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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Far exceeded my expectations!
Given that this was made and released as a mainstream film with a big Hollywood name (Cruise) in the leading role, I had wrongly assumed that this would turn out to be another glitzy mis-recreation of an important historical event. How wrong I was! I was very pleasantly surprised with the treatment of the subject matter which was both sensitive and accurate: a rarity...
Published on 15 July 2010 by Dan the man

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well crafted film but..........
The film was well produced and crafted, art direction brilliant, acting by and large good, accents a bit dodgy but generally I enjoyed it. However (and there is a big however) why oh why must the enjoyment of DVD's these days be ruined by the horrendous sound quality. In some cases, we could barely hear some of the actors speaking. The sound is turned up. Then you get the...
Published 20 months ago by Pip Gundill


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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Far exceeded my expectations!, 15 July 2010
By 
Dan the man (North Yorkshire) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Valkyrie [DVD] (DVD)
Given that this was made and released as a mainstream film with a big Hollywood name (Cruise) in the leading role, I had wrongly assumed that this would turn out to be another glitzy mis-recreation of an important historical event. How wrong I was! I was very pleasantly surprised with the treatment of the subject matter which was both sensitive and accurate: a rarity indeed!
Whoever has adapted this important historical event into a screenplay has done a tremendous job creating characters who are believably human (complete with flaws) whilst remaining faithful to the events. The cast is an excellent line-up of some of the best serious actors currently treading the boards and I was pleasantly surprised at just how much British talent is showcased here. It is obvious that a great deal of homework has been done and this could serve as a great lesson to other film-makers that you do not have to distort, invent or change the facts of history to make it entertaining (NB: U571, Pearl Harbour, Inglorious Basterds!).
I would recommend this film to anyone who has even a passing interest in WW2 or even viewers who simply enjoy a good tale well told.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superior effort from Tom Cruise, 9 July 2011
By 
Chris White (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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When it comes to Tom Cruise movies, there are normally two certainties. Namely: the poster art will consist solely of his face and no matter what the situation, his character will have availed himself of impeccable dental care.

Cruise may be nominally the star but to surround himself by such capable talent on both sides of the camera lifts Valkyrie above his average vehicle. It's directed by Bryan Singer, who reunites with his Usual Suspects collaborators Christopher McQuarrie (co-writer) and John Ottman (composer and editor). The ensemble includes Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson and Terence Stamp.

The subject matter also represents a departure. The true-life story of an assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler means everyone knows up front that he won't be riding off into the sunset, having got the girl who 'completes' him. In fact, Cruise's physical resemblance to the person he portrays, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, is uncanny.

Von Stauffenberg was an outspoken opponent of the Hitler regime and the prime mover behind a daring plan to eradicate the dictator from the scene once and for all. The fact that Der Führer didn't meet his end after walking into an elaborate mousetrap makes witnessing what might have been all the more fascinating. Indeed, the tension is ramped up throughout and despite their being on a hiding to nothing you find yourself rooting for the conspirators.

The one potential sticking point is the use of the actors' natural speaking voices instead of German accents. It's obvious that some of the cast would be better at them than others so this is neatly transitioned right at the beginning. You soon accept that it's a theatrical convention and doesn't detract from your enjoyment.

Singer employs a bright colour palette, which helps the Blu-ray format shine to its best advantage along with a powerful DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack. The disc isn't light on extras either, with two commentaries and several featurettes covering the making of the film and a feature-length documentary about its historical background.

In a break with tradition, Cruise has allowed the cover art to include all the principal cast. Alas, his teeth remain a lighting cameraman's nightmare. It is nonetheless very highly recommended.
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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I unexpectedly enjoyed it,, 31 May 2009
This review is from: Valkyrie [DVD] (DVD)
I was a little hesitant to see this movie since it's an historical story & also because of the mediocre reviews, I expected to be bored, but my husband wanted to see it & I thought that I would fall asleep watching, as usual, but I was wrong. The movie engaged me from the beginning & even though I knew the ending, the movie was quite captivating & kept me up waiting to see what will happen. A very nice surprise. Also Tom Cruise was great even though I don't care for him much lately he really gave this movie a soul. Well done.
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60 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply outstanding, 12 Jun 2009
By 
J. Champs "Jay Neuf" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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As an expert on Nazi Germany, having studied the subject for over 35 years, having grown to understand its causes and motivations and how these lead to an appalling - yet well stated intent - to massacre and conquer, this film simply captivates and overwhelms. I had heard a great deal of criticism levelled at Tom Cruise for attempting to play a 6ft 2 Colonel who is regarded as the chief hero of the German resistance.

