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Printed From: Official RAZZIE® Forum
Forum Name: VALKYRIE
Forum Discription: Tom Cruise as a Live-Action Version of "Fearless Leader" from BULLWINKLE...or is it Col. Klink?!?
Printed Date: April 29 2016 at 5:05pm

Topic: Reviews coming in...
Posted By: Queen_of_Toad
Subject: Reviews coming in...
Date Posted: December 20 2008 at 10:28pm

VALKYRIE, Reviewed by Nick Schager for Slant

""Vee haff to keel Hitlah!" declares German Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg (Tom Cruise) in Valkyrie, except that, thanks to director Bryan Singer's decision to forgo country-specific accents, the statement comes out in the familiar English voice of Tom Cruise. Such an approach couldn't be more ill-advised, as the result is a Deutschland-set saga in which it seems like an American actor and his band of British costars (Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Terrence Stamp, Eddie Izzard, and Tom Wilkinson) conspire during WWII to overthrow Der Führer and restore honor and dignity to the Fatherland, a situation that stymies, to the point of embarrassment, serious engagement with the breakneck espionage action.

Alas, incongruous vocal intonations aren't even the most significant problem plaguing Singer's film, what with Cruise—missing a hand and saddled with an eye patch, making him seem like a National Socialist pirate—apparently engaged in a contest against himself (and cinematic history) to see how long he can hold the same, intensely resolute expression, and the answer unfortunately turning out to be 120 minutes. Valkyrie's across-the-board miscasting (and accompanying one-note performances) doesn't do the story any favors, but then again, neither does Christopher McQuarrie and Nathan Alexander's script, which skimps on character relationships and motivations—aside from implausibly casting every other Nazi party member as a closet Hitler hater—in favor of configuring the tale as a straightforward thriller.

Stauffenberg's attempted coup might have, in theory, provided fertile ground for a character study about the struggle to reconcile duty with ideals, but it definitely isn't sturdy enough to support the filmmakers' rather conventional suspense-yarn treatment, since, given that the unsuccessful outcome of Stauffenberg's scheme is well-known from the start, the burden for generating tension is placed not on narrative mystery but merely on plot machinations. Singer's orchestration of his clandestine-bomb centerpiece is reasonably taut, yet his efficient if nondescript directorial style isn't anywhere near rousing enough to engender audience amnesia about the unavoidable failure in store—nor, ultimately, to distract attention away from his inexcusable squandering of an electric Carice van Houten, who as the perfunctory Mrs. Stauffenberg receives less time in the spotlight than her leading man's hand stump." 


German movie critics have roasted Tom Cruise’s performance as an aristocratic German officer out to kill Adolf Hitler in his World War II epic ‘Valkyrie.’

'Cruise as Stauffenberg is about as deep as a bowl of cornflakes,' said the Bild am Sonntag newspaper.
'The only thing that can definitely be said about this cinema adventure is that Tom Cruise, who has been damaged by his bizarre talk show behavior, may well continue storming the heights of the Scientology hierarchy as a thetan - but his image as an actor has been finally ruined by Valkyrie,' wrote Taggespiegel.
'If Cruise was hoping for an Oscar, he's going to be disappointed,' said Die Welt. 'His Stauffenberg is honorable and serious and firm - but Cruise's portrayal doesn't convey why this young count fascinated so many people.
'Stauffenberg was a German hero of aristocratic demeanour, and that's a dimension that Cruise totally fails to portray.'
‘Valkyrie’ has the man used to playing white-toothed, all-American heroes as Count Claus von Schenk Stauffenberg, a wounded and much decorated war hero who tries to kill Hitler and topple the Nazi state which he and his conspirators believe is dragging Germany to ruin.
In real life, the plot on July 20, 1944 failed and Stauffenberg, along with thousands of other co-conspirators, was executed.
Cruise spent much of last year in Germany making the movie, which became known as a jinxed venture.
Extras were wounded during filming, film was destroyed in a lab and had to be re-shot - and, most damningly, there was a rushed re-shoot of key scenes after test audiences fell asleep during secret screenings.

