Valkyrie: 2-Disc Special Edition

DVD Reviews | May 25th, 2009

Image used with permission for review purposes.

Starring: Tom Cruise, Bill Nighy, Kenneth Branagh, Terence Stamp, Tom Wilkinson, Eddie Izzard, Carice Van Houten, Christian Berkel, Jamie Parker, Thomas Kretschmann
Written By: Christopher McQuarrie, Nathan Alexander
Directed By: Bryan Singer
Studio: MGM / UA
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The latest Bryan Singer movie is an interesting one. I’m not sure every American will like this movie, even with what the German Resistance tried to do. But I found this story to be great, thrilling and heartbreaking. If you can get past Tom Cruise acting as a German, then you’ll enjoy this movie.

Valkyrie is about the July 20th 1944 plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler by German soldiers. Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg (Tom Cruise) gets recruited by General Olbricht (Bill Nighy), who is one of the leaders in the German Resistance. They pick him because he’s been outspoken against Hitler in the past. At a secret meeting, the group discusses their next mission to eliminate Hitler. Stauffenberg offers up a plan called “Operation Valkyrie,” where the reserved Army would maintain control of the cities if there was a national emergency. They need this because it will help with the coup. The only problem with that plan is that General Fromm (Tom Wilkinson) is the only one that can initiate the plan. The resistance tries to offer General Fromm a head position job in the Post-Nazi government but he refuses because Hitler is still alive. Yet he doesn’t tell anyone, mainly Hitler, that Stauffenberg and Olbricht were plotting something. The group continues the plot anyway and finally gets their chance to assassinate the Führer but unfortunately, you already know the outcome.

Based on the trailers, I didn’t know whether or not I would like Valkyrie or not. But after finally seeing it on DVD, I thought the film was great. It was thrilling and nerve wracking, yet gave me a history lesson at the same time. All that you see in the film is based on a true story, with only a few minor details being changed for the movie. It’s amazing how close the German resistance came to killing Hitler. Actually, this was the very last plot to kill the asshole before he finally committed suicide a few months later. The Germans tried to get rid of Hitler and failed 15 times. Unfortunately, we all know how that turned out and it’s a bit sickening to think how close they came with this assassination plot. You ever watch a movie or TV show and just see things going the wrong way the entire time? Well Valkyrie is one of those movies. It’s almost hard to watch because of that fact. You know the outcome, but curiosity sucks you in to see how close they really came. I think the film really helps out Germany’s cause as to show that not all were Nazis during WWII. Although, why weren’t there more people like this!? I guess too afraid to speak up and go against Hitler?

I had my concerns going into the film, mainly with the accents. Based on the trailers, everyone was speaking in a different accent. The opening scene shows Tom Cruise speaking in actual German, and then slowly switches to English. I guess we’re meant to think that everyone is speaking German and to keep that into your head. It’s a decent way of showing the audience this is meant to be in German. I remember 13th Warrior doing something similar. It’s just strange to see Tom Cruise as a German, and all these British actors playing Germans as well. One reason why the actors were picked because they look a lot alike to the real people they were playing. The cast is excellent, and they did their parts well. Tom Cruise was okay, but I would have picked a different actor to portray the Colonel. Maybe have someone play the Colonel who was German and not as well known as Tom Cruise? I think Thomas Kretschmann is a terrific actor and glad to see him in the movie. I hope he continues to get more work in American movies, because I can see him breaking out. Perhaps dye his hair and he could have played Stauffenberg? I noticed at least 4 or 5 actors that were in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies as well, which was cool to see. A mini-reunion of sorts.

I felt Bryan Singer’s direction was pretty good for the most part. I had no complaints with that or John Ottman’s editing. I think they succeeded in making a movie we already know the outcome to, and made it very exciting and thrilling. I don’t think I would have done everything differently except hire more German actors. But I can understand getting the people they got. Who wouldn’t want Tom Cruise, Bill Nighy, Kenneth Branagh, Terence Stamp, Tom Wilkinson and Eddie Izzard in your movie?

The 2-disc Special Edition DVD contains 2 sets of audio commentary, and a featurette and a documentary. The commentary is given by Tom Cruise, Bryan Singer and Christopher McQuarrie and then another by Christopher McQuarrie and Nathan Alexander. I didn’t listen to them but figured The Tom Cruise and Bryan Singer would be more enjoyable to listen to. The Journey to Valkyrie featurette is a 15 minute featurette that shows us behind the scenes look at the movie. It has interviews and stuff like that. It was okay but I would have liked a more extensive featurette of the making of. The crew had a hard time getting permission to film at Bendlerblock, where the resistance leaders were executed. But they finally got permission to shoot there and it meant a lot to them there. They gave a minute silence to honor the people that were executed there. The other thing on the DVD is an excellent documentary that was very informative. After I watched the movie, I wanted to read up on the German Resistance and this documentary gave me all the info I really needed. It’s worth watching after the film!

Valkyrie surprised me in that I thought it was going to suck and Tom Cruise was going to ruin another movie for me. But thankfully that didn’t happen. If you like history and movies about World War II, why not watch something that takes places on the other side? Trust me, you’ll enjoy this.

Disc One:
– Audio Commentary by Tom Cruise, Director/Producer Bryan Singer and Co-Writer/Producer Christopher McQuarrie
– Audio Commentary by Co-Writer/Producer Christopher McQuarrie and Co-Writer Nathan Alexander
– The Valyrie Legacy Documentary
– The Journey to Valkyrie Featurette

Disc Two:
– Digital Copy of Valkyrie for Portable Media Players

Widescreen 1.85:1 Color

ENGLISH: Dolby Digital 5.1 [CC]
SPANISH: Dolby Digital 5.1
FRENCH: Dolby Digital 5.1

English, Spanish, French

Bottom Line: A Thrilling movie that will keep you at the edge of your seat the entire time.
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 120 mins
Extras Rating:
Overall Rating:


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