Tom Hardy Named as Next Mad Max

The new Mad Max film is now one step closer to becoming a reality:

BRITISH actor Tom Hardy is expected to step into Mel Gibson’s lead role in the new Mad Max film.

Hardy, a 31-year-old rising star who recently won acclaim for a UK television production of Wuthering Heights, will star opposite Oscar winner Charlize Theron in the new movie, Mad Max: Fury Road, the Sunday Express reported.

British Film Magazine editor Terence Doyle told the newspaper: “It’s a major coup for Tom, cementing his status as one of our biggest emerging stars.”

“He’s a very versatile actor who is convincingly tough and macho but also hugely sensitive and subtle.”

A film insider said filming would start in Australia next year.

The new project comes 25 years after the third movie in the series, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, which co-starred Tina Turner.  [AAP]

I don’t know much about Tom Hardy, but he is going to have some big shoes to fill being the next Mad Max.  I can’t wait to see the show though.

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Australian Geographic April – June 2009 Released

The latest issue of Australian Geographic is out and was a great read as usual.  The cover story this issue is about the great variety of butterflies located on the Cape York Peninsula:


CAPE YORK Peninsula’s Iron Range National Park (NP), which encloses the country’s largest wedge of lowland tropical rainforest, is a confounding place to go chasing butterflies. To be sure, the butterfly diversity here, midway between Cairns and New Guinea, far outstrips and outshines that of any other slice of Australia – more than half of the country’s species occur here, and many nowhere else. But the distractions are no less dazzling.

One hot and heavy day last December, at the height of the build-up to the Wet, I joined a pair of dedicated butterfly hounds in a small clearing on a bank of Gordon Creek, a tributary of the Claudie River. Naturalists Peter Valentine and Steve Johnson had been coming here almost every year since 1976. They’re butterfly “twitchers” – of Australia’s 400 or so butterfly species, they’d tracked down and collected nearly every one – but they’re much more than that. As well as netting and preserving butterflies for identification purposes, they like to nut out life histories and conservation needs, often from scratch. This necessarily involves finding and fitting together the various pieces of the metamorphosis puzzle – matching caterpillars with butterflies by identifying food plants, detecting eggs, hatching them into larvae, watching them pupate and documenting the butterflies’ short but glorious bursts of reproductive life.

Still, come daybreak at Gordon Creek I awoke to a din of a different order. Rapturous coos, peals, squeals, whistles, staccato gasps and myriad other siren calls, testament to a forest teeming with yellow-billed kingfishers, red-bellied pittas, trumpet manucodes and magnificent riflebirds. A white-faced robin clung curiously to a nearby tree. A superb fruit-dove sat on its flimsy nest at chest height and only 20 m away. Beyond it, eclectus parrots flew in and out of a hubcap-sized hole in a tree, caaark-ing like crows with megaphones, while a cuscus – a 75 cm long tree-dwelling mammal – mooched about in the canopy.  [Australian Geographic]

This story of Queensland’s amazing butterflies is just another example of the great biodiversity of the Cape York Peninsula that also includes the Hercules Moth which if people didn’t know better would think was a butterfly. 

The magazine this month also has a number of other great articles about the various land reserves in Australia, the rock art of the Kimberly, a profile of Dimboola, Victoria, and my favorite article about a group of convicts that escaped a remote Tasmanian prison and were forced to turn to cannibalism to survive.  Of course there is plenty more to read so check it out. 

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Australia Movie Premiers in England

I guess Nicole Kidman has to do something to get British people to watch her new movie, Australia:

NICOLE Kidman has braved the London cold in a white see-through dress on the red carpet for the premiere of Australia.
Kidman appeared alongside Hugh Jackman, director, writer and producer Luhrmann, and his wife Catherine Martin. If Kidman was surprised by the flashbulbs catching her out, she shouldn’t have been. Only days before in Spain, the same thing happened to her with camera lights catching her out at the Madrid premiere of Australia.

The film has received mixed reviews, in particular being criticised for offering a stereotyped view of Australia, but Kidman said: “I hope people like it and it makes them fall in love with my country.

“I hope they realise it’s funny and romantic and it’s a popcorn movie.”  [Herald-Sun]

No this is not a popcorn movie, in fact it is barely watchable.  Yes it was funny at points, but definitely not romantic.  Plus I seriously doubt the movie will cause any surge in tourism in Australia.  Who wants to go to a country filled with drunk, sweaty, racist people in need of a shower?  That is the way the movie makes Australians look.
Anyway you can read my full Australia movie review here.
For those curious here is how Kidman looked at the British premiere:
They weren’t kidding when they said she was wearing a see through dress:
Here is Kidman with co-star Hugh Jackman:
Hugh Jackman was recently seen on the popular American TV program the view passing off false history about his country further tarnishing the image of Australians abroad.  Anyone from the UK reading this I would save this one for a DVD rental because the only thing that could save this movie would be if Nicole Kidman was wearing a see through dress throughout the movie, which unfortunately she isn’t.
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Bear Grylls Injured On Antarctica Expedition

The host of one of my favorite TV shows appears to have actually met his match in Antarctica:

Adventurer and TV show host Bear Grylls injured his shoulder in Antarctica during an expedition to raise money for an international charity, the Discovery Channel said Sunday.