The "ZEIT", one of the big German weekly papers (its publisher is the former German cancellor Helmut Schmidt) has a review of Valkyrie. They're not too happy about and especially they don't like the lead actor much:

"Das einzige, was sich mit Sicherheit über dieses Kinoabenteuer sagen lässt: Tom Cruise, seit seinen bizarren US-Talkshow-Eskapaden schwer angeschlagen, mag zwar als Thetan weiter die Gipfel der Scientology Hierarchie stürmen, sein Image als Schauspieler aber ist durch "Operation Walküre" endgültig ruiniert. Cruise gibt – und das ist nicht der Augenklappe geschuldet, die er als kriegsversehrter Stauffenberg trägt – dem Film sein maskenhaftes Zentrum, um das herum alle schauspielerischen und sonstigen Bemühungen gespenstisch erodieren. Und diese sind durchaus beträchtlich, vom sorgfältigen Spiel der Mitverschworenen über die Kamera (Newton Tomas Sigel) bis zur geschickt auf gedämpfte Trommelwirbel und Celloklänge reduzierten Musik (John Ottman). Doch wirkt der Aufwand angesichts des steinern agierenden Hauptdarstellers nachgerade grotesk."

(Rough) translation:

The only thing what can be said for sure about this cinema adventure: Tom Cruise, since his bizarre US talkshow episodes heavily damaged, will probably storm the peek of the Scientology hirarchy as a thetan, but his image as an actor is finally ruined by "Valkyrie". Cruise gives the movie - and this not for the eye pad he wears as war injured Stauffenberg - its mask-like centre around which all acting and other efforts erode. And these are indeed considerable, starting with the accurate acting of the conspirators to the camera (NewTon Tomas Sigel) and the cleverly on muted drums and cello sounds reduced music (John Ottman). However, the entire efforts look preposterous in view of the stony acting lead actor. ?page=2

German critics slate Tom Cruise's performance in Valkyrie

Tom Cruise made an excellent sword-swishing American samurai. He even saved the Western world a few times - but he does not quite make the grade as a German war hero.

That was the first verdict of German film critics after the New York premiere of Valkyrie, the Hollywood version of one of the country's most sensitive historical episodes: the unsuccessful military plot to kill Hitler in July 1944.

It marks the end of months of nail-biting tension among German cultural commentators and historians. Would Cruise make a hash of playing Claus Schenk Count von Stauffenberg, the very model of a Good German?

Well, yes, according to Der Tages-spiegel, the Berlin daily.

"The only thing that can definitely be said about this cinema adventure is that Tom Cruise, who has been damaged by his bizarre talk-show behaviour, may well continue storming the heights of the Scientology hierarchy as a thetan, but his image as an actor has been finally ruined by Valkyrie," said the paper's critic.

Valkyrie, he concluded, would fail at the box office and miss out on the Oscars. "It doesn't dare to be popcorn cinema and at the same time lacks any conceptual brilliance."

It was always going to be difficult to please the Germans. There have been four previous German productions depicting Colonel Stauffenberg's attempt to blow up Hitler by placing a briefcase bomb next to him during a military briefing; each has depicted Stauffenberg as a near-saint, the closest the country has to a modern military hero. He acted not only out of patriotism but also as a member of an aristocratic caste whose sense of honour had been upset by SS thuggery and the incompetence of Hitler.

The Germans were sure, even before the premiere, that Cruise was not up to the job. Berthold Schenk Count von Stauffenberg, eldest son of the resistance hero - Hitler had him shot - told Cruise to go back to America. Commentators doubted that a Scientologist could ever capture Stauffenberg's spirituality. Welt am Sonntag reckoned: "Cruise as Stauffenberg is about as deep as a bowl of cornflakes."

The first notices are a little more charitable. The film, runs the consensus, is not as bad as it could have been. But Cruise, well what could you expect from Top Gun? "If you look at the long list of his credits over the past 25 years," said Hanns-Georg Rodek, the Die Welt critic, "then he comes over best as an American hero, someone who battles for respect with aggression and energy. But Stauffenberg was a German hero, with aristocratic bearing, and Cruise cannot carry that off."

The British supporting cast of Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy and Tim Wilkinson - all of whom play stiff-backed Prussian officers - manage just fine.

