Daniel’s Critical Corner: “Valkyrie”

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Ha Ha !  Look At Tom Cruise Wearing That Eyepatch !

~ Hello Everyone ~
Welcome To Daniel’s Critical Corner !
Bombing Today:  Valkyrie

There is nothing quite like Christmas Day !  The opening of presents, 
the laughter of children, and a cup of eggnog next to a glowing fire. 
And then there is the Christmas Dinner.  A grand turkey (or perhaps  
 a ham) with good wine and family.  But after your feast, what to do ? 

 You have already watched “Schindler’s List”,  and Grandma (along with
little Suzie) still wants some Nazi action…  Why settle for “The Grinch”
when everyone can have Adolph Hitler !!!  No little Suzie, I did not say
“Rudolph”.  This red nose means DEATH.  Beware !      

In “Valkyrie”, we have the multi-not talented Tom Cruise playing the
part of a Nutzi.  Er…  I mean Nazi.  I’m sorry, I just don’t like the guy. 
A long time ago I may have.  But I started to think he was a twit well
before he jumped on “Oprah”.
Let’s take “The Last Samurai” for example.  What was up with that ? 
Talk about egotistical…  Sheesh…  Cruise sports some long hair and 
   boasts he is the VERY LAST of a great Asian race of warriors.  That’s  
  akin to casting Brad Pitt as “The Last Soul Singer”.  Or maybe Reese  
Witherspoon as “The Last Geisha”.  How about Samuel L. Jackson as 
“The Last Mariachi” ?  C’mon now.  It’s just plain silly

At least in this film, he doesn’t play the last Nazi.  Just a Nazi.  A Nazi
without a German accent.  Tom is Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, who  
was injured in battle (during World War II).  He has become a one-eyed,
 one-hand, flying purple people eater.  (I just couldn’t resist).  LOL !!!  
Yes, his character does loose an eye, and also his hand.  Worst of all,
he looses his ability to seem even remotely interesting.     
All of this stuff is based on a true story…  We learn that Stauffenberg was
part of a plot to kill Hitler back in 1944.  Of course, we all know he did not 
succeed.  Unfortunately, most of the characters in this film seem to know  
 it as well…  Everyone is just so wooden and somber.  They show a range  
of “emotions” from A to B, and try their darndest to bore the heck out  
of anyone watching.


tom-cruise-valkyrie[1] by you.
All The Reich Moves


I could not believe my eyes as scene after scene took place in room after
room where Cruise and his fellow conspirators try to be as monotone as  
humanly possible…  Nothing but drab outfits and grey backdrops decorate
the screen while everyone seems to be reading cold from a history book !  
A waste of talent if you ask me…  Actors such as Terence Stamp (one of
the bad guys in sparkle-tights from “Superman II”) and Kenneth Branagh
are just squandered on this dull tripe.

OK, so as for the plot, Tom is bummed out that he is missing an eyeball…
And with his one “apt pupil”, he can see that Germany is losing the war.
What’s a guy to do ?  Well, assassinating Hitler seems like a good place to
start…  And I guess back then, EVERYONE wanted to murder the Fuhrer !

Now, