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Blu-ray Reviews

HTF BD REVIEW: Australia

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#1 of 7 OFFLINE   Michael Osadciw

Michael Osadciw


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Posted March 11 2009 - 02:11 PM

Blu-ray Disc Review


Distributed by: 20th Century Fox Film Year: 2008 Film Length: 165 minutes Genre: Adventure/Romance/Historical
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Colour/B&W: Colour
BD Specifications:
Resolution: 1080/24p
Video Codec: AVC @ 22.5MBPS
Disc Size: BD-50

  • English DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio
  • French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround

  • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, Portuguese
    Film Rating: PG-13

    Release Date: March 03, 2009.


    Starring: Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman), Hugh Jackman (Drover), David Wenham (Neil Fletcher), Brandon Walters (Nullah)

    Screenplay by: Stuart Beattie, Baz Luhrmann, Ronald Harwood & Richard Flanagan
    Directed by: Baz Luhrmann

    Visionary director Baz Luhrmann brings an epic romantic action adventure set on the brink of World War II. Set in Darwin, the northwestern city in Australia, Nicole Kidman is an English aristocrat who travels to this distant land to the troubled cattle ranch of her late husband. She reluctantly joins forces with Hugh Jackman, a cattleman (Drover) to try to save it. The strangers embark on a romantic action adventure with an aboriginal child who is wanted by the Australian government, and they keep him under their protection. But bigger troubles evolve as the Japanese forces that bombed Pearl Harbor bomb Darwin, and the trio is torn apart by their enemies. Baz Luhrmann takes pride in his work as art, so without this film is a different experience altogether, mixing romance, drama, comedy and adventure that is reminiscent of a large theatrical performance while retaining historical accuracy. It’s a film I’ll have to sit through again to fully appreciate.

    Geesh…what does this film not have? You will be generally pleased with the image quality of this film from start to finish and will find yourself immersed in the visuals without any distractions. The opening scene with Nullah, the aboriginal boy wading in the waters among foliage, is lush and vibrant with deep blacks and excellent image contrast delivering a very three dimensional experience. This stage set contrasts with the dry location shooting in Australia, a much more hostile environment with a slightly warmer appearance, but not so warm to make the rest of the film sun burnt. Cut to Lady Ashley’s England; a cool blue in appearance, her skin tone is pale and clean. Even the fake CGI sunsets look wonderful (such as when Lady Ashley tries to comfort a mourning Nellah). Whether it is smallest rocks up in the hills or the decorative cattle ranch Lady Ashley begins to call home, subtle details in the image are noticeable. Resolution is awesome and is what high-def junkies expect from a Blu-ray disc.

    This 5.1 soundtrack, encoded in lossless DTS-HDMA, is a great mix adding to already excellent visuals. Your experience of Australia will be what you expect of surround sound: a wide, deep soundstage, engaging, yet non-intrusive surround effects, and powerful low bass energy. Resolution is very good for a movie soundtrack with the music being a star performer here. Even the background noise sounds very good in the mix. Much of it was recorded with mics set up in the open terrain with the subtleties intact just to be a part of the storytelling. Its effectiveness has not gone unnoticed. The soundtrack’s weak point is the dialogue, which doesn’t always sound spatially integrated. The ADR is too forward and dry, and that can be somewhat ‘removing’ for those who have an ear for it.

    TACTILE FUN!!: 2/5

    There are some good moments in this film for LFE/bass shakers. The stampede of cattle and the climax of the film are quite involving and make a bass shaker a worthwhile add-on.

    I enjoyed the features on the first go. There are two deleted scenes (HD, 3min), a featurette titles Australia: The People, The History, the Location, which is a short historical piece with Luhrmann, Kidman, and Jackman. This HD piece includes historical footage over 60 years old in its original 4:3 aspect ratio. That means a lot to me, as I absolutely hate when old archive footage is reframed for 16:9 featurettes.

    Most interesting are the podcasts with Baz Luhrmann, who really wants to connect all of these featurettes together for the viewer, and help them see how they’ve all contributed to make this film as art. That’s his vision, and his vision works. The featurettes, which cannot be accessed by a “play all” function, can be selected one by one in the special features submenu. Here you will see everything from stills photography/publicity, amplifying drama with location, the role of the director of photography, and post production crew collecting sounds on location for the soundtrack. All are HD. Cool stuff!

  • Photography (4:37)
  • Production Design (5:30)
  • Locations (6:22)
  • Cinematography (6:44)
  • Sound (11:05)
  • Editing (11:05)
  • Music (10:23)
  • Visual Effects (8:40)

    Three theatrical trailers (A, B, C) are included in HD, as well as the theatrical trailer for Slumdog Millionaire.

    IN THE END...

    Excellent audio and video deliver this interesting story historically set during World War II. With a load of interesting special features, Australia is worth visiting.

    Michael Osadciw
    March 11, 2009.

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    Michael Osadciw

    THX/ISF Professional Video Calibrator

    Video Contributor

    CANADA HiFi Magazine

    #2 of 7 OFFLINE   Southpaw


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    Posted March 12 2009 - 01:39 AM

    I just did not like this movie at all. I'm so glad I rented it. I thought the visual effects were laughable and reminded me of Crystal Skull's effects. The movie tried so hard to be more than it was. At first, I thought it was trying to be a comedy. Then an action flick. Finally a love story. As the credits rolled, it ended up being none of the three; it was just empty. Anyway, I do agree that the visual presentation was very good and the audio wasn't shabby either.

    #3 of 7 OFFLINE   Steve_L_B


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    Posted March 12 2009 - 05:04 AM

    That about sums it up for me too. The only thing I can add is that I also found it to be very predictable.

    My wife and I rented and watched this over the weekend. She really liked it, I will probably (her vote counts more than mine Posted Image) never watch it again.


    #4 of 7 OFFLINE   Stephen_J_H


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    Posted March 12 2009 - 09:39 AM

    I'm a huge fan of Luhrmann's work, but missed this in theatres. I will probably rent it first, as that is how I've generally watched his films and they come to grow on me the more I think about them.
    "My opinion is that (a) anyone who actually works in a video store and does not understand letterboxing has given up on life, and (b) any customer who prefers to have the sides of a movie hacked off should not be licensed to operate a video player."-- Roger Ebert

    #5 of 7 OFFLINE   Steven Simon

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    Posted March 13 2009 - 12:22 AM

    I am interested in seeing this film, despite the mediocre reviews.... Sounds like the BluRay image looks fantastic!! Great Review Michael...
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    #6 of 7 OFFLINE   PattyFraser


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    Posted March 13 2009 - 05:24 AM

    Well, I for one really loved it. As did my mother in law. Perhaps it's a chick flick that men generally don't share the love for, as they do with, for example, Pride and Prejudice. I had netflixed the Blu version. Watching it told me it's a movie I want to own. My anniversary is coming up in May. I will drop broad hints.

    #7 of 7 OFFLINE   Ron-P



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    Posted March 13 2009 - 12:25 PM

    Put me in the loved it camp. The comedy, the action, the romance, it all worked very well together and made for a fantastic film.
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