Ever since the 1956 black and white film EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS to the recent INDEPENDENCE DAY remake, the image of outer space denizens as saucer dwelling, civilization wrecking invaders has permeated and become an indelible assumption in the mind of most sci-fi aficionados whenever we experience a film about visitors from another world. The film AUSTRALIENS is no exception, filmed in AUSTRALIA it details in slapstick, classic detail the struggle of a band (an actual musical group) of young hipsters who must save civilization, from certain annihilation from a green, warlike alien race. In the battle between the creatures from light years beyond and the plucky young Aussies from down under, this wacky farce is sure to be a battle of comic, if not cosmic proportions....at least in theory.
The film begins in flashback, as young Girl named Andi makes fleeting contact with an alien spacecraft in her backyard by offering it a helium balloon. Fast forward some time until modern day and Andi (Depicted on cover)is the stunning lead singer of an Australian rock band featuring her hypochondriac brother named Elliot, her brutish, mischievous cousin named Keith and the band's media promotions specialist (photo nut) named Cam. Not long after a very unsuccessful concert where (as usual) very people attend except for their direct friends and family, Australia is mysteriously attacked by an armada of flying saucers. Our intrepid group pile into a small car and head out immediately for Andi's parent's house where it is generally understood they will be relatively safe from the invasion.
Along the way it is discovered that Andi may have the power to communicate with the Aliens and perhaps more importantly (for the sake of humanity), the ability to stop their invasion purely by thinking about it. This is all you need to know to appreciate this film on its own merits.
First let me say that the special effects for this film are absolutely incredible for a B movie, especially when compared to the visual dreck that is usually sent to me. All scenes of action and (or) combat are on par with anything seen on the Sci-fi Channel and in many cases they are actually surpassed. Before we start praising this film too highly for any semblance of "realism" it must be said that from start to finish this film displays an absurdity that should never be taken at face value. Despite the alien invasion motif which even Stephen Hawking himself refers to as "a plausible scenario", one should not ever pick up this movie expecting anything but a comedy, because the laws of the universe (and basic non-cartoon logic) have been suspended for the sake of jokes at every possible juncture. Some of the more goofy moments include the scene where a team member is replaced by an obvious green skinned Martian doppelganger, though, of course, no one seems to notice.
Additionally, one of the human characters seems to have a natural resilience to being shot to death, a trick that forever dooms the film to a certain level of comedic shtick in some of the more serious moments. Finally, there is no love story whatsoever within the duration of this, which is kind of a waste, because Andi (Rita Artman) was too interesting a character to exist without harnessing her irreverent, tomboyish albeit sensual nature on screen.
Despite the films I usually review, I am not saying a sex scene would have reflected a better review from me, but it would have been nice to see her express some depth of femininity along with her ability to kick some alien ass. Additionally, the final act had some bizarre extended family angles that did much to explain some of the more madcap character interactions, but ultimately changed the film's tone about three times in the final 15 minutes before finally settling on an outcome that somehow was agreeable to both Australians and the Aliens. Because of its omnipresent attitude where fun was always the focus over Sci-fi sensibility I would like to say that it reminded me a lot of the original GHOSTBUSTERS and folks wanting to indulge in some madcap, Martian sensibility that they could enjoy ahead of their teen children (or teenagers could enjoy ahead of their parents) could find plenty of harmless, interstellar idiocy to lose themselves in over the span of an evening here. It really is a cute little film.
AUSTRALIENS won a ton of awards both in its native country and among USA cult audiences, but perhaps for the first time, I liked a B movie in spite of how most others praised it. I myself found it to be a fun little film about interstellar species secretly living amongst us, but nothing worth "phoning home" about. Extras include Cast and crew commentary, Bloopers and a photo gallery