Grylls was injured Friday night after falling during the expedition, which was not for the Discovery Channel, according to the network’s statement.

The statement said that Grylls is returning to the UK to receive medical attention.

“Once he sees a doctor, we will have a better sense of the level of seriousness of his shoulder injury and the recovery time needed to get him back to his full physical activity,” according to the statement.

Grylls, 34, is the host of Discovery’s “Man vs. Wild” in which he demonstrates extreme measures — including eating snakes and insects — used to survive in harsh environmental conditions.

In his blog, Grylls said the aim of his expedition in Antarctica — sponsored by Ethanol Venture — is “to promote alternative energies and their potential.”  [CNN]

For those that watch his show, he has had plenty of close calls but it appears Antarctica at least for now has got the better of this survival show host.

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Australia Movie Places 5th in US Box Office Sales

After its poor opening day, the Australia movie staring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman continued to do poorly the rest of the weekend finishing fifth and only making nearly $15,000,000 for a movie that cost a $130 million US dollars to make.  To put that in perspective Twilight which is in its second week made nearly double the amount of money Australia made with a budget of only $37 million US dollars.

This Wk Last Wk Title Dist. Weekend Gross Cumulative
Gross
Rlse
Wks
# of
Theaters
1 - Four Christmases Warner Bros. Pictures Distribution $31,680,000 $46,710,000 1 3310
2 3 Bolt Buena Vista Pictures Distribution $26,596,000 $66,862,000 2 3654
3 1 Twilight Summit Entertainment, LLC $26,370,000 $119,688,000 2 3425
4 2 Quantum Of Solace Sony Pictures Releasing $19,500,000 $142,056,000 3 3501
5 - Australia 20th Century Fox Distribution $14,815,000 $20,000,000 1 2642
6 4 Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa DreamWorks, Paramount Pictures $14,500,000 $159,511,000 4 3709
7 - Transporter 3 Lionsgate $12,330,000 $18,500,000 1 2626
8 5 Role Models Universal Pictures $5,284,000 $57,896,000 4 2195
9 8 The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Miramax Films $1,690,000 $5,160,000 4 582
10 - Milk Focus Features $1,381,000 $1,866,000 1 36
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The Australia Movie Flops On Opening Day in the US

This confirms my earlier suspicions, the Australia movie flopped at the US box office:

The much-hyped Baz Luhrmann movie Australia has flopped at the US box office on its opening day, according to reports.

Figures quoted from US entertainment newspaper Variety said the movie made a paltry $3.4 million on its Thursday opening in the key market.

That worked out at a per screen average of $1318, compared to the $35,055 per screen earned by teen movie and box office leader, Twilight.  [Sydney Morning Herald]

It will be interesting to see what its total take on its opening weekend is on Monday because I don’t expect its number to improve much once word of mouth about how disappointing the movie is spreads.

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On Walkabout Movie Review: The Australia Movie

Introduction

I spent this Thanksgiving back in the US and my wife and I made sure to that we would go out and watch the movie premier of director Baz Luhrmann’s Australia movie. We were both expecting this film to be a great movie and a hit in the US considering the rather good impression Americans have of Australians and the sheer lack of quality movies currently being released.

You can watch the trailer for the movie below:

However, since we are now back in the US we noticed a lack of promotion of the movie on TV. This lack of promotion of the movie was my first sign that maybe this movie is not as good as I expected. This lack of promotion of the movie became quite evident when my wife and I attended the premier of the movie today and the theater was nearly empty. Yes I know it is a holiday in the US by the theater literally had five people in it plus my wife and I.

Anyway my wife and I were still excited to see the movie anyway and even wore t-shirts and hats from Australia to the theater. I know it is corny but like I said before we were excited to see a film about Australia. However, after watching the entire film that would be as excited as we would get because the movie was a bit of a let down.

The Plot

Basically the movie is about British aristocrat, Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman) who travels to Australia in search of her husband who went to the continent to sell his holdings in a cattle station there. Ashley thinks her husband is having an affair there and wants to confront him. With the aid of a man only known in the movie as the The Drover (Hugh Jackman) she travels to her husband’s cattle station in the Northern Territory Outback and discovers he has been murdered.

