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First, I want to say that some time ago I learned to distrust critics
and instead read the reviews here on IMDb. I've never been misled, even
when an equal number of viewers liked and disliked the same movie
because that let me know there was a matter of taste in play, and
that's fine. Sometimes a movie pleases everyone, but that's so rare I
cant really think of one. People have different tastes and that's good.
But the value of IMDb reviews is that they are based on a genuine
response to the movie - not a bias, or some other agenda.
For example, the Fox critic Roger Friedman listed this movie as one of the worst of 2008 - without having seen the movie. That's right. He rated it without seeing it. It was a classic and reprehensible case of bias and perhaps even bigotry since he was engaging in Tom Cruise bashing which is usually practiced in conjunction with dissing Tom's religion.
So I don't trust critics to tell the truth or give an unbiased review.
I saw Valkyrie and enjoyed it immensely. I've studied the Hitler period and was familiar with most of the events but the movie educated me while it thrilled and entertained me. It is a movie I was happy to take my teen-aged children to see because it also educated and entertained them. I thought the cast did a great job. The script was outstanding and the direction excellent. Tom Cruise gave a dimension to Von Stauffenberg that deepened my understanding of the events. The supporting cast were brilliant.
I highly recommend it.
PS. It's some time since I wrote this review and I took thirty minutes tonight to read the other reviews on this movie, not surprisingly they are mostly very positive and unanimous in praising it. Interestingly, the critics, including the one named above, who trashed the movie without even seeing it, obviously did so in an effort to kill it at the box office. While many other reviewers noted this too, I'd like to point out that those critics and possibly some of the people who 'dont like Tom Cruise because of his weird religion' are actually following the same path that made it possible for Hitler to kill off millions of Jews who also had a 'weird religion'. Considering the historical background of Valkyrie I find that quite ironical.
Ignore the silly comments of some critics who want this movie to fail. Schickel, Ebert and the L.A. Times got it right. If you're a World War II history buff like me, you'll appreciate the fine effort that is Valkyrie. It shows that American filmmakers as unlikely as Tom Cruise and Bryan Singer can compete with the likes of the Downfall creators in handling such subject matter. Like World War II itself, the full story of the July 20 plot is long and intricate and cannot be fully told in the confines of a two hour feature film. There are certainly many peripherals to the story - its tentacles ran deep into the Nazi diaspora; thousands were executed or "disappeared" (including Irwin Rommel who was not portrayed in the film) - to say nothing of the mixed motives in those Germans wishing to see Hitler dead. These are all subjects that have already been explored and no doubt will be again in the future. Suffice to say, Singer and editor/composer John Ottman focused on the heart of this story: Hitler was destroying Germany/Europe and the July 20 plotters bucked the odds to stop him. The performances from this exceptional cast are first rate. Think what you want about Tom Cruise and Scientology - I'm no big fan of either - but judge the work on its merits. Cruise may not win an Oscar for his portrayal of von Stauffenberg, but he more than gets the job done. In terms of scope, the locations, battle scenes, costumes/uniforms, staging/settings, you can't ask for more in a WWII movie. There's nothing fake, nothing phony to spoil the period experience and vfx are seamless as they should be. If you're expecting a formula Hollywood thriller a la Bourne or M.I., you may be disappointed, but as a serious adult drama Valkyrie delivers the goods. It took some balls to make this movie and UA has earned its kudos.
"Valkyrie" takes on an important event in the history of Nazi Germany:
the failed assassination attempt of German officers of the Wehrmacht
against Hitler in 1944. Most Germans like myself are quite familiar
with the story of the "Stauffenberg-Attentat" since it was not only the
topic of many German docudramas (e.g. one made by well-known director
Pabst in 1955) but is also widely discussed in history class in school.
I was pleasantly surprised about the "American" interpretation in Valkyrie and think that Singer and Cruise came up with an excellent film. Although the outcome is known and the movie develops rather slowly in the beginning, it manages to create a highly suspenseful and darkish-intense atmosphere that keeps you captivated until the end. Complains regarding the American/English accents and the German actors not speaking with German accents, or criticizing that Stauffenberg was "in reality" more charming and not as stiff as Cruise' interpretation, are niggling and banal at best. The movie does not focus on the private, psychological side of Stauffenberg but on his leading role in the assassination plot planned and executed amidst the "heart of darkness", which -we can be sure- was more than nerve-wracking and left certainly little space for charm and jokes. BTW: I was glad to see Nina von Stauffenberg portrayed as the knowing and smart wife that she actually was. The performance of all actors is superb, and Cruise certainly deserves special praise since his commitment to the role is tangible and remarkably intense.
One of the best movies I've seen in years. In the world where special effects and cheesy plots make 99% of all films, "Valkyrie" delivers psychological thriller with a lesson in history. I saw this movie with my 9 year old son who is a big Military Fan. In the eyes of a 9 year old boy - the World consists of "Good Guys" and "Bad Guys". I hope that this movie will allow him to recognize that the World is little more complex than "Black & White" or "Good & Bad". This movie is the first film I have ever seen that presents German People as human beings trapped in the wheels of a spinning war machine, and not merely monsters responsible for all WWII atrocities. The movie illustrates political ties and relationships between Army and SS which were at the heart of Hitler's grip on the Reich.
