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VALKYRIE, 2008
Movie Reviews!

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VALKYRIE MOVIE POSTER
VALKYRIE
Movie Review
Directed by Bryan Singer
Starring: Tom Cruise, Tom Wilkenson, Terrence Stamp, Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy
Review by Matthew Toffolo



SYNOPSIS:

Based on actual events, a plot to assassinate Hitler is unfurled during the height of WWII.

REVIEW:

Valkyrie is one of the most interesting Hollywood movies made in a long time. I mean, why the heck would they make this movie? There are no surprises and most of us know the end result of Adolf Hitler. A happy ending is impossible unless they wanted to rewrite history. And Tom Cruise playing a Colonel in the Nazi Army could be one of the most fascinating casting choices in the history of Hollywood cinema.

Despite Tom Cruise's recent negative publicity, he is America's golden boy actor. Starting with Risky Business in 1983, no other actor had been on top for so long as Cruise kept delivering box office gold year after year. And having him play a Nazi German is something I think no one would of ever thought would happen. Yes, he is a 'good guy' Nazi German, but part of the most evil and terrible organizations of the 20th century he is nonetheless.

I laughed a lot at this film when I kept seeing the movie trailer leading up to its opening. I kept on calling it the 'Eye Patch Movie'. I honesty thought this film was a joke the first few times and Cruise was going "DeNiro" and heading into the comedy genre world. Wearing an eye patch is usually done as a comedic device. And him playing a Nazi Colonal could never be played as a serious thing, could it?

And watching Cruise, Tom Wilkenson, Terrence Stamp and Kenneth Branagh speaking English but are really Germans didn't sit well with me. Why aren't they speaking German? Tom Cruise is Tom Cruise, meaning that it's hard for him to dive himself into a perfomance eye patch or not. He's a movie star who's playing a version of himself almost every single time he's on screen. That's his job and it's what people want to see. But in Valkyrie he can't do that. We the audience must be convinced that he is indeed Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg from Germany living in World War II.

So did Golden Boy Tommy pull it off? Surprisingly, I think he did.

The first thing director Bryan Singer needs to do is transition the German language to English so we the audience are convinced. I remember the film The Hunt for Red October, starring Sean Connery as a Russian submarine captain. In order for the movie to be convincing, we must believe that Connery and his crew are indeed Russians. But Hollywood execs would never allow a star like him in a big budget movie like that to speak Russian with English subtitles for two plus hours. So they had to figure something out. In the first 10 minutes, Connery and his crew do indeed speak Russian. Then there is a close up on his mouth while he's speaking Russian and then a dolly shot into a close up of his entire face where he starts to speak English. It works in that film and Singer does the same in Valkyrie. Tom Cruise is

writing into his journal in the opening shot and there is a voice over of him speaking German. Then there is a close up of him writing in German and then they transition him from speaking German to English. It works and for the rest of the film I was convinced, even him Adolf Hitler himself was speaking English.

Speaking of Adolf Hitler. Was he creepy looking even then? Or do we see him now as creep with his cookie cutter haircut and bizarre mustache? I guess it's all perception as Hitler is looked upon as the worst person of the 20th century. So whatever a person like that looks like, his style is ruined forever and no one could ever wear a mustache like that again. And do you ever notice that every single 'evil' person in the history of man has a mustache?

Hitler must of been a short guy too. Tom Cruise is barely 5 '8 and he towers over Hitler in the movie. Was Hitler really only 5 '4?

Overall, I liked Valkyrie. I was surprised how much I liked it. It's important to know that there was resistance from many people in Germany for what Hitler was doing. But Valkyrie never really tells you if this group wanted to take Hitler down because he was losing the war, or if they truly didn't believe in his prinicipals? I guess this group of people who were coluding all had their own reasons for it. That's what I liked about the film, they didn't give you a black or white scenario. People just aren't that simple.

And I honestly didn't know this story at all and it was a great history lesson. 2008 is the year for the good guy Nazis. This is the third movie I've seen (The Reader, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas being the others) that we have main characters as Nazis who may or may not be believers in the Hitler reign.

I am a jerk in the fact that I always want to talk to every single German I meet about this time. It's too fascinating for me. What really happened in Germany with the common people? How did this madness happen? And what were people really thinking?

I am not trying to compare the Bush era with the Hitler era, but history will tell us that Bush and the gang did some really sketchy things in order to obtain power in an oil based area. And many people just sat back and let it happen. They are not bad people for this because we all are guilty of living in our own world and forgetting what's happening around us. The same thing probably happened in Germany. Hitler was doing some good things, but he had a grand agenda. Even America's hero, Charles Lindbergh, liked Hitler a lot and thought he was doing good things for the world. Many people got duped. And I guess 60+ years is enough time for movies to be made about it. Tom Cruise and Bryan Singer took a big risk in making Valkyrie. And they should be commeded for it. I honesty think that the world isn't ready for Tom Cruise in this film. My first reactions for negative and I wouldn't of watched the film if I didn't have to do it for a living. But I'm glad I did and I hope other do too.

Valkyrie is also the most surprising films of 2008.

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