However, with one tiny inaccuracy at the start of the film, it proceeded in its relentless journey to impress time after time, with its locations, infinitesimal attention to detail which can only be described as a triumph of research and its utterly moving telling of a story doomed to fail from the day it was conceived.

If ever there was a tale about how not to carry out a military coup this is it. Endless good intentions utterly ruined by a total failure of communications.

I found the scene at The Berghof, when Stauffenberg has to get Hitler to sign the Walkure amendment to enable the plan to take shape, simply unbearable in its tension. Every member of the senior German government was instantly recognisable to me without any names being used and most of them not speaking, they were that superbly portrayed and chosen. The exceptional detail of the Berghof layout was just awe-inspiring.

The aircraft scene (which there is an interesting documentary about on the disc) is again outstanding, this is exactly how Hitler travelled. Even the way everyone reluctantly puts out their cigarettes (Hitler loathed smoking)as he arrives. The focus on a mosquito biting a guard - emphasising the sultry summer heat and mosquito infested Rastenburg site was genius. You didn't have to do it, but in doing so, for detail freaks like me, this was extraordinary.

The acting was outstanding, simple as that. I may not get an Oscar or any awards, but I regard this film as one of the finest historical recreations ever made.

To all involved thank you. I and several others were in floods of tears at the end when I saw this twice at the cinema, and already three times on Blu-Ray. Never mind the digital copy that sits on my iPhone so I can bore others to death at will.

I cannot say anything bad about this film. It was a risk to make it, asking for massive criticism and yet its sensitivity, detail and accuracy, especially using (even if unintentionally in one case) the actual locations where possible, just made it as near perfect as can be reasonable 65 years past the event.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well crafted film but.........., 16 Nov 2012
By 
Pip Gundill (Birmingham, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Valkyrie [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
The film was well produced and crafted, art direction brilliant, acting by and large good, accents a bit dodgy but generally I enjoyed it. However (and there is a big however) why oh why must the enjoyment of DVD's these days be ruined by the horrendous sound quality. In some cases, we could barely hear some of the actors speaking. The sound is turned up. Then you get the music coming in and it's like being surrounded by a wall of sound so it has to be turned down. We've noticed this in the last few years. In the cinema there isn't such a problem. The sound in these multiplexes is phenomenally loud, both speech and music. It's certainly spoiling this viewer's enjoyment.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars WAR FILM, 15 Dec 2010
By 
Neil Brennan "garion" (Rochdale, Lancs United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Valkyrie [DVD] (DVD)
A very good war film of a true event towards the end of World War 2, which could have changed the course of history. Good acting by all especially Tom Cruise who is excellent, and he is very well backed up. Even though you know what will happen, you are still at the edge of your seat watching this.
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62 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Taut and compact thriller - very much a movie rather than a historical study, 8 Mar 2009
This review is from: Valkyrie [DVD] (DVD)
Tom Cruise stars as Colonel Von Staffenberg in this semi-factual account of the most notorious of all wartime plots to assassinate Adolf Hitler and end WWII. Cruise portrays Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, a wealthy aristocrat who lost an eye and a hand while fighting for Germany during World War II. Stauffenberg became the key man in a large-scale conspiracy that set out to assassinate the Nazi leader and seize control of the German government. The film's main event is the assassination attempt that took place on July 20, 1944, at the Wolf's Lair; Hitler's Eastern Front military headquarters located in what is now Poland. The film examines the preparation for the assassination, its implementation and the attempted coup that followed. The interest isn't in the final results -- it's the details of what happens along the way that matter.

Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects) directs with his trademark economical flair; there is no fat on this movie and the predominantly British cast all acquit themselves well. Tom Wilkinson, Kenneth Cranham, Terence Stamp and the ubiquitous Bill Nighy are just some of the accomplished cast, which also features comedian Eddie Izzard in an unusual but inspired piece of casting. The action is sparing but consequently the film's intensity is maintained throughout, as the band of disillusioned conspirators gradually move towards their goal.

