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Overall Rating
3.59

Awesome43.59%
Worth A Look: 14.1%
Average: 14.1%
Pretty Bad: 14.1%
Total Crap: 14.1%

5 reviews, 48 user ratings


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Ned Kelly (2004)
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by David Cornelius

"A solid Aussie Western, if by 'solid Aussie Western' you mean 'total bore.'"
1 stars

If you’re making a movie, it’s often good to a) make it interesting and b) make it visible. “Ned Kelly” suggests that not only do you not need anything of interest to watch, but you don’t even need to see it at all. Just because film is a visual medium doesn’t mean we should be able to see anything, right?

Good gravy, what this movie needs is a capable lighting crew. The film spends a good ninety percent of its running time bathed in shadows and night so glum that it leaves the story mostly incomprehensible. This is not an artistic tactic borrowed from movies like “Wait Until Dark,” either; in “Ned Kelly,” these are scenes we’re meant to see but can’t due to bad camera and lighting choices. At one point, one character tells another to extinguish the only light in the room, sending the picture from mostly unwatchable to completely unwatchable.

Anyway. The movie’s big problem isn’t the visibility thing but the interest thing. In a word, this movie is ass-dull. A reworking of the legend of Australia’s most famous rebel outlaw, the film (adapted by first time screenwriter John M. McDonagh from Robert Drewe’s book “Our Sunshine” and directed by Gregor Jordan of “Buffalo Soldiers” fame) is a colossal bore, seeming barely engaged in its own story. The movie plods from scene to scene with a feeling of “well, here’s the next point in Ned’s life, and I guess we’ll show it.”

Not helping much is a dour turn by a miscast Heath Ledger in the title role. Ledger, complete with miserable Irish accent, gives us a brooding Kelly whose motives are too cloudy to bother revealing, apparently. Ledger’s going for quiet, pensive anger but comes out too blank, too bland. The character demands someone capable of greater depths; the performance we get here is nothing more than what we’d get from a “Young Guns” remake. He’s taken a national icon and removed a century’s worth of intrigue.

The script adds to the cloudiness, throwing us characters that have too little to do, like Rachel Griffith’s pointless extended cameo as a seduced wife or Orlando “Calrissian” Bloom’s role as the guy who stands next to Ned Kelly to, um... I dunno, stand there and look pretty, I guess. Even the main romance, between Kelly and Julia Cook (Naomi Watts), is rushed through without much feeling. And what of Hare (Geoffrey Rush), the cop hot on Kelly’s trail? This should have been a fascinating character; instead, it’s one that feels plunked in out of obligation to history.

Oh, and the final scene that features Kelly’s famous stand-off with an army of policemen? I realize that the whole Kelly-puts-a-bucket-on-his-head-as-a-helmet thing is historically accurate and a key part of the Kelly legend, but dude, it’s such a goofy sight that it completely ruins any somber effect the film was hoping to achieve. (With apologies to the good people of Australia, who admire Buckethead greatly.)

The best I can say about this film is that of all the stories told about Australia’s rogue hero, “Ned Kelly” is one of them. It is not watchable or enjoyable or even educational, but it exists, proving the enduring nature of Kelly as an icon - and of moviemakers as people who always miscast their movies in the hopes that a hot young star will win a few extra millions at the box office.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=7271&reviewer=392
originally posted: 02/26/05 08:04:03
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For more in the Australian series, click here.

