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  1. #1
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    Default DVD Review: VALKYRIE (20th Century Fox/MGM)





    Studio Name: 20th Century Fox/MGM
    MPAA Rating: PG-13
    Transfer/Disc Information: Widescreen 1.85:1 Dual Layer; Region 1/U.S. Release
    Video Codec: N/A
    Tested Audio Track: English Dolby Digital 5.1
    Director: Bryan Singer
    Starring Cast: Tom Cruise, Tom Wilkinson, Eddie Izzard, Terence Stamp


    SYNOPSIS:

    This was a pretty good film, and I have been waiting for it since it hit theaters -- unfortunately, I didn't catch it theatrically. You wouldn't think a screenplay conceived about the plot to kill Adolf Hitler by members of his rogue government would be realized -- even marginally -- by the director who did Superman Returns and brought to life by lead actor Tom Cruise. But you know something? It worked. Singer assembled a top-notch cast including the great Terence Stamp (Superman II, The Haunted Mansion), standup comic Eddie Izzard and the electrifying but underrated Tom Wilkinson (The Patriot, Batman Begins, Michael Clayton), each of them playing different characters dug deep into the Hitler regime, based on actual events.

    Personally having past generations of family lost in the Nazi concentration camps of World War II, the intricate history and subsequent destruction of the world's most powerful dictatorship has always fascinated me; I just caught the real story behind the idea for Singer's film the other night on cable, and indeed, Cruise played the "Colonel Stauffenberg" role pretty spot on -- the filmmakers even got the look right (a seemingly near-impossible feat as of late for some odd reason) with his eye patch and demeanor fitting perfectly. As history has it, Hitler committed suicide before the Allies and America could get to him, or before he could witness the re-taking of his nation, which was eventually defeated on all fronts; it's been a subject of debate exactly how much of this actually happened and in which fashion, with many German descendants claiming Hitler never actually killed himself and he resisted the Allied invasion until the very end, while other Holocaust support organizations (many of which I have spoken with) claim he definitely did take his own life as being a "coward." In any event, Bryan Singer's Valkyrie portrays the last of some 15 attempts on Hitler's life by his own regime members, none of which, apparently, succeeded.

    The film is two hours long, but it moves at a very crisp clip, thanks to Singer's action-infested direction in this one, and it never gets too thick in its history-telling or backstories; instead, we're dropped right in the middle of what's going on in Germany, circa 1944, and the tension and pace Singer sets continues on through every frame. Cruise, as aforementioned, plays German Colonel Stauffenberg, starting off the film already showing signs of discontentment with Hitler and his ways of leading Germany. Sure, Cruise plays his role here as he always does, with that heavy-handed hammyness and typical dialogue delivery that accompanies all his performances, but he is actually believable as Stauffenberg. When his outpost is attacked and he is left horribly injured with a missing left eye, a missing right hand and fingers missing from the left, he comes out of the military hospital dead set on stopping Hitler any way he can.

    A conspiracy within the ranks of the Berlin government and Hitler's own Nazi squads develops, with Cruise appointed the new man to lead the assassination attempt after many others had failed. Some of the in-between areas here get a bit hazy, as Singer seems to be leaving much history out in explaining exactly how Stauffenberg got "appointed" to carry this order out and such, but the film is still exciting as it is. Tom Wilkinson, always fun to watch onscreen, plays a Nazi General who remains loyal to Hitler even as a plot to kill him unravels around him, while Terence Stamp plays another German insider deeply supporting the plan for assassination. There are even shots of Hitler as a character in this film, the mustache, hair and demeanor seemingly spot-on as well, and Singer went the extra mile to actually make him a character -- not just a name that everyone in the film is trying to kill.

    As the film goes on, some of the elements get a bit hazy and pondering, and I lost focus on exactly what was going on after awhile; the plan for assassination includes getting an explosive-loaded briefcase into Hitler's meeting chamber, and much of the film concentrates on the energy and concentration needed to carry this out. Cruise plays Stauffenberg's slightly paranoid, yet dedicated character to a tee here, and it's one of his better performances in some time.

    This was an intriguing, enveloping and entertaining two hours. The verdict on whether it's a buy is still out -- but it's a wise choice for a rental.

    VIDEO QUALITY:

    Okay. So I know this wasn't a Blu-ray review friends, but bear with me here...the standard DVD I rented was upscaled to 1080p on my Panasonic 'BD10A player -- which is notorious for poor upconversion -- and believe it or not, this 1.85:1 transfer from Fox looked great for standard def. I'm not kidding.

    Darker portions showed some compression artifacting, as all DVDs do, and I noticed a scene or two with macroblocking problems, but overall, this disc looked pretty fabulous for standard definition, leading me to believe the BD is pretty awesome looking. There was very little video noise in the background, and outdoor sequences indeed looked very near-HD like, with clean, real fleshtones, bright colors and an overall punchy, clean look. Very nice job by Fox on this DVD.

    AUDIO QUALITY:

    Just as impressive as the video on this DVD was the English Dolby Digital 5.1 mix -- curious that Fox didn't include a DTS track, as that has been the direction they were going in on their standard DVD releases (even Quantum of Solace included one), but no matter, this track, during action sequences, is a real house-shaker. LFE comes in spades, and the fly-bys of World War II fighter jets roar in and out of the entire soundstage. The track did have a problem with dialogue -- sometimes this level got so low, I couldn't make out the whispering between characters, which happened a lot. When I cranked up the master volume to compensate, gunshots and explosions were way too loud. My player's "Dialogue Enhancer" didn't help either, so I switched it back off.

    But this Dolby track really kicked ass for a standard DVD -- it encompassed the quiet areas where thunderous audio wasn't called for alongside the booming aggressiveness of the planes and guns of this era. The Hitler bombing sequence in which him and his men are thrown out of the exploding building in varying directions is absolutely thundering if you have your volume up too high, and while not much surround activity accompanies this scene surprisingly, the wallop that the blast delivers is attention-grabbing. There's a moment also when pistols are being fired at Cruise and his men at the end, and the shots come off sounding empty and hollow -- but it was an exact authenticity of how those pistols sounded at that time, and that was an impressive effort by the sound design team.

    SUMMARY:

    Not a drop-dead-excellent motion picture, but a very well-made one by Bryan Singer -- if you're a history buff, this one will sure please, even though some suspension of disbelief should be on hand, as well as some breathing room given to Singer and crew for historical authenticity through and through. From what I have read, seen and understand, Singer got most of this right -- from the costumes, years and dates flashed at the bottom of each scene and demeanors portrayed by the actors, so that's in the plus column.

    A surprisingly good action/historical thriller based on a true story about the attempt to put down one of the world's most evil tyrants ever recorded by the annals of history.

    RECOMMENDATIONS:

    It's rated PG-13, but there's a lot of violence in this one, even though you can tell Singer tried his best to curb this...attempting to show as little as possible of Cruise's character's bombing injuries that were pretty horrific, etc. Excellent performance turn-ins from Cruise, Wilkinson and Stamp make this an easy recommendation, either on Blu or standard.

    Please fire away with any questions or comments, and thank you, as always, for taking the time to read! :hithere::busy:[/font]
    Last edited by Mike LoManaco; 05-21-2009 at 04:28 AM.

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike LoManaco View Post
    with many German descendants claiming Hitler never actually killed himself
    Which was also hinted at in an episode of, surprisingly, "Simon & Simon".

    Thanks for the detailed review. I think Tom Cruise was really serious about putting in a good acting performance for this movie. Looking forward to it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Danny Tse View Post
    Which was also hinted at in an episode of, surprisingly, "Simon & Simon".

    Thanks for the detailed review. I think Tom Cruise was really serious about putting in a good acting performance for this movie. Looking forward to it.
    Hey Danny!

    Thanks so much for reading and for your thoughts; indeed, Cruise put a serious twist on this performance, and from all the research I have gathered, he seems to have nailed Stauffenberg down pretty spot-on -- the film was surprisingly good, in an age where one out of 100 pictures coming from Hollywood can be considered "decent."

    Thanks again for reading, and hope you enjoy VALKYRIE!

  4. #4
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    Just watched it and really enjoyed it, a very well done film with lots of suspense.
    If...
    Ron dislikes a film = go out and buy it.
    Ron loves a film = don't even rent.

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    Looking forward to seeing this tonight.
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  6. #6

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    very good movie....had it turned up pretty loud, the first action scene 10 min or so into the movie was wall shaking to say the least! Would have been sooooo much better in DTS.
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    Thanks. I put in in the Netfilix line up.
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  8. #8
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    Hey Guys!

    Thanks so much for all the inputs and replies; hope you all enjoy the title. Indeed, it was loaded with suspense and Cruise was actually decently serious in this.

    I agree with the member who mentioned this audio track could have been really wild in DTS...:)

  9. #9

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    Will watch this one over the weekend.
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    I watched this last night. Overall, an excellent movie. Of course I knew how it was going to end but kept rooting for a different outcome. Cruise was outstanding, and a host of other terrific actors.

  11. #11

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    Good movie, enjoyed it. Albeit the re-watch factor is pretty low, hence it is a must rent flick.
    I am sorry, I have no opinion on the matter. I am sure you do. So, don't mind me, I just want to talk audio and pie.

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    I watched this last night on blu ray. Overall a good movie.

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    I watched this for a second time last night before returning the rental; while a good film, indeed, I am not sure how much replay time this would get, so I agree to a point with the member who made that statement -- however, on the other hand, I CAN see me watching it a few more times, so I'm torn on a purchase.

    I'd be interested to view the BD version though...with Master Audio...

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    Well, Mike, since this is a historical period piece, I do enjoy going through these types of movies a second time and concentrating on the props and settings so there is some replay value but ultimately I doubt I'll catch it again unless it's showing on one of the local TV networks on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fatchowmein View Post
    Well, Mike, since this is a historical period piece, I do enjoy going through these types of movies a second time and concentrating on the props and settings so there is some replay value but ultimately I doubt I'll catch it again unless it's showing on one of the local TV networks on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
    Indeed; thank you for your thoughts...

    If I do purchase this down the line, I'll probably get the BD version; the DVD was so good visually and aurally, the high def version must be dynamite...

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    Thanks for the review. Wasn't sure about Tom Cruise - but sounds like I should give it a shot.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 4kings1 View Post
    Thanks for the review. Wasn't sure about Tom Cruise - but sounds like I should give it a shot.
    You are very welcome, Kings; thank you for reading and commenting.

    I'm not big on Cruise -- his heavy-handed, typical sarcastic acting deliveries have become almost a characture of himself -- but he was pretty "believable" as Stauffenberg in this, save for the un-German accent...

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    Saw this over the weekend and really enjoyed it. It kept me totally on the edge of my seat for most of the movie... very suspenseful. Loved the bomb explosions on my sub. It's a keeper.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ern Dog View Post
    Saw this over the weekend and really enjoyed it. It kept me totally on the edge of my seat for most of the movie... very suspenseful. Loved the bomb explosions on my sub. It's a keeper.
    Thanks for your thoughts, 'Dog!

    Indeed, the Dolby Digital soundtrack kicked ass on this title; did you see the standard DVD or Blu-ray Disc?

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    Not a Tom Cruise fan, but the GF and I actually did enjoy the movie. From what I can tell it was pretty accurate historically. That, and we love the ww2 movies :D

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    Quote Originally Posted by messiah View Post
    Not a Tom Cruise fan, but the GF and I actually did enjoy the movie. From what I can tell it was pretty accurate historically. That, and we love the ww2 movies :D
    I agree, Messiah! :)

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    This was one of the better films I've rented recently.

    Thankfully, the filmed spared us the true fate of the coup leaders which was reportedly far more gruesome than the firing squad portrayed in the film.

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    Quote Originally Posted by toobwacky View Post
    This was one of the better films I've rented recently.

    Thankfully, the filmed spared us the true fate of the coup leaders which was reportedly far more gruesome than the firing squad portrayed in the film.
    Thank you for the insight, 'Wacky; what exactly happened to the leaders that wasn't portrayed by Singer?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike LoManaco View Post
    Thank you for the insight, 'Wacky; what exactly happened to the leaders that wasn't portrayed by Singer?
    Decorum prevents me from specifying the grizzly end that met these men. However, if you are truly interested, Google: "Valkyrie piano wire" and I'm sure you will find what I made reference to.

    The event was filmed so Hitler could enjoy watching what became of those who tried to kill him.

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    Quote Originally Posted by toobwacky View Post
    Decorum prevents me from specifying the grizzly end that met these men. However, if you are truly interested, Google: "Valkyrie piano wire" and I'm sure you will find what I made reference to.

    The event was filmed so Hitler could enjoy watching what became of those who tried to kill him.
    Very interesting; I did a good deal of research on the topic as I wrote the review and just prior to screening the DVD, and didn't come across the piano wire ordeal.

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    I ended up buying this on BR because of the long wait on Netflix, great movie IMO and worthy of the purchase.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt34 View Post
    I ended up buying this on BR because of the long wait on Netflix, great movie IMO and worthy of the purchase.
    Thanks Matt...

    So, this was a blind buy for you? I enjoyed Valkyrie as well, but I'm just not sure how much repeat viewings it would get; it's one of those titles I'm on the fence about in terms of a purchase -- the same way with a number of new releases such as Body of Lies, Friday the 13th, Gran Torino...

    The review I posted here is of the standard DVD edition; I'd love to see what the BD looked like and what it sounded like.

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    My sons and I saw this flick in the theaters when it came out. I was impressed by the screenwriting and post-production editing.There were few gaps in the story line and pretty darn accurate historically, creative rights given.
    I found Tom Cruises performance less over the top, almost stoic, in this movie versus his past roles(War of the Worlds, Mission Impossible(s) et al). Kinda like Collateral without the socio-pathic edge but having the same goal........

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    Quote Originally Posted by lightman1 View Post
    I found Tom Cruises performance less over the top, almost stoic, in this movie versus his past roles(War of the Worlds, Mission Impossible(s) et al). Kinda like Collateral without the socio-pathic edge but having the same goal........
    Agreed, and what I was attempting to convey in the review...

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    i loved this movie, i never knew anything about this astonishing piece of history and it was never tought in school, the same with the danny craig movie defiance

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