Much has been made of Cruise's willingness to participate in this relatively low-key project, and of the director's decision that the actor were to speak in their own accents during the movie. However, I didn't feel that the latter detracted from the power of the performances nor did Cruise seem out of place as the mutilated and enigmatic Staffenburg; in my humble opinion. I was also disturbed but intrigued by the film's historical aspects, as I had little knowledge of the Staffenburg plot or any of its participants prior to watching this film. Critical reception seems to have been mixed, but all I can say is that I would recommend this as an edgy historical thriller, with a decent cast and high production values.

DVD extras include The Valkyrie Legacy', a fairly lengthy documentary from The History Channel. Historians and spokesmen for the German Resistance Memorial Centre talk about the events dramatized in the film. we even hear from two of Von Stauffenberg's children, one of whom was born in a concentration camp.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The German General(s) Election of 1944, 11 July 2010
By 
Paul T Horgan (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Valkyrie [DVD] (DVD)
It may come as a surprise to know that there was a US presidential election in 1944, where Roosevelt was returned for a record-breaking 4th term. He did not live to see this out, passing away in April 1945.

It would have been possible to unseat Churchill, after all, he had got the top job as a result of his predecessor's resignation following a loss of parliamentary support. In fact his job was on the line in 1942 when he had to face a vote of confidence in the House of Commons after Rommel was in the middle of his winning streak in Africa.

France changed its government, appointing Petain as Prime minister to arrange an armistice in 1940.

Mussolini was actually deposed constitutionally in 1943. This was despite him being a dictator. Stalin could theoretically have been deposed had there been a vote in the Politburo that also disposed of his secret policeman Beria.

Japan also constitutionally changed its policy in the shadow of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki and was able to sue for peace.

Which brings us to Nazi Germany. This country, alone of all the major belligerents on either side, had no proper method of replacing its leader to drive policy change. This was because Hitler ruled the Third Reich by decree with his 'kitchen cabinet' of Keitel, Himmler, Speer, Goering and Goebbels (all of whom appear in this film, however fleetingly). There was no functioning constitution. This had been replaced by the Fuhrerprinzip, a paramilitary doctrine where orders were to be obeyed without debate or question. How Germany had messed up its politics such that it was run according to the will of one man without any process for change has fascinated historians for decades. It is also an indictment of the weakness of German politics and its political processes.

In fact this means that the only method to force a change of government was extermination of some or all of the executive. This reduces the valour of the resisters to a simple statement of logic. They did not have to resist or advocate change through murder as part of a quest to save their country. In Germany's unwritten constitution it was in fact the only way to effect change. Hitler's suicide in April 1945 allowed the country to sue for peace just before total annihilation. There was no way to make the change without bloodshed.

The Stauffenberg plot has been well documented and is also not new to cinema. It appeared in a biopic of Rommel as a way of explaining his suicide in October 1944 back in the 1950s.

Tom Cruise has been the butt of some jokes about his acting, most notably by Rich Hall, but here he does not have room for manoeuvre. He is playing a historical figure about which a lot has been written. Like all his films the plot does revolve around him and to his credit he does not put a foot wrong. To those familiar with the July 20th plot, this is the pages of history brought to life in a very well-acted, well shot and well directed manner. Nothing jars or seems out of place here. This has the feel of authenticity.

I would liked to have seen some of the dramatic action taking place outside of Berlin, like the arrests of the SS in Paris and Vienna and perhaps an appearance by Rommel. However this would have lengthened the film or caused it to be brutally cut

There is a bonus of a magnificent array of British acting talent supporting the lead. It is as if someone got a shovel and dug out the best middle-aged British dramatic talent, shoved them in German uniforms and told them to get on with it. And, as always when playing skulduggerous officialdom, they do it brilliantly. I like to think it was some kind of reunion party for some. They all seem to be having a good time of it.

