Review: Valkyrie

United Artists

Courtesy: United Artists

Bryan Singer had  a lot of potential.

Pretty much everybody who cared enjoyed The Usual Suspects. Everybody praised his take on Marvel’s beloved gang of organized misfits in X-Men. And X2 was well-received, as well.

But he has squandered his talents on his last two films. Superman Returns? No thank you, sir. He can go back to where he came from. Spider-Man is helping us out just fine.

(Below is a tangent about Superman Returns. Feel free to skip this.)

One of the problems with Singer’s first entry in the Superman film franchise (Superman: Man of Steel has been announced for 2011) is that he made it more of an iffy love story than an action film. The movie was fine. But people do not go to see Superman get all mushy.

But let’s make this clear: It’s not really much of a love story. And let’s make this clear: The movie is a stinker. Kevin Spacey is horrifically campy, and that’s not always a good thing. Writers Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris need to quit the blockbuster film industry if this is the kind of drivel they are coming up with. A pathetic attempt at resurrecting a hero.

Spider-Man, Batman: they are real humans (at least as we know them). Superman is an alien. With a heck of a lot of superpowers (too many, if you ask me. Where’s the fun in being basically invincible?). What the kids want to see at a Superman show is bang! bang! wham! ka-pow! Not a whimper of a bang, some sentimental 1950s imagery and a bald Kevin Spacey. No. Superman was made a monster of unstoppable force so we could see him beat the bad guys up. Not worry about marriage.

In any event… (tangent over)

Valkyrie is another stinker. But disturbingly, it might be on par with Superman Returns in quality. But who knows any more. Both films are forces meant to depress; not worth anyone’s time.

As you might know, Valkyrie is about the successful assassination of one of the world’s greatest evils, Adolf Hitler. Or rather, that’s what it should have been about.

Claus Philipp Maria Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg (Tom Cruise) is the German officer leading one assassination plot against Hitler’s life. You can probably imagine the end result of their mission.

Unfortunately for Singer and company (Christopher McQuarrie and Nathan Alexander write the screenplay (and yes, this is “based on true events”)), the best portion of the film is when it seems like Hitler really is dead. Valkyrie could have been an infinitely better film if it became an alternative universe fantasy and killed Hitler off. And then the allies ride off on unicorns, etcetera, etcetera.

Cruise’s American accent is no fun when some of the Nazis have British accents, some have German accents I wouldn’t be too surprised if I went back and found a Russian accent.

Valkyrie manages to be captivating for about ten minutes. (and those ten minutes are fifteen minutes after you awake from slumber) The narrative might be more interesting if we felt some kind of compassion for the characters. But most of the audience seemed to be rooting for their deaths just as much as the head honcho Nazis.

Valkyrie will succeed in the mainstream, though. It’s all ready a mild “hit.” But don’t you worry. It won’t be invading art house cinema complexes any time soon.

This film deserves the assassination Hitler never got.

– – – – – – –

Let it be known, the below trailer is an early one. (Note the end: “Summer 2008.”)

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