Movie Review for Valkyrie (2008)

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Review #713 of 365
Movie Review of Valkyrie (2008) [PG-13] 120 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $14.25
Where Viewed: UA Denver Pavilions, Denver, CO
When Seen: 17 December 2008 @ 7:30 pm
DVD Release Date: Unscheduled (please check back)
After the Credits: nothing
Unsung Member of the Crew: Hair and Make-Up – Sarah Monzani

Soundtrack: order the CD below

Directed by: Bryan Singer (Superman Returns)
Written by: Christopher McQuarrie (The Way of the Gun) • Nathan Alexander (debut)

Featured Cast (Where You Might Remember Him/Her From):
Tom Cruise (Tropic Thunder) • Kenneth Branagh (Sleuth) • Bill Nighy (Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End) • Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton) • Carice van Houten (Zwartboek) • Thomas Kretschmann (Wanted) • Terence Stamp (Get Smart) • Eddie Izzard (Igor) • Kevin McNally (Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End) • Christian Berkel (Miracle at St. Anna) • Andy Gatjen (Beyond the Sea ) • Jamie Parker (The History Boys) • David Bamber ("Rome") • Tom Hollander (Elizabeth: The Golden Age)

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Based on the announcements of the Golden Globe and other film awards, the decision to delay the release of Valkyrie did not help its ability to win nominations. In any other year, it might have been a strong Best Picture candidate, but if the past two years have proven anything, war movies, even wars that occurred a half century or more ago. In times of war, apparently, people don't like war movies. Valkyrie, however, may do a bit better at the box office than others because of the star power of Tom Cruise. Tom Cruise playing a German Colonel in the Nazi Resistance might seem like a bit of a train-wreck idea when it comes to casting decisions. But, his passion for the role comes through with flying colors. Tom Cruise is at his very best when he is either lampooning, as in Tropic Thunder, or playing the daring hero, in Valkyrie--directed by Bryan Singer. Before going too much further, let's get the pronunciation thing out of the way. It's pronounced val•kree. Don't let that little 'y' in the middle throw you. In this case, it's the name given to the operation of Hitler's regime that would be engaged in the matter of an attempted coup. It would mobilize a gigantic reserve army to re-establish order. Utilizing it was the idea of Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg (Cruise) who realized that the only way a coup could be successful would be if there were a military operation to take the place in the vacuum of leadership left by the demise of Hitler. Stauffenberg, a war hero despite his open disregard for the Führer and Reichskanzler, was called upon by General Friedrich Olbricht (Bill Nighy) to fill the void left by an officer reassigned after a failed attempt at an assassination of Hitler by the resistance—a large group of military and businessmen who opposed the Nazi party and worked behind the scenes to topple Hitler. Their mantra was to prove to the world that not all Germans supported Hitler, but they were controlled entirely, as was the entire nation, by the grip of mortal fear. Hitler's SS proved willing to do just about anything, commit any atrocity, kill anyone, to preserver the power of Hitler's government—a regime that had assembled death camps across the region to process and exterminate any and all 'undesirables'. Therefore, the imagination might run wild in what it might do to actually traitors and their families. The story of von Stauffenberg's plan to topple Hitler is as tension filled and dramatic a thriller as any in recent memory with one slight exception. The outcome of the action is known apriori therefore decreasing the eventual dramatic climax despite the excellent rising tension. Of course, if one doesn't know the actual history, it makes for a better and more surprising ending.

While the acting and the directing are superb in a film that really is of the highest caliber, it will not be appreciated by a populace in the USA that has been unwilling to face the atrocities carried out on their behalf during the past 8 years. To acknowledge that the 'good' guys in Germany in 1944 were those fighting to end Hitler's reign of terror would be to acknowledge that, in the most free and democratic nation on earth, we re-elected a person who plundered our nation's wealth, mired us in two wars under the auspice of a war on terror, established illegal prisons, violated time-honored Geneva Convention conventions, and embroiled our once proud nation in new world order based on the horribly unjust pretext of preventive war. The latter of which means that you no longer have to wait for your enemy to attack you, you can look into your crystal ball and decide to attack because you believe that someday in the future he will attack you. It would be with great shame that too many USAers would watch Valkyrie and realize they didn't even have to orchestrate a Coup d'état, they simply had to fill in a different oval on a ballot. It's a shame really, because Valkyrie and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas really are two of the better films of the year, but they won't get the audience appreciation they richly deserve.

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Other Projects Featuring Valkyrie (2008)
Cast Members
Tom CruiseKenneth BranaghBill Nighy
Tom WilkinsonCarice van HoutenThomas Kretschmann
Terence StampEddie IzzardKevin McNally
Christian BerkelTom HollanderJamie Parker
Bryan Singer
Christopher McQuarrieNathan Alexander

Review-lite Valkyrie (2008) [max of 150 words]
Tom Cruise stars as Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, a member of the military resistance that staged assassination attempts on Adolph Hitler during WWII to prove that not all Germans were like him. Directed by Bryan Singer, the film is one of the best of the year, but won't get acclaim due to Cruise's personal life and the inability of USAers to reconcile their own guilt in doing nothing to stop the tyranny of their own past 8 years of history.

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