So, if you have 'Downfall', then this is another useful addition to your collection. If you don't, get both.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Suspenseful Piece of History, but..., 21 May 2009
By 
Martin A Hogan "Marty From SF" (San Francisco, CA. (Hercules)) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Valkyrie [DVD] (DVD)
There have been five versions of `Valkyrie' told on screen in the last twenty years. 1990 had the excellent Brad Davis in "The Plot To Kill Hitler", 2004 had "Operation Valkyrie" by Sebastion Koch and 2008 produced two films, "Killing Hitler: The True Story Of The Valkyrie Plot" and "Operation Valkyrie: The Stauffenberg Plot To Kill Hitler". For those interested, the word valkyrie is derived from `old horse' valkyrja (referring to the slain on the battlefield) and the verb kjósa (meaning "to choose"). Together, the words mean "chooser of the slain." A word chosen by Hitler himself. The story tells of the 1944 attempt by several High Command German Officers to asassinate Hitler and take over control of the German government. Colonel Stauffenberg led a resistance group who amanged to plant a bomb in Hitler's battlefield headquarters. The bomb went off. We all know how Hitler really died.

Now this year we have "Valkyrie" starring a host of grand actors like, Tom Wilkinson, Terrance Stamp, Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy and Eddie Izzard. Hitler is played to perfection by a lesser-known actor named David Bamber. All sport British/German accents, which helps the credibility of the story. Then we have Tom Cruise as Colonel Stauffenberg. He is horrendously and miserably miscast. The beginning of the film has a Tom Cruise sound-alike German voice speaking that tries to slowly evolve into Cruise's American voice. It's as big a bomb as the one that goes off in Hitler's bunker.

The direction by Bryan Singer is, of course, well done with first class cinematography and surround sounds of explosions and gunfire. All the acting is first rate, except for Tom Cruise who rarely raises his voice and looks meek and stoic throughout the film. I am sorry to bash Mr. Cruise, but he is just terribly miscast. He shows little emotion, drive or passion. Brad Davis in the 1990 version was excellent, showing a wide range of emotions, especially towards the plot, his companions and his family. In fact, Davis successful changes his accent even if it isn't perfect German or British.

The Singer film is perfectly adequate, but I found myself sighing every time Cruise appears on film (and not the good kind of sighing). Singer does manage to be faithful to the original story, only changing some scenes to highlight Cruise. Many of the scenes of the Stauffenberg house, the bunker in the forest and others are identical and it manages to feel like WWII Germany (it was filmed there), but the ending set-up seems contrived, even if it is true. The Stauffenberg family was imprisoned and released a few years later, something not noted in the Singer film.

If you have never heard the story, it is an amazing part of history. The supporting cast couldn't be better and Director Singer knows how to handle suspense and the horrors of war. However, Tom Cruise is simply "Risky Business" Tom Cruise in a German uniform. He is completely out of place. Enjoy the film with that warning.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Straightforward but suspenseful retelling of the plot to kill Hitler, 8 July 2009
By 
Mr. Stephen Kennedy "skenn1701a" (Doha, Qatar) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Valkyrie [DVD] (DVD)
A straightforward telling of the true life story of the last known assassination attempt on Hitler, in 1944, what this movie lacks in surprises it makes up with more than a dash of style.
A stellar cast come together, in a movie with a very traditional feel about it - non showy direction, just telling the story as it was. Tom Cruise is fine as Stauffenberg, with just enough depth to portray the level of charisma the man must surely have had to get as far as he did, and the boldness he must have had to start the whole process with as much confidence as he seems to have had. The rest of the cast is like a who's who of British cinema, reminding the viewer of the classic war movies of old. And the movie really does seem to share a gene pool with those epic war movies recreating real life movies, with the same pros and cons they had. On the plus side, the movie convinces on authenticity. Events appear close to the known facts, without too much embroidering for effect. The budget, though not overblown by today's standards, and fairly small by Cruise' standards, has enough to create some terrific set design - the planes, the settings, the real life locations, and the recreation of the wolf's lair - all help to immerse you in the story. On the minus side, the cast are all worthy, but never outstanding. It's as if they are playing their roles with kid gloves, to be as reverential as possible to people who actually existed. Perhaps with one exception - Bill Nighy portrays the films more ambiguous character, in a role which starts to flesh out some of the anguish that must have been felt building up to what amounted to High Treason. It's a performance which manages to scratch a little beneath the surface of how it would have felt, rather than the bare facts - and yet still treats the character with respect. Other than that, although well told, the movie sticks to facts and avoids any depth.
Kudos to director Bryan Singer then - he has taken a moribund genre (WW II thriller), with a story we know the ending to, and still managed to make something relatively nail biting, and certainly visually satisfying. It's just not got enough depth or originality to join the ranks of the classics.
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Valkyrie [DVD]
Valkyrie [DVD] by Bryan Singer (DVD - 2009)
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