I'm appalled at the way the specialized and not so specialized media attacked Tom Cruise for this movie. Why? He's not just good but very good in his against type performance. I've heard critics calling him "distractingly bad", how ridiculous and nasty. The film by the great craftsman Bryan Singer is a suspenseful, beautifully made historical thriller with a remarkable attention to detail. In an effort to be accurate the Jews are never mention because in fact the attempt to assassinate Hitler had nothing to do with that. The real reason? The war had turned against the Germans, it was clear that they were entering a down spiral and Hitler's madness was at the center of that. Regardless of the fact we know how the story ends, the movie manages to be a gripping tale based on real events. Well done Mr.Cruise, you won! Your Valkyrie is performing stupendously at the almighty box office.
It was curious timing to release this film on Christmas Day. As David
Letterman quipped on last night's monologue: "Nothing says Holidays
like a good Nazi death plot".
Release timing not withstanding, this is a very powerful movie and by all accounts comports with the historical record. There was little embellishment for dramatic effect here. Hitler murder conspiracy dramas are abundant in Hollywood, but this one actually happened and was nearly successful. The story is riveting, and even though the outcome was already known (at least to anyone who had a rudimentary knowledge of WWII), the excitement level was sustained by not really knowing the precise timing of events or, more importantly, who would be spared in the end.
Tom Cruise was very good in the lead role as the chief conspirator (Col. von Stauffenberg). The rest of the cast was first rate, including Tom Wilkinson as Gen'l Fromm, a Nazi head honcho who was playing both sides of the fence, and many other notable actors, such as Kenneth Branagh and Terence Stamp, all excellent.
For fans of "Downfall", the German film documenting Hitler's final week in the bunker (one of the all time great WWII films and #75 on the IMDb top 250), there were two actors from that movie playing in this one. Thomas Kretschmann and Christian Berkel both were key figures in "Downfall" had supporting roles in this film.
For people with an interest in WWII or history in general, this is one film worth checking out.
I was curious about this movie since it had caused so much controversy
with Tom Cruise in the main role. Personally I think he was after all
not a bad choice for this part and all in all I am very happy that
there is an American movie that shows the different side of Germany and
Germans in the Third Reich (there was a time when in every Hollywood
Movie the villain were always Germans). But Americans, who in general
don't really have much understanding of history, fail to realize that
Hitler wasn't voted into power by the people. As a matter of fact, he
only received 36,8 % of the votes in the election. Though this made his
party the leading one, he could only gain power because the politicians
of the other parties thought they could control him. Once Hitler was
able to turn Germany into a dictatorship, it was extremely difficult to
form any resistance. So much as cracking a joke about the Fuehrer was
reason enough to be imprisoned, investigated and executed. Organizing a
conspiracy meant risking not only your life, but the life of everyone
even remotely associated with you. And you could never be sure who you
could trust or who might be a spy or simply rat you out for personal
gain. This is where this movie falls a little short, because it shows
Stauffenberg and others simply talking freely about their plans and
their convictions. Yes, I get that it is very difficult to portrait
this conflict and the tremendous danger in a two hour movie, but I
can't help it, I just feel that it doesn't give the audience a real
picture of how daring this operation was and how nerve wracking this
must have been (remember, this was the third attempt of Stauffenberg.
He had the explosives with him two times before and had to abort ...
each time risking detection). If you really think this through, you can
not have enough respect for their courage. And I can't help but to
point out, that most people don't even have the civil courage to
demonstrate and protest in a free country with a democratic government.
Bottom line: great movie and you should watch it. Just be reminded, that this is a very watered down version of history.
I really enjoyed this movie and I maybe one of the few that was not
annoyed by Tom Cruise. Well as I'm sure most people know this movie is
about the failed assassination attempt of Adolf Hitler.
The acting was very good throughout. I actually enjoyed Tom Cruise's performance but he did not take the lead as strongly as he should have. He did what had to be done but he could have elevated this movie like he has done to others in the past. His role needed that maverick type attitude like he provided in Born On the Fourth of July. His non-German accent was not an issue it was the strength that he displayed in his performance that was disappointing to many. This movie was certainly a chance for him to build his career back up to a more serious level but he clearly did not impress too many people with his role as Stauffenburg to do that. Still, he was enjoyable to watch for me.
The supporting cast though was great. Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy and Tom Wilkinson were all pivotal in the success of this movie and they certainly filled in perfectly. All around they were great performances but who I especially liked was Christian Berkel who I haven't heard of before as well as Jamie Parker.
The directing of Bryan Singer was superb. He provided an amazing amount of suspense to a movie that everyone knew the ending to. For a good half hour I was totally frozen watching as the plot unfold. I also thought the movie was paced very well and he brought the best out of the supporting cast. Of course it was shot very well with a great production throughout. The movie was written very nicely but as many people have said, it would have been great if there was more emotional depth added to the characters to make the audience feel more attached them.
This movie certainly had a lot of potential but it stayed within the realm of mostly a suspense action movie. Valkryie reminded me of a WW2 movie from the 50s and 60s with its style and pacing. It's very interesting to think about what ifs' and its kind of funny to think they almost pulled off the impossible without killing Hitler. Valkryie perfectly illustrates how the smallest of things can have the biggest impact.
Claus von Stauffenberg, a man famous for being a German Army Officer
who came closest to a assassinating Adolf Hitler. Von Stauffenberg is
the closest figure Germany has to a national hero during World War 2.
It's surprising that it took so long for a film to be made, nor to be a
Valkyrie is a test project for the newly reformed United Artists under Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner. It was also a smaller project for Bryan Singer after doing 3 superhero films and reunite Singer and Christoper McQuarrie for the first time after the Usual Suspects.
Valkyrie starts with a prelogue sequence in North Africa. Von Stauffenberg (Tom Cruise) is a disaffected officer who is questioning Hitler's regime and that he was leading Germany to the path of destruction. During a British air raid he is injured badly, loosing an eye, his right hand and two fingers on his left hand. He can no longer serve on the front line. In 1943 General Henning von Tresckow (Kenneth Branagh) fails in his attempt to assassin Hitler and the German Resistance loss an army officer to help with operations. Von Stauffenberg is recruited in the resistance and the General Staff. He comes up with the Valkyrie plan which was to make the assassination of Hitler look like an SS plot, and get the army to launch a coup to 'protect' the Nazi regime. Von Stauffenberg is the only man who could get close to Hitler because he was the Chief-of-Staff for the Reserve Army General. The film is split into three major parts, the planning, the assassination attempt and the attempted coup.
Singer was able to bring in a very stylist approach of direction. I enjoy Singer's films and he was able to show his skills again. He is able to get an excellent cast, including Bill Nighy, Kenneth Branagh, Terrence Stamp and Tom Wilkingson to name a few. However, he shot the film in the style of a thriller, which was interesting, but being a historical film with most people knowing the outcome already takes away the suspense. But Singer did make an enjoyable film. The film has a strong script
Valkyrie is a strong, enjoyable film. It is not Singer's best but he can still pull it of.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Valkryie, a movie that takes on the closest assassination to Adolf
Hitler, being such a huge history buff, sadly I knew how this was going
to end. I love walking out of the theater hearing the teenagers go
"What the heck?! I thought Hitler was going to die!", I bow my head in
shame. I know that there were a lot of people who had a thing about Tom
Cruise being the leading man, which I have to admit I had a few
questions, but you cannot deny despite his madness, he is a good actor
over all. I admit he can be cocky, but he got the film done with pretty
decent taste. I just have to laugh though because in this film we have
every kind of accent there is: American, English, German, EVEN POLISH!
A Polish Nazi? LOL, I'm sure that history must be proud of this movie.
But over all it's a decent representation of the attempted
assassination of Adolf Hitler.
During World War II, Wehrmacht Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg is severely wounded in Tunisia, and is evacuated home to Nazi Germany. Meanwhile, Major General Henning von Tresckow attempts to assassinate Adolf Hitler by smuggling a bomb aboard the Führer's private airplane. The bomb, however, fails to detonate and Tresckow safely retrieves it to conceal his intentions. After learning that the Gestapo has arrested General Hans Oster, he orders General Olbricht to find a replacement. After recruiting von Stauffenberg into the German Resistance, Olbricht delivers von Stauffenberg to a meeting of the secret committee which has coordinated previous attempts on Hitler's life. The members include General Ludwig Beck, Dr. Carl Goerdeler , and Erwin von Witzleben. The Colonel is stunned to learn that no plans exist for after Hitler's assassination. After a bombing raid on Berlin, he lights upon using the plan Operation Valkyrie, which involves the deployment of the Reserve Army to maintain order in the event of a national emergency. The plotters carefully redraft the plan so that they can dismantle the Nazi regime after assassinating Hitler, by overthrowing the SS and imprisoning Hitler's closest advisors. Realizing that only General Fromm, the head of the Reserve Army, can initiate Valkyrie, they offer him a position as head of the Wehrmacht in a Post-Nazi Germany and recruit him into the fold: however, Fromm initially refuses. With the rewritten plan needing to be signed off by Hitler himself, von Stauffenberg visits the Führer at his Berghof estate in Bavaria. In the presence of his inner circle, Hitler praises von Stauffenberg's heroism in North Africa not realizing the Colonel's true intentions.
Besides the accents and the A-list actors, honestly this could've been a made for TV film. It's not exactly the hit I think the studio was hoping for. Normally most WWII films are a big hit, but the problem was the advertising, the trailer I felt was a bit inappropriate, and the actors, I felt that this if not made in German should have just been with English actors or all American because all the accents were throwing me off. But the film is definitely worth the watch, I just suggest if you are ignorant when it comes to history, please for the love of God, do some research before watching a film like this, not just because Tom Cruise is in it.
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