In the world of movies Australia’s role in the World Wars hasn’t really been covered much, with the exception of a few films like Gallipoli. Well finally the Australian film industry has produced a new movie that shows that not only can our soldiers fight as good as the rest of the world, so can our film makers produce war films.
When Australians look back at the great battles in our history the two most prominent are the battle of Gallipoli, and the Kokoda Trail. The film Gallipoli was praised by many viewers and critics but is really Australia’s only voyage into the epic war movie, until now.
Kokoda is based on a true story and the battle of Isurava, along the Kokoda track (Also referred to as the Kokoda trail) on the 26th of August 1942 in Papua New Guinea.
The movie Kokoda focuses on the 39th Australian Militia Battalion, a group of untrained, barely supplied and reportedly poorly commanded voluntaire soldiers who were originally sent to the Kokoda track to set up camps and roads/tracks for the AIF, Australia’s primary army. Due to the fact that they had no military training the Militia were commonly called the Chocolate Battalion or Chocos because they were sure to melt in the heat of battle.
On the 26th of August 1942 four hundred young soldiers of the 39th Australian Militia Battalion were all that stood between Japanese General Tomitaro Horii and Japan’s primary strategic target in the South Pacific, Port Moresby. The main sections of the 39th Battalion were to hold Isurava and prevent the Japanese forces from entering the Kokoda track, and that’s exactly what they did. Out numbered ten to one with barely any supplies they held Isurava for one month before they were relieved by the AIF.
Kokoda follows a small platoon from the 39th as they are sent forward to patrol and are cut off from the main Battalion and behind enemy lines. They fought through the tough terrain to rejoin the rest of the Australian forces in the battle of Isurava even though they had just gone three days without food or sleep, were wounded and diseased.
Kokoda portrays a vivid picture of what the soldiers had to endure, sets and field locations are amazing and mixed with the impressive camera work and pyrotechnic effects it’s a very realistic look at the battles.
Unfortunately the intense battles are the high points of the film, if only for the fact that the emotional and sometimes amusing interactions of the characters are seemingly cut short. The film lacks at the start due to the character introductions and scenes cut short, as it jumps straight into the main plot of these men being cut off. This means that though the viewer feels for the characters I believe this should have been focused on much more, and would have given even more emotion to the film and made it that much more engaging.
The acting in the film is quite good with exceptional performances by Jack Finsterer, Travis McMahon and Angus Sampson.
Kokoda is primarily an Australian film, made by Australians for Australians, but it is also made for an international audience and I do believe it is good enough to be somewhat liked by them. The only problems non-Australians might have with the movie is understanding half the things the characters are saying, I’m an Aussie and I could only understand 90% of the conversations.
Overall I think this is a good film and it shows that the Australian film industry can do epic films if they try, this film it’s self isn’t one of those epic films but it is a stepping stone.
I give the film 3.5 out of 5, a good film just short of great.