"His Stauffenberg is honourable and serious and determined - but why the young count managed to draw so many people in his wake is not conveyed by Cruise," Rodek writes. Cruise, quite simply, does not have what it takes to be a German aristo.

The film does not appear in Germany until January 20 and it may be that the public will take a more gentle view. Certainly the mass circulation Bildgave it a generous plug - "A cinematic monument for a German hero" - and the Oscar-winning German director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck is an enthusiast. "It should be compulsory viewing for all German schoolchildren," he said after the premiere, and there really is no greater praise in Germany than saying that something should be put on the national curriculum.

The film has been dogged by misfortune. Parts had to be reshot after they were damaged in the photo-lab. Politicians complained when Cruise wanted to use the Defence Ministry courtyard, where Stauffenberg was executed, as a film set. Eleven extras fell off a lorry and demanded millions in compensation. Perhaps that is what the critics meant when they said yesterday: "This film is Hollywood with the brakes on."


Please, forgive my poor English. It's not my native language.

Posted By: Queen_of_Toad
Date Posted: December 22 2008 at 4:23am
By Asociated Press:

"Much ado has been made about "Valkyrie," starring Tom Cruise as would-be Hitler assassin Col. Claus von Stauffenberg.

There is the release date, which has been moved around several times until finally being set for Christmas, the perfect time for a feel-good movie about killing Nazis. There's the marketing of the film: Is it a historical thriller featuring Cruise in an eye patch, or is it a straight-up action picture full of explosions? And then, of course, there is the Cruise factor itself — the fact that his very presence adds a layer of tabloid-friendly fascination.

Turns out Cruise is both the central figure in "Valkyrie" and its weakest link. He's distractingly bad in this, the iconography of his celebrity so strongly overshadowing his performance. He's just too powerfully contemporary. With his hard, flat American accent, he stands out in every single scene. And he's not a good enough actor to immerse himself in this kind of period piece, or allow us to do the same. (Then again, if he had affected a German accent — or a British one to blend in among his co-stars — he would have invited derision for that, too. Maybe the guy just can't win.)

It's too bad, too, because "Valkyrie" looks great. With its impeccable production design and German locations — including the Bendlerblock in Berlin, where Operation Valkyrie began and where members of the anti-Nazi resistance were executed after it failed — it feels substantial, never CGI-fake, and it moves fluidly. No one ever doubted the ability of Bryan Singer, director of the first two "X-Men" movies, to make a solid, energetic actioner. But — and this is going to sound like more piling on — Cruise undermines the potential of "Valkyrie" at every turn.

He's outclassed and outmatched by every member of the strong supporting cast, any of whom would have been more believable as Stauffenberg: Kenneth Branagh, Tom Wilkinson, Terence Stamp and Bill Nighy as fellow German officers, even Eddie Izzard, who's a unique and unexpected choice.

Then again, the script from Christopher McQuarrie, who won an Academy Award for writing Singer's breakthrough film "The Usual Suspects," never fully fleshes out his motivations. (Nathan Alexander is a co-writer.) Stauffenberg is depicted as a loyal but wounded army officer who loves Germany yet finds himself increasingly horrified by Adolf Hitler's rise to power.

But we never get a sense of inner conflict, of the doubt he may have felt in betraying his duties, of the fear he may have faced in putting himself and his family in danger by going through with the plan. When Stauffenberg states with clenched-jawed, hushed certitude, "We have to kill Hitler," we'll just have to take his word for it that he feels strongly about the task he's about to lead.

He joins the German Resistance for the last of several failed plots to take out Hitler, scheduled for July 20, 1944. Stauffenberg was to plant a bomb and then head a regime change known as Operation Valkyrie, based on Hitler's own emergency plan to keep the government running in case of his death.

As we all know from the start, that didn't happen — Hitler killed himself a year later — and surprisingly, Singer never generates enough suspense to make us forget that as we're watching. The whole effort feels rather smoothly detached. The actual bomb-orchestration sequence is well-staged and has a few breathless moments, but a scene that's supposed to be pivotal and poignant — when Stauffenberg reluctantly thrusts his partially amputated arm in the air and declares "Heil Hitler!" — instead comes off as laughable." - J6W6eCk3La DBIHs7wgD957PM2G0

Please, forgive my poor English. It's not my native language.

