Combustible Celluloid
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With: Heath Ledger, Orlando Bloom, Naomi Watts, Geoffrey Rush, Joel Edgerton, Laurence Kinlan, Philip Barantini, Kerry Condon, Kris McQuade
Written by: John Michael McDonagh, based on the novel by Robert Drewe
Directed by: Gregor Jordan
MPAA Rating: R for violence and brief nudity
Running Time: 110
Date: 03/22/2003

Ned Kelly (2004)

1 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Outlaw Blues

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

I haven't seen Tony Richardson's 1970 original, starring Mick Jagger in the title role, but I have yet to find any really positive opinions of it. Gregor Jordan's remake doesn't fare much better. It's hard to imagine a bigger drop in screen charisma than the one from Jagger to the new Ned, Heath Ledger. The real Ned was a poor Australian farmer who stood up to The Man and became a beloved outlaw. But Ledger plays him with such leaden seriousness, you'd think he was a priest. Jordan, who recently helmed the enjoyable satire Buffalo Soldiers responds in kind with a steely, distant direction intended to emphasize the historical importance of it all. It just couldn't get any duller. Even Geoffrey Rush can't bring any life to his villainous Superintendent Hare. And Naomi Watts is wasted in the "girlfriend" role, but Rachel Griffiths brings things to life for a few fleeting scenes. Orlando Bloom co-stars.

DVD Details: The new DVD comes with a featurette on Ned Kelly in popular culture, a "real Ned Kelly gang" photo montage, an "artist to feature" comparison, trailers, poster art and more. None of it made me want to sit through the film again, though.

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