Monday, January 05, 2009
Director: Bryan Singer
Starring: Tom Cruise, Bill Nighy, Kenneth Branagh, Tom Wilkinson, Thomas Kretschmann
Distributor: MGM Home Entertainment
MPAA: Rated R
Valkyrie has hit some bumps before releasing in late December. The film directed by Bryan Singer, was pushed back several times during production which resulted in more and more fans simply losing interest in this film. I was still somewhat excited for the film simply because I think Singer is a talented filmmaker. My excitement only grew when MGM finally released the full trailer for Valkyrie which I thought looked awesome.
Colonel Claus von Stauffenburg (Tom Cruise), is the real life mastermind behind the elaborate plot known as Project Valkyrie: a plan to assassinate Hitler and overthrow his government from the inside. Stauffenburg has been a loyal soldier and an asset to the Reich for his entire military career, but after losing an eye, a hand, and three fingers in an Allied bombing, he reaches a breaking point. The destructive madness that his country is unleashing on the world has become too terrible for the Colonel to stand silent. He joins the resistance movement and risks his life and the life of his family for the chance to assassinate Adolf Hitler and effectively render the German war machine impotent.
The film is based on true events that occurred during the Hitler era. Their is no surprise here and the film ends the way it did in real life. While this does make the film predictable and pretty straight forward, Valkyrie is still a very interesting film. The amount of information we have presented is great and we get to know alot about what really happened. The script is written in a stylish way that keeps you on the edge of your seat. I thought the film kept me interested and really made for some thrilling moments. The film does have alot of dialogue, but its mostly dialogue that tells us whats happening next. Since their is alot of dialogue, there were times where I felt the movie was more like something I should be watching on the History channel instead of theaters. I don't mind alot of dialogue, but I'm pretty sure the film could have been trimmed down alittle. The movie can also get somewhat emotional in later scenes and when you find out how these men were so close to stopping a tyrant known as Hitler. I thought the characters were very interesting and consisted of many layers. Its just a shame that we don't get much character development on these interesting characters which I thought was really lacking. I'm also interested to see if another ending for the film was made. As much as I thought the original ending was good and went with the real events that happened in the past, I think an alternate ending could be fun to watch.
Tom Cruise plays as Oberst Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg and he does a great job at it. Cruise has been getting alot of negativity lately and I don't know why, but his performance here should shut those haters. His Stauffenberg is well played and pretty smart. I wouldn't necessarily say its Cruise's best work, but its definitely one of his finest in a long time. Bill Nighy plays as Friedrich Olbricht and he too gives a good performance. I usually tend to enjoy Nighy in almost any movie hes in simply because he knows what to do. Hes very helpful in this film and equally makes a nice addition to the cast. Kenneth Branagh plays as General Henning von Tresckow and hes also another winner. He has alot of screen time and I think he was very effective in every scene. Tom Wilkinson plays as General Friedrich Fromm and hes as great as always. Wilkinson has been in alot of recent hits and hes been great in all of them. Valkyrie is no exception and Wilkinson delivers another strong performance. We also have Thomas Kretschmann playing as Major Otto Ernst Remer. He doesn't have alot of screen time compared to some of the other actors, but I liked the role he played in the movie.
The visual look of Valkyrie is somewhat of a mixed bag. The film generally looks great, but a few issues keep it from being perfect. Being relatively new, I wasn't able to detect much film grain. I might have scene a couple scenes that looked like it might contain some grain, but its hardly ever going to bother you. The color tone was great and Valkyrie always tends to look somewhat vibrant. Colors tend to pop and show a good amount of color especially the first 30 Min's. Black levels are pretty darn strong and hold up very well in some of the darker scenes. I'm really happy about this since some of the scenes later on in the film are mostly in low lit indoor areas. Flesh tones seem pretty accurate for the most part, but can tend to look alittle waxy at times. Detail is pretty good and the film shows a good amount of clarity, but I cant help thinking that this film can look better. Close up shots show some good facial detail, but it isn't razor sharp as I would have thought it to be considering its a new release. I think this was due to the producers wanting the film to stay natural and feel more like a film of its period.
The soundtrack in Valkyrie is simply great. The films music is composed by John Ottman who also composed other films like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Superman Returns. His score for the movie is effective and really good. It not only brings the suspense in the film to a new level, but its also pretty darn good. Even though the film is more dialogue oriented, it still manages to pull enough music to satisfy the audience. Speaking of dialogue, I wish it was alittle higher in terms of volume. I mean its perfectly crisp and clear, but just alittle soft in some spots. The bass in Valkyrie is bombastic. I honestly wasn't expecting much from this film in terms of bass, but I was more than pleasantly surprised on how strong it really is. Dynamics are loud and spread out nicely. Gun shots and explosions are clear and don't seem to have any background noise that get in the way of anything.
Valkyrie is a great film that I fairly enjoyed. Its predictable, thrilling and somewhat gripping. I just wish some parts were slightly trimmed and their was more character development. These were interesting characters that should have been more exploited and explained. The films cast is great with everyone delivering solid performances. Its easily one of Tom Cruise's finest performance in a long time. The visual look of the film is generally good with vibrant colors that pop, buts its detail could have been better. The soundtrack is great with great music that goes well with a stellar bass. Valkyrie is definitely worth checking out if your into movies about Hitler or just looking for a good thriller of a movie.