"AUSTRALIA" strives to be the kind of spectacle typically not seen in theaters since the "ROADSHOW" presentations of yesteryear by FOX! While this reviewer wasn't as blown away by it as everyone else in the home theater screening room, it's hard to argue that "AUSTRALIA" isn't entertaining! Nicole Kidman stars as Lady Sarah Ashley, whom as the film begins, is enroute to Australia to make her husband sell the troubled ranch they own, "FARAWAY DOWNS." Soon after the film begins, she arrives at their ranch, aided by a tough, Bogart-like herder, Hugh Jackman, to find her husband has been murdered, presumably at the hands of a rebellious Aborigine known as "KING GEORGE." The truth, however, although not nearly as transparent to the audience as it should be, reveals some pretty dastardly rancher rival is responsible and framing "KING GEORGE."
The majority of the nearly three hour film that follows, is predictable, but only in a "HOLLYWOOD EPIC" kind of way, and it's acceptable. What drove this reviewer mad, in many scenes, was the complete lack of reality to various sequences. Sure, "AUSTRALIA" expects the audience to suspend disbelief and to simply give in to the undeniable majesty created by Baz Luhrman in many scenes, but are there no limits? "AUSTRALIA" has a lot in it! And, there's enough elements evoking memories of the rare Hollywood spectacle of long ago, to captivate even the most cynical of viewers! Alternatively poignant, funny and sweeping, "AUSTRALIA" feels like a big film, and even while getting sluggish in a few spots, it never feels as long as "WATCHMEN," a fantasy film, comparable in length.
FOX has provided the correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio for this 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 blu-ray release. "AUSTRALIA," while not a flawless presentation, comes pretty damn close! Colors and detail are outstanding throughout the vast majority of the film. The depth to every highly stylized composition, creates consistently dazzling results! The exterior shots are notably more impressive than interior shots, due to slightly inconsistent black levels in some scenes. Still, the fine detail on elaborate costumes, the sweat appearing on the characters while working within the trying rigors of frontier life, and more, can't look much more impressive than what's been achieved on this blu-ray! WOW!
FOX has provided a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. The mix is used most prominently in boosting the immersive, sweeping score. But, there are plenty of discrete effects popping up to enhance a given scene, and bass as well as surrounds kick in to heighten the tension to many action-packed sequences, with a stylized flair, making this a "DEMONSTRATION QUALITY" blu-ray mix! Even when the track is comparatively low-key in regards to more immersive moments, subtle nuanced effects are impressive.
FOX has provided a variety of featurettes, and trailers, all in 1080p!