemistry between the principles works. I think for me that is where things came up a bit short. Jackman and Kidman gave excellent performances separately but when together they lacked authenticity as a couple. David Wenham is much better in secondary roles in my opinion. His portrayal of the villainous Neil Fletcher just felt disingenuous and hollow. I would like to have seen Bryan Brown in that role because I think he would have given the character better depth. Young Brandon Walter as Nullah gave a charismatic and touching performance that contributed greatly to my of this movie. There is much to like about Australia though. It has an adventurous spirit that makes you root for the good guys even though you know that all will probably work out in the end. What would an epic be without romance? Lastly, it interweaves the treatment experienced by the indigenous people and mixed race children of Australia into the story in such a way that it never feels didactic. I liked Australia and although it may not attain the totality of its epic scope it succeeds in telling its story in Grandiose style which in my opinion makes it worthwhile.
Parental Guide:The rating is for some violence, a scene of sensuality, and brief strong language.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Australia comes to Blu-ray Disc from Fox featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 22 mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.8 mbps.
This is a reference quality high definition video presentation that features resplendent colors and deep, image penetrating resolution. Images boast transparent imagery, with defining sharpness that highlights fine object detail. The sweeping pans and vista views of the Australian landscapes offer three dimensional depth, lucid visual acuity and an almost tangible reach out and touch perspective. Contrast is boldly applied which slightly overdrives whites while adding punch to colors and dynamic quality to sun drenched sequences. Blacks and shadow detail are strong which provides dark scenes with excellent depth of field and noticeable gradational highlights. Colors are rich and vibrant, with deep, beautifully rendered primaries that stand out but appear natural and tonally delineated. The video has a filmic and grainy texture that rarely calls attention to itself during scenes with plenty of light. In dark scenes it occasionally took on more prominence but wasn’t what I would describe as obtrusive. I also noticed in several instances that resolution dropped off slightly. From what I could tell that was innate to the photography and appeared to be related to the integration of CGI and green screen backgrounds.
The DTS-HD multi-channel surround mix is equally impressive and is of reference quality. This soundtrack runs the gamut between subtle passages of spoken dialogue and soft music to thunderous, dynamically charged sequences that deliver opulent surround sound. Dialogue rendering is sublime. Detail is first rate which brings out the finely articulated nuance of background elements within the mix. Dynamics are demonstrative as the aggressive nature and strength of stampeding herds, exploding shells and clapping thunder pulsate with superior authority and powerful deep bass transients. The lavish music score is carefully integrated into the sound design and sounds wonderfully detailed, acoustically transparent and three dimensional. Surround use is prevalent and achieves a high level of envelopment that is appreciably involving. From the gentle sounds of falling rain or blowing wind to the familiar snarl of a flock of single engine Japanese WWII airplanes swirling overhead, sounds were seamlessly blended to create a stable and detail rich sound field. This is an impressive audio/video presentation that took this home theater experience to a higher level.
** CIH users should note that the subtitles appear in the picture area.**
- (HD) 2 deleted scenes
- (HD) Australia: The people, the history, the location - 7 minute documentary
- (HD) Behind the scenes: 9 featurettes
- Production design
- Costume design
- Visual effects
- (HD) Theatrical trailers - A, B, C
- (HD) Theatrical trailer: Slumdog millionaire
Australia is an epic style film that strives for greatness and comes in a bit below the mark. Regardless, it has plenty to offer with its beautiful cinematography, wonderfully crafted music and adventurous story. Its Blu-ray presentation from Fox only serves to make it more enticing as it looks and sounds magnificent. The bonus features are middle of the road but do offer some interesting tidbits on the production and shooting locations used in the film. This is certainly worth the cost of a rental and is a must have for fans.
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JVC DLA-RS20 1080p High Definition Front Projector
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Oppo 970HD universal disc DVD Player (480i HDMI)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BD55K Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Marantz DV7001 Universal Disc Player
Denon AVR 5308CI THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 seven Channel amplifier
Philips TSU9400 Pro Series Touch Panel Remote Control
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SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
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