User Comments

8/20/08 Geebus Eh. It was kinda mediocre. The story moved too fast and the script was pretty dodgy. 2 stars
8/12/07 Hello Stranger i saw nothing wrong with it. only ledger could pull this off. 4 stars
5/27/06 Poof weighs about 100kg 3 stars
5/18/06 chienne It's embarrassing, SO historically inaccurate, REALLY bad. Ugh! 1 stars
4/08/06 p you do realise that your compleately anti-irish you know 4 stars
6/16/05 Renee Casey This film was awesome, i really like Heath Ledger and Orlando Bloom in this type of setting 5 stars
3/17/05 Landshark Folk-hero leaves moribund legacy, it is left unclear why we should remember the buckethead? 2 stars
1/05/05 Steve Newman What a great film. Different ending to any I had seen or read before. Was it true? 5 stars
11/04/04 andrew great movie go and watch it 5 stars
9/07/04 Nina Kelly its amazing! go see it! you have no clue what you're missing if you dont! 5 stars
8/12/04 danny theyre irish convicts not immigrants did the critic even watch this movie? 5 stars
8/04/04 ownerofdajoint THIS MOVIE IS SO GREAT.A REAL LIFE PORTRAYAL OF WHAT THE ENGLISH GOT AWAY WITH!!!! 5 stars
7/28/04 Brit and Erin Orlando and Heith are great actors and the movie was amazing and a wonderful tear-jerker. 5 stars
6/14/04 Daniel Pearson good acting, nice cinematography, really bad script 3 stars
3/31/04 martin smith really good 5 stars
3/14/04 rory TRUE MASTERPIECE 5 stars
2/14/04 fi it was so great it was really sad but great just the same 5 stars
1/23/04 Chloe Brody They should have made this 1 1/2 hours longer - it would have been so much better!!! 4 stars
11/24/03 Nicole Not worth watching 1 stars
9/30/03 Troy Butler Although a well made movie, ... just a bit too hard to take in all of the added "fiction"! 3 stars
9/27/03 Chlo I loved this, the 4 main actors were brilliant - fantastic casting (Orlando is a hottie!) 5 stars
9/16/03 Trevor Gensch Shame they had to make so much up - the real story is a lot better 3 stars
8/22/03 kate i thought it was amazing 5 stars
7/29/03 Leilana Mackay I think it was one of my favourite movies. GO HEATH AND ORLANDO!! 5 stars
7/17/03 agent smith it sucked serious balls 1 stars
7/01/03 Larry OH GOD!! 1 stars
6/06/03 tazza shitty 1 stars
4/23/03 Jane Erickson a very unnerving movie, brought me to tears by the end, although more fiction than fact 4 stars
4/23/03 Melissa McGregor Pretty good, fine cast, well shot, completely bloody inaccurate though- shame. :) 4 stars
4/19/03 Orlando kix ass It surley on of the best I've seen in a while. but it still doesn't compare to lotr 5 stars
4/15/03 OrLaNdO_fOr_PrEsIdEnT AMAZING!Made me cry,laugh and evrything orlando and heath were exellent!Most of it true! 5 stars
4/13/03 Amy Caldwell Made me cry BUT I LOVED IT 5 stars
4/08/03 Josh McTaggart Awesome 5 stars
4/06/03 alien assassin Overblown rendition of Australia's most famous folk legend. Heath Ledger was good though. 3 stars
4/05/03 Rebecca Lawson I think the Ned Kelly movie is 1 of the best life storys ever but why would there be a love 5 stars
4/03/03 Shon Over-hyped, doesn't deliver. 2 stars
4/03/03 Nette did someone even tell John M. McDonagh Ned dies in the end? 4 stars
4/02/03 nessajoy Disappointing, average. The gang got as much sympathy from me as a Sydney surburban gang. 4 stars
4/01/03 John Bale Not yet the definative Kelly film, but very entertaining. Ledger impresses. 4 stars
4/01/03 Geoff A great period film. Agree with Bitchslap review. Heath is great. 4 stars
3/31/03 thomas whiteside It was totally unacurate, but an ok movie if you were just looking for a fictional drama! 2 stars
3/31/03 Nienna Anwamanë I thought it was a pretty good film! Unless you actually lived then, no probs! 5 stars
3/31/03 david james Had the mythology gone further more character depth 2 stars
3/31/03 Nikki After seeing the transformation from Legolas to Joe, I'm a hooked Orlando Bloom fan! 5 stars
3/30/03 punnani incredible, it made me cry ... and i never cry at the movies ... 4 stars
3/29/03 Lottie Bloom it is the best movie who says fictional it is a true story hun except 4 naomis character 5 stars
3/28/03 Felicity Campbell The movie ROCKED! Are you people blind? 5 stars
3/26/03 david james fictional but compelling 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  26-Mar-2004 (R)
  DVD: 27-Jul-2004

UK
  N/A

Australia
  27-Mar-2003




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