Posted By: MiguelAntilsu
Date Posted: December 22 2008 at 5:37am

I think we all get your point that the critics say "Tom Cruise gives a wooden performance in this film".

Posted By: Queen_of_Toad
Date Posted: December 22 2008 at 6:25am
But do you also get my point that AP gives Valqueerie 1 out of 4 stars? 

Please, forgive my poor English. It's not my native language.

Posted By: Michaels
Date Posted: December 22 2008 at 2:08pm

So the movie itself is safe from the Razzies, but Tommy Boy might not be?

RESPONSE from Head RAZZberry: Basically, yes -- Just before our Nominating Ballot went to press, I got word from one of our core/longerm members, who attended a screening of VALKYRIE. He insisted the movie itself was not a contender. In response, I deleted the film from multiple listings on the ballot. But then, after seeing endless TV spots featuring Cruise's deadpan/flat-lining line readings ("Hitler is the enemy of all mankind!") I restored Tom to the Worst Actor list. So far, almost every review I have read singles out Cruise as the weakest element of the movie, and the closest thing I've seen to praise for his performance was one review lauding him for being "adequate."

"Just once I want my life to be like an 80's movie ... but, no, no. John Hughes did not direct my life." ("Easy A", 2010)

Posted By: Queen_of_Toad
Date Posted: December 24 2008 at 6:57am
"Risky Business Indeed

Why the Tom Cruise bubble burst.

A worry shadows the forthcoming Tom Cruise thriller Valkyrie. The worry is that, upon seeing Cruise done up in an eye patch and Nazi jackboots—trick or treat!—audiences will laugh. This is not a high bar for the world's biggest movie star. Cruise is now 46 years old, roughly midcareer for an actor of his stature; and yet the brand has fallen so far that a throwaway summer goof, his cameo as Lev Grossman, the too-Jewish super producer of Tropic Thunder, was regarded as a "comeback." By way of contrast, when Jack Nicholson was 46, he appeared in Terms of Endearment. Nicholson's performance as retired astronaut Garrett Breedlove won him an Oscar, but more importantly, it permitted some humanity to rise up through accumulated strata of stock deviltry, and stand forth warmly. Cruise, meanwhile, gyrates in a fat suit.

In a cold balancing of assets and liabilities, it's hard to see how Cruise is on the verge of a silver-years renaissance of the kind that awaited Nicholson or, say, Paul Newman (44 for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, 48 for The Sting) or Spencer Tracy (49 for Adam's Rib, 52 for Pat and Mike). Cruise has that famous smile, of course, his boyish good trim, and a synthetic American normalcy that puts him over with audiences in Bhutan or Sri Lanka. Now think about what he lacks: humanitas, gravitas, carnality, whimsy—everything, in short, that might rise up to fill a midlife smile with feeling. Even premium Cruise, the A-game actorly actor of Born on the Fourth of July and Magnolia, who gears up a half-berserk lour when working with a directorly director, offers more of the same: bark, glare, seethe, repeat.

I can't name another American icon who has been so popular, and for so long, and yet so hard to like, and for so long. (When the studio sent the then-mostly unknown Cruise to Paul Brickman, the writer-director of Risky Business, Brickman recoiled, saying, "This guy's a killer. Let him do Amityville 3.") But note a curious fact about his career: It maps perfectly onto the 25-year bull market in stocks that, like Cruise, is starting to show its age. Nascent in the early '80s, emergent in 1983, dominant in the '90s, suspiciously resilient in the '00s, and, starting in 2005, increasingly prone to alarming meltdowns. For both Cruise and the Dow Jones, more and more leverage is required for less and less performance. Place Cruise next to Nicholson, Newman, and Tracy, and he is a riddle. Place him next to Reagan, and he is not so confounding at all.

