Australia starts out every bit as magical and powerful and lovely as any movie epic should be -- more so, even, since it's directed by that master of capturing magic on film, Baz Luhrmann (who already has breathed fresh life into Shakespeare and musicals). And for about half of its 2-hour-and-45-minute run time (!), it maintains that magic. But then it sort of falls flat. It rebounds some, with some lovely moments, breathtaking scenery, and terrific acting. But it can't ever regain what was lost in that first half.