"I've never shot a man, but if I do, so help me God,
you'll be the first!" - Ned Kelly (Heath Ledger)
Poor Ned by Redgum
This will be the last of the Kelly movies that I'm covering. It was generally well received and reviewed. It's main interest for us is the notable cast of Heath Ledger. Orlando Bloom, Geoffrey Rush and Naomi Watts.
Internet Movie Database IMDB gives it a 6.5 out of 10. Rotten Tomatoes, 56%. I think it warrants a 7. I believe time will be more generous to this movie. Not a bad movie at all.
A movie which clearly favours the image of Kelly as the hero - not the villain.
I have a general theory about movies where the Hero dies at the end - that this usually hurts the popularity of the movie - often in a large way. Tom Horn, for instance, I believe would have been a much more popular (maybe even a Classic) Western had Steve McQueen hadn't been hung at the end - even though this was true to fact. In Westerns, it seems people want their Heroes to ride off into the sunset ... not hang from a tree. But due to the political and social ramifications of Ned Kelly - which are actually magnified by his execution - plus the fact that it is a much better known story - Ned Kelly seems to smash my theory all to bits. It's a different animal.
Ledger and Bloom are both competent actors and have no trouble doing the heavy lifting to carry the movie. Ledger fails in physically looking like Kelly (IMO), but is strong otherwise. Geoffrey Rush is our villian which seems similar to his role he later played in Les Miserables (2012) as the tenacious Inspector Thenardier. Rush is special actor and does his usual excellent work.
Naomi Watts inclusion is the film is dubious - and questionable as an historic event - it seems merely to be included to create a romantic interest. I can understand the intent, but ...
On another tack, I feel the movie suffers for the same reason most of the Kelly movies suffer - in not being able to tell Kelly's story as fully as it should be in just 110 min - where some interesting parts of Kelly's story are purely glossed right over - such as the making of his famous armour. (But perhaps little is known about that??) But waiting for the perfect Kelly movie is likely something that will never happen.