Ashley discovers that a rival rancher has been stealing cattle from the station in order to bankrupt it and then claim the land. To save the ranch Ashley decides to conduct one last cattle drive with the aid of The Drover and his friends to the port city of Darwin to sell the cattle to the Australian Army and receive enough money to save the ranch. During the cattle drive she falls in love with The Drover which watching the movie seemed extremely peculiar considering just a few days prior she was looking at the murdered body of her husband. That fact alone for me anyway killed any romance in the movie plus Kidman and Jackman if you can believe this, had very little chemistry in the movie and their dialogue was unimpressive. Finally, who wants to watch romance develop with a woman who is willing to dump the memory of her husband in such a short time? Not me, but I am willing to bet there are probably plenty of women out there who do the same thing to make out with Hugh Jackman. ;-)

Anyway if this movie just stayed with the cattle drive to save the ranch storyline I think the movie would have been much better then it is. However, the film continued on and on, and on some more, ultimately ending with the Japanese bombing of Darwin during World War II. This movie was so long (3 hours) that I felt like I was watching multiple movies, especially considering how the plot went in different directions. The whole bombing of Darwin storyline should have been saved for sequel and not even have been in this movie.

Problems with the Movie

Some other problems with the movie was the lack of character development in the movie that when characters die I could care less since the director spent little time developing any emotional attachment between the characters and the audience. I found it interesting that with two heavy weight stars in the movie like Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, the most memorable character in the movie was the young Aboriginal boy Nullah played by Brandan Walters who has never starred in a movie before.

Brandon Walters also happened to be the same kid used in the new Australia tourism commercials that are trying to take advantage of publicity from the Australia movie.

Also the movie used way to much computer animations and the animations were quite poorly done. Australia has incredible landscapes but for whatever reason the director Baz Luhrmann spent more time showing computer animations then the real Outback. When Luhrmann got around to showing some sweeping vistas of the Outback they were stunning, why couldn’t the entire movie had been like that?

Also the history and geography in the movie was inaccurate. For example they are conducting a cattle drive south to north in the Northern Territory to Darwin yet they end up in the Bungle Bungles in Western Australia. Some examples of historical inaccuracies was that while traveling through the Outback Hugh Jackman’s character sees a large American Army contingent traveling towards Darwin. The US Army never deployed a force to Darwin and they sure the heck wouldn’t be traveling through the middle of the Outback on no roads to get there. The US Army Air Corps at the time deployed aircraft at runway strips around Darwin but never deployed a conventional Army force.

Plus the most glaring example of historical inaccuracy was the bombing of Darwin itself. In the movie the entire city of Darwin was destroyed by the bombing killing many civilians. The movie even had the Japanese bombing a children’s school on an island just off of Darwin and then followed that by having a Japanese force land on the island looking to kill survivors. The Japanese during the first bombing of Darwin in February 1942 did not destroy the entire town and they never even landed a force on Australian territory.

Something else I didn’t like was the dwelling on the political topic of the “Stolen Generations” which is the claim that the Australian government for racist reasons was stealing Aboriginal children. This is far from being a cut and dry issue and yet throughout the movie the stealing of Aboriginal children comes up all the way to the end credits. The movie in my opinion didn’t need to dwell into such politics especially for a movie wanting to promote Australia because the film makes Australians look like a bunch of racists which is not the case.

Plus I found the depiction of the Aborigines in the film to be very stereotypical and not accurate with Aboriginal characters in the movie casting magic spells and communicating by telepathy. If you want to watch a film that gives a much better depiction of Aboriginal life in the bush long ago, I recommend watching Ten Canoes because the Australia movie does not.

In fact I found the low budget film Ten Canoes that does not have any English because the actors speak only their native Aboriginal language more entertaining then the big budget Australia film. That should tell you something about how disappointing this big budget movie production was.

Conclusion

The Australia movie should have been a Lonesome Dove staged in the Outback with sweeping vistas of Australia. Instead Australia was turned into a movie weighed down with political statements, a convoluted plot, and clunky computer graphics. This movie could have been so much better if the characters were more memorable, the storyline focused on the cattle drive and not political statements, and if less computer graphics and more sweeping vistas of Australia were used. This would have made the movie more enjoyable and even opened up a possible sequel to the film focused on the bombing of Darwin.

Finally I would be surprised if this movie does anything to really increase Australian tourism like The Lord of the Rings trilogy did to increase tourism in New Zealand. This is because first of all the movie is no where near as good as The Lord of the Rings and the movie did not focus as much as it should on the Australian scenery . Secondly with the movie’s heavy focus on the Stolen Generations, who wants to visit a country of white racists?

