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I, Robot

Valkyrie

What She said:

She

Valkyrie was released back in 2008, at the tail end of that period of time when people really thought Tom Cruise was nuts.  I mean, we all still do, but that was during the peak.  Anyway, I think that adversely affected reception of the movie, which is, for the most part a non-offensive historical thriller.

The movie tells the story of a group of German soldiers during World War II who conspire to kill Adolph Hitler and end the war.  It’s supposedly based on real events, although I had not previously heard of this.  Cruise plays Claus von Stauffenberg, a colonel in the army who leads various plots to bring down the Nazi regime.  The cast is filled out by Bill Nighy, Kenneth Branagh, Terence Stamp, and Tom Wilkinson.  One takeaway from this movie is that it’s not easy to kill Hitler, at least not with 1940s technology.  Things just didn’t go their way several times.  There’s a lot of planning, meeting, and regrouping.  It’s not boring or anything, just tough to keep up with at times.  

Brian Singer directed the movie, and it feels pretty grand.  It has nice cinematography and the sceneries show the depressing nature of the war.  I cannot help but feel there were moments of emptiness in the movie, though.  Perhaps it was feeling that maybe the characters were not adequately explored.  One interesting  note about the actors’ portrayals—I’ve heard that part of the reason why Tom Cruise played the role of von Stauffenberg was because he actually bears a deep resemblance to the real man.  But Cruise delivers his role with his normal American accent.  Meanwhile, some of the British actors chose to give their characters a German flair, while others stuck with their native accents.  It was a little strange and jarring, although not insurmountable in the grand scheme of things.

Valkyrie tells a pretty interesting story, although it’s not quite film perfection.  I’m glad that I finally gave it a chance, and I learned why the movie has its title.  It’s named after Operation Valkyrie, which was the WWII German national emergency plan to take control of the country.

Thumbs 75 percent up.

I, Robot

What he said:

He

It’s been a while since I’ve been in a classroom, and I’m not the kind of person who reads up on history for fun, so you’ll have to excuse my ignorance. I don’t know if I was never taught it or forgot, but I had no idea there was such an elaborate scheme to assassinate Hitler, and by Germans no less! Fascinating stuff! It really makes you look at the whole thing differently. I mean, you have to think that not everybody agreed with the madman who was running the country at the time, but I didn’t realize they were willing to attempt to overthrow him. That’s pretty damn ballsy. There are plenty of people in this world who are afraid to a lot less.

Tom Cruise plays Colonel Clause von Stauffenberg. Stauffenberg has recently had a few major things happen in his life. First, he was recently maimed in an air raid. Additionally, he starts to get to the point where he can’t continue serving Hitler’s Germany. He has had a revelation. He cannot sit back and watch Hitler and company continue to commit these horrible crimes against humanity. It’s good timing too, because the leadership within the German Resistance has recently been dealt a couple of blows. After a recent assassination attempt, one of the key members is arrest and the other is sent to the frontlines of the war.

I, Robot

Stauffenberg is then put in charge of this assassination effort and as a result is exposed to all kinds of paranoia, politics, and life-threatening danger that goes along with being the leader of a rebel group. One of the things he has to put up with is General Friedrich Fromm (Tom Wilkinson). Fromm was in charge of Hitler’s reserve army and the group was supposed to (unknowingly) play a part in over throwing the Nazi Party. You see, Stauffenberg and company were planning to kill Hitler, but legally use the reserve army to arrest the members of the Nazi Party. They wanted to do this clean so nobody could accuse them of being traitors; and thus negating their actions. The only problem was Fromm was kind of a bastard. He did not particularly like Hitler, but he was a survivalist. He planned on being on the winning side of the war and didn’t care who that was at all. He would show some interest in joining the resistance, but also turn his back on them in a heartbeat if he thought they were going to lose. There was also a massive amount of distrust, paranoia, and cravings of power between members of the group. People didn’t know who they could fully trust. It was pretty tense stuff.

If you have followed my reviews, you know I prefer movies that give me a sense of escapism. I have a hard time getting psyched up for dramas sometimes, but this one kept me interested. The acting is tight. There was a top-notch cast. Tom Cruise (he may be crazy, but the man can act), Bill Nighy, Kenneth Branagh, Terence Stamp, and Tom Wilkinson lead the way. The sets and costumes were awesome as well. I couldn’t tell you if every detail was historically accurate, but it sure as shit looked it to me. I found this to be a good movie about a part of history I really didn’t know much about.

Diagnosis: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on November 9, 2012.

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