‘The Emu War’: bizarre, gratuitous, disjointed

‘The Emu War’: bizarre, gratuitous, disjointed
Image: THE EMU WAR film still.

The Great Emu War was a true event, and it’s a fantastic story. In 1932, a massive infestation of emus terrorised farmers along the wheatbelt in Western Australian, requiring military level intervention to help resolve the problem. 

The birds, who annually migrate from inland to the coast each year, took a detour through newly created wheat fields and farms, happy for an easy, abundant feed, and decimating everything in their path. 

With tens of thousands of emus forming rampaging herds, local farmers were rendered helpless. However, a group of ex-soldiers who had served in World War I and were familiar with heavy artillery formed a posse and approached the Minister of Defence about getting some Lewis guns (machine guns), which they were granted. 

THE EMU WAR film still.

The group deployed several times but only managed to cull a handful of emus in each case. The big Aussie birds proved much more clever and organised than the soldiers gave them credit for. 

Eventually, the emus were controlled using a combination of military weapons and vermin-proof fencing. 

Now, had the 2023 Australian film, The Emu War, been much more closely based on the true story, it might actually have had a plot and made a bit of sense. Instead, the film is a bizarre, rambling mess of shallow characters, gratuitous gore, crass  humour, disjointed ideas and no real resolution. 

There are some familiar names among the credits (Damien Callinan, Aaron Gocs, Lisa Fineberg, Luke McGregor), and the performances aren’t bad, but the script is awful. Any potentially funny lines are handled so unsubtly, they may as well have a laughing emoji on the screen. Other jokes are just…wtf were they thinking?

There are a handful of people who will enjoy the grotesque wackiness of The Emu War, everyone else should just run for the hills. 

In cinemas nationally June 21 – 23, then video on demand from July 8. 

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