So yes the movie has a lot of problems and was a let down. I would be surprised if it even tops the box office this weekend and once word of mouth about the movie spreads it probably won’t even remain in the Top 10 very long. This is unfortunate for a movie that should have been a box office hit and will instead probably be destined to be in the discount DVD bin at Wal-mart in the non too distant future.

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Preview of the July-September Australian Geographic

One of the magazines I really enjoy reading in Australia is the excellent Australian Geographic.  The magazine is published quarterly and really is a must read for people with a deep interesting in the land, people, and unique environment of Australia.

The magazine”s lead story this quarter concerns life on the flood plains in Australia’s Outback:

IT’S WONDROUS ENOUGH seeing water, kilometres of it in all directions, near the middle of Australia. But the spectacular explosion of life these rivers trigger when they flow is truly awe-inspiring. Biological limits out here are set by the length of the Dry, and the erratic rising and falling of rivers has unquestionably influenced inland Australia’s ecological rhythms for millennia. When the rivers are down, life is often forced to eke out a cryptic, waterless existence. But when the big flows come, plants and animals respond at a rapid pace and on a massive scale.


Birds suddenly appear en masse: hundreds of thousands of waterbirds – some species stopping briefly en route to distant shores, some out west for a feed and many others that aggregate in huge breeding colonies of 10,000 or more pairs. No-one is quite sure how the birds know when and where Australia’s inland river systems are flowing. One theory is they can sense the low-pressure systems associated with rainfall events that bring floods. Another is they visually navigate by the water flows as if they were riverine highways. [Australian Geographic]

There is also a great article in the issue about Mt. Warning in New South Wales that looks like quite a beautiful place judging by the below picture:

N THE COOL morning mist the forest has a luscious feel. Every fern and vine is glistening. Swathed in a frizzy moss and draped with hoary beards of lichen, the Antarctic beech possess an ageless air. It feels as if a hobbit could bob up at any moment from among the wild scrum of roots at our feet. “In the rainforest it’s all about the light,” John says. “These blokes have developed a coppicing strategy for holding their ground and grabbing a share of sunlight. See here: the original tree has gone, but new growth sprouts from the surrounding roots.” We peer into a ring of trunks forming a ragged circle almost 6 m in diameter.


John has been tracking the secrets of these forests for 35 years. Climate change, however, presents an altogether different quarry. “There’s a big experiment running and we haven’t a clue where it’s going,” he says. “It’s frightening in terms of potential extinctions and biodiversity.” Despite such fears, it’s possible the Antarctic beech might stick around. Having persisted through millions of years of ice ages, cyclones, droughts and fires, this species knows a thing or two about survival. “The beech are catastrophic regenerators,” John says. “In the right conditions, like after a huge knock-down storm, you can get a mass of new seedlings. Old stagers like this one might just sit here and bide their time. They operate on such a different time scale.”  [Australian Geographic]

This article about a scientific expedition into the Simpson Desert was especially interesting considering the amount of biodiversity the researchers were able to find in this remote desert:

VERY FEW scientific expeditions have ventured into the north-western region of the Simpson Desert – certainly none of this size and calibre. The first expedition of note was mounted in 1939 by scientist and central-desert aficionado Cecil Thomas Madigan, who 10 years earlier had named the Simpson Desert after Alfred Allen Simpson, president of the SA branch of the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia.


Madigan travelled with 19 camels and eight men, only two of whom were scientists. In contrast, we have 16 scientists, a dozen paying volunteers, a small but formidably efficient expedition crew led by AG Society administrator Sandy Richardson and 23 sturdy and well-equipped 4WDs. We’ve established base camp at Batton Hill, 320 km east of Alice Springs on the northern edge of the 17,643 sq. km Atnetye Aboriginal Land Trust. From here, we’ll travel to and from two satellite camps – one on the edge of Ngarra Ngarra Swamp, 100 km south along the Hay River, and the other at Mt Tietkens, 15 km to the south-east. If there’s a plant, animal, invertebrate or fungus within cooee of our three camps, we’re bound to find it – or at least traces of it.


There’s something very satisfying about the knowledge that in this little-known corner of the Simpson, almost every scientist’s project is the first of its kind. As bat zoologist David Gee says: “In a sense, anything we find here is a bonus.”  [Australian Geographic]

There is plenty more to read in the magazine such as the effects of bushfires on Australian communities, the harvesting of food in various areas in Australia, and even a little arachnophobia along with a host of other great articles worth checking out.

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The Sequel to Australia Announced

Who would have imagined that they would make a sequel to the new Australia movie so quickly:

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Additional Australia Movie Trailer Released

Here is another trailer from the new Australia movie that has only increased my interest to watch what looks like is going to be a great movie:

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