INCLUDE_DATA

VALKYRIE (2008) *** movie review by COOP

Posted on December 31st, 2008
Posted on December 31st, 2008


In every scene in this film Tom Cruise’s character wears a uniform with a swastika on the lapel. One might think he’s taking a risky career move with his role in “Valkyrie.” In fact, he’s not. Here he plays a character so morally incorruptible and so zealously anti-Nazi, you can’t mistake him for one of the bad guys, not even while wearing the Nazi symbol of hate. This is quite the opposite of his (Golden Globe Nominated???) performance earlier this year in “Tropic Thunder” as a reprehensibly offensive Jewish stereotype. Somebody needs to enlighten Cruise on the concept of taking “risky-yet-brave” roles because he definitely doesn’t get it.

Cruise plays Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, an outspoken critic of the Nazi regime(,) whom his superiors banish to the Tunisian front because of his self-righteous beliefs. After losing an eye and a hand in an air raid, Stauffenberg returns to Berlin and joins a cabal of disgruntled military leaders who plan to assassinate Adolf Hitler and stage a coup to overthrow the Nazis. In order to accomplish this, they must take control of the “Valkyrie,” Hitler’s military unit that secures Berlin in the event of an uprising. This unit is critical to the capture and arrest of Hitler’s top men while the cabal seizes power. Before this daring act of defiance can begin, Stauffenberg must personally assassinate Hitler.

The advertisers all but admitted they didn’t know how to market this movie, given it doesn’t fit any of the major audience demographics. It doesn’t have the action to satisfy the younger male group nor the romance to attract female interest. The appeal of a WWII German political thriller is so narrow that Hollywood is already expecting “Valkyrie” to bomb miserably. Makes you wonder why Cruise didn’t think of this before his production company greenlighted the $100 million dollar project.

Cruise, surrounded by much more respected English and German actors, is 100% distracting in the lead role. Nobody will buy him as a WWII German Colonel, especially overseas. I can already imagine translators re-titling this film “Tom Cruise vs. Hitler!” in Thailand and The Philippines. His one-dimensional character never cracks a smile, never doubts his beliefs and constantly cuts-down anyone who disagrees with him, usually his superiors. I would’ve rather seen this character start off with more ambitious ideals, then develop a more cynical attitude after losing a couple of body parts. His character doesn’t grow or change. He remains a holier-than-thou malcontent the entire film and I found him largely unlikable.

The rest of the cast performs brilliantly, especially the supporting British actors, including: Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Kenneth Branagh, Terrence Stamp and Eddie Izzard. Nighy (“Love Actually”) gives the most interesting performance as the nervous General Olbricht who manages a few moments of courage even though it’s obvious he wished he’d never joined the anti-Nazi resistance. Kudos also to Wilkinson (“Batman Begins”) who’s made a niche for himself lately playing scary, unstable authority figures. The German cast unfortunately gets sidelined into third-tier supporting roles, but reliable character actors like Thomas Kretschmann (“Wanted”) and Carice van Houten (“Black Book”) get a few shining moments of screentime.

Hitler appears in the film, and I wish he hadn’t. Every time he enters, the music changes to a “horror movie theme” and he skulks about like Nosferatu looking for a fresh neck to bite. Perhaps I exaggerated a little on that last remark, but Director Brian Singer (“The Usual Suspects,” “X-Men”) would’ve served the film better to leave him completely out of the picture. Hitler’s Darth Vader meets Hannibal Lecter-like presence distracts almost as much as Tom Cruise wearing an eye patch and swastika.

I also found the pacing within the scenes distracting. Cruise’s Stauffenberg dominates each conversation to a point where he leaves other characters stammering and blustery. There are too many awkward pauses as if the actors aren’t comfortable speaking their lines. This caused a lack of flow to the scenes that can take the audience out of the film (it made me check my watch a few times).

Unless your history is as rusty as a Panzer tank, you know how the film ends. The real-life resolution makes this story a little more than a historical footnote considering the more sensational happenings of that time period. I would’ve preferred seeing a documentary or possibly even an artsy German film about this event. I didn’t find “Valkyrie” interesting enough to warrant a mega-budget production with an A-list American in the lead. Despite my problems with the film, the story deserves telling. I appreciated the spectacular production design, the better than average cinematography and the perfect supporting performances. I think it would make a decent rental, but those not interested in the inner-workings of Germany in WWII might find it dull.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Trailer below…

No Comments •

Comments

Search
Search Form
Trailer for the award-winning short PRISMA…


A corporate promotional VHS tape from 1984 conceals a brain-altering signal which is said to grant increased health, longevity and psychic powers to those who watch it. View at your own risk...

WINNER: SPECIAL JURY PRIZE, 2017 Oxford Film Festival

WINNER: BEST EXPERIMENTAL FILM, 2017 FantaSci Short Film Festival

SEMI-FINALIST: 2017 NanoCon International Science-Fiction Film Festival

NOMINEE: BEST ANIMATION, 2017 End of Days Film Festival

NOMINEE: BEST GRAPHICS, 2017 FantaSci Short Film Festival

OFFICIAL SELECTION:
2017 Nightmares Film Festival
2017 A Night of Horror Film Festival
2017 H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival
2017 Oxford Film Festival
2017 Crossroads Film Festival
2017 Clarksdale Film Festival
2017 Twisted Dreams Film Festival
2017 Tupelo Film Festival
2017 NanoCon International Sci-Fi Film Festival
2017 FantaSci Short Film Festival
2017 End of Days Film Festival
2017 Grenada Afterglow Film Festival
2017 Shiver International Film Festival

Trailer for the lost short GOD MAKER…


Northern Mississippi 1932:
In a cabin in the woods, a blind blues guitarist will discover his destiny from a lovesick goddess who seeks to corrupt his soul.

GOD MAKER remains unfinished and in limbo for now, but the trailer expresses the mood and imagery intended for the project...

Coop’s award-winning 48 hour short film trailer for REGRESS…


Told in reverse, this experimental made-in-48-hours film begins with a shocking murder then backtracks (like a viewer rewinding a VHS tape) to reveal the chilling origins of this tragedy.

WINNER: BEST SHORT FILM at the 2013 Clarksdale Film Festival...
NOMINATED: BEST DIRECTING by the 2012 48hr. Guerrilla Film Challenge (international contest)...
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2013 Crossroads Film Festival

Watch Coop’s award-winning short film THE BEST DAY…


WINNER: 2012 MAGNOLIA FILM FESTIVAL "Best Homegrown Film"
WINNER: 2012 SEATTLE TRUE INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL "Best Scream"

OFFICIAL SELECTION:
2012 OXFORD FILM FESTIVAL
2012 CLARKSDALE FILM FESTIVAL
2012 CROSSROADS FILM FESTIVAL
2012 NORTHEAST MISSISSIPPI FILM FESTIVAL
2012 ATLANTA INDIE HORROR FILM FESTIVAL
2012 OTHERFEST
2012 MISSISSIPPI INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
2012 SUN AND SAND FILM FESTIVAL

Morgan Freeman asks Coop a question at THE BEST DAY premiere! Video below…


My short film THE BEST DAY premiered in October 2011 at the Delta Cinema in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

Little did I know I had a special guest in the audience who was about to ask me a question during the Q&A. Yep, I got a little flustered when I saw who it was.

The Small Town Critic’s SCREENWRITING SERVICES
Follow Coop on Twitter...
    follow me on twitter
    Follow smalltowncritic on Twitter
    Archives
    Subscribe via Email!

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

    Subscribe via RSS feed!