More so than any of his contemporaries, Cruise brought to '80s cinema an aura that corresponded to the novel tonalities of Reaganism. From the counterculture nebbishes (Hoffman, Sutherland, Gould) he borrowed a certain insouciant charm. From the silent-majority fascists (Eastwood, Bronson) he borrowed a body queen's emphasis on physique. From the new Brandos (DeNiro, Pacino) he borrowed flashes of Method intensity. He measured and admixed these to create a wholly new male persona in American acting. He is the boyish hard-body, pin-neat, sleek, yip-yippily filled with self-celebration. (He is Andy Hardy, but he can beat the crap out of you.) Certain that the world will find him charming, his biggest challenge is his own dubious maturity.

The perfect apotheosis of Cruise remains Maverick in Top Gun. But before he emerged as the '80s incarnate, Cruise had to kill within himself every tendency to messiness and ambivalence. How do I know? Because before he became the '80s incarnate, Cruise played Joel Goodsen, the neurotic suburban boy of Risky Business. It is a beautiful and authentic piece of acting. To watch his performance today—and you should—is to be present again, not only at the creation of Cruise, the movie star, but at the death of Cruise, an actor bounded by normal human proportion.

Risky Business is widely misremembered as a pubescent sex farce, but it's closer in spirit to The Graduate or The Apartment than to Porky's or American Pie. Written and directed by Brickman, the movie tells the story of a high school kid from the wealthy suburbs of Chicago who turns his parents' house into a brothel. Granted, on first blush this sounds like the classic Hollywood amble of the high concept down the low road. But for an hour before the hookers show up in Glencoe, we get a loving depiction of the rich kid's last go-round with his rich kid's innocence. In the opening dream sequence, Joel happens upon a painfully sexy woman taking a shower in his own house, only to discover he is late for the SATs. Joel's life is dominated by two anxieties: his inability to get laid, and his inability to get into Princeton, his father's alma mater, for which he is at best a mediocre candidate.

What embarrasses the purveyors of Valkyrie is here the source of a captivating charm: the suspicion that Cruise can barely pull this off. Cruise's Goodsen is a vision of a teenager stranded upon the dreariness of the late '70s. Whatever enlivening power the words counterculture and youth movement once held has drained away; a status quo has reasserted itself, but without much enthusiasm. Brickman grew up in the world of preppy affluence and supplied Cruise with its look and feel. (Cruise and Brickman "would show up on the set wearing exactly the same clothes," Rebecca DeMornay, Cruise's co-star, later told Premiere. "The jeans, the sweater, the loafers. It was Tom's outfit for the movie, but it just happened to coincide with Paul's real-life wardrobe. They were both Joel, as far as I could see.") As to the source of Joel's paralysis, Brickman's script is also specific. It is not that Joel can't get laid or get into Princeton. It's that, as Joel sees it, he can't get laid and get into Princeton.

When Joel tries to knuckle down on schoolwork and extracurriculars —he is a member of his school's Future Enterpriser's club—his adolescent cravings take over. Then his shame engages. In the film's funniest set piece, Joel imagines a tryst with a baby-sitter, only to have his superego invade the fantasy. Policemen, firemen, the girl's father, and his own mother surround the house. "Alright, Goodsen, we know you're in there," brays an officer via megaphone. "Joel, the house is surrounded. Do exactly as we say, and no one gets hurt. Get off the baby-sitter." His mom grabs the megaphone, and pleads, "Please, Joel, do what they say. Get off the baby-sitter." Thanks to the internal miswiring of a WASP upbringing, Joel can't both get satisfaction and defer gratification. And then he meets Lana.

Lana is a prostitute and the movie's love interest. As played by DeMornay, she is an extraordinary creation—all hooker, no heart of gold. Joel can only marvel at her lack of conscience. "It was great the way her mind worked," he tells us. "No guilt, no doubts, no fear. None of my specialties. Just the shameless pursuit of immediate material gratification. What a capitalist!" As she goes about fleecing him bald, Lana seizes Joel out of both his virginity and his ambivalent stupor. Here Brickman wanted to tell a story of a loss. The first time Joel talks to Lana, it's over the phone. He's alone in the rambling house, in the corner of his childhood room. Booking her services for later that night, he recedes slowly into a beanbag chair and slides a catcher's mask over his face. He desperately wants to stay a child of Little League and throw-furniture forever. Hearing the honey drip-drip of her voice, he wants Lana more.

The common half-memory of Risky Business conjures up Cruise in asshole eyewear, pimping out his parents' suburban Colonial. But its distinctive pathos derives from its first half, from the nocturnal weirdscape emanating out of Joel's jumbled libido. As this Joel, Cruise allowed himself to be everything the publicity team has tried to convince us, for 25 years, he isn't: insecure, sexually confused, and as Brickman's camerawork takes no pains to hide, physically small.

We are meant to dislike—or at least, feel queasy—in the presence of the strutting superabundant charmer of the second half of the film, as he bursts forth from, and destroys, the chrysalis of Joel Goodsen. When Joel's parents go on vacation, he teams up with Lana to bring his horny friends together with her scheming colleagues, and in Joel's transformation (into a pimp, but also into Tom Cruise), we see the emergence of the '80s as the '80s. It's not just that Joel is no longer innocent; having been played by Lana, he learns how to play others. As they hand him their money, his friends still wear the jeans, the sweater, the loafers; Joel wears shades and the unconstructed jacket with the sleeves rolled up. The Man has been reborn, not as a gray flannel drone, but as a happy libertine.

At what cost? "May 5, 1966," reads a note to Joel from his grandmother, written on the day of his birth. "May your life be filled with happiness and joy." The note accompanies a savings bond, which Joel cashes to fund further misadventures with Lana. As Joel's friends discover the pleasures of Lana's colleagues, they too cash in their birthday bonds. ("You people have a lot of bonds," observes one of the hookers, dryly.) It is a perfectly calibrated act of rich-kid heedlessness but with the clever subtext that, during a time of runaway inflation (as the '70 were), it makes little sense to save for "the future." This is a word the script of Risky Business never loses a chance to deploy. The hookers say future and mean the shameless score. ("He's got such nice friends. Clean, polite … quick. I think there's a real future here.") The boys say future and mean some far off Valhalla to which they may never be invited. "I don't want to make a mistake," Joel whines to his friend Miles, his Faustian tempter, "and jeopardize my future!" "Joel, let me tell you something," replies Miles. "Every now and then say, 'What the f**k.' 'What the f**k' gives you freedom. Freedom brings opportunity. Opportunity makes your future."

The '80s did for money what the '60s did for sex. They told a miraculously tempting lie about the curative powers of disinhibition. It took AIDS, feminism, and sociobiology a while to catch up to our illusions about free love. It has taken cronyism, speculation, and manic overleveraging a while to catch up to our illusions about free money. Now that Ponzi capitalism is collapsing in on itself, the perverse disjunction, of saying "what the f**k" and thereby securing your "future," is simply no longer tenable. Risky Business tried to be clear on the fate of the homely virtues once implied by the label "conservative." Thrift, patience, deferred gratification, self-reliance—all were about to be swept aside like a cobweb, lost as pitiably as Joel's sexual innocence. But in a final irony, the logic of "what the f**k" took over the production itself. Brickman and David Geffen, the executive producer, fought over the ending, with Brickman finally agreeing to let Joel's exploits win him, improbably, a place at Princeton. Is it any wonder we remember the Wayfarers and not the catcher's mask?

"I was just thinking," muses Lana in the film's penultimate scene, done up, Ralph Lauren-style, in the faked old money duds of new privilege, "Where we might be 10 years from now." "You know what," says Joel, totally secure in his own huckster charms, "I think we're both going to make it big." Over the course of the decade, Cruise would play a pool shark, a cocktail mixer, and, of course, a cocky flyboy in a time of peace. By Top Gun, an act of pure kitsch, Cruise was wholly unshadowed by Joel Goodsen, the prudish boy of the first half of Risky Business. As a full co-production of Reaganism, Cruise helped synthesize a new personality type: neat, clean, personable, and lacking in either adult probity or the stray edge, for fear of pricking the surface of a giant bubble. But to live within "what the f**k" is to die within "what the f**k." Jerry Maguire is Maverick's idea of an adult, just as von Stauffenberg is Jerry Maguire's idea of a serious acting role. Of course audiences are tempted to laugh. The Cruise persona, like a junk bond, was never meant to reach maturity." -

Please, forgive my poor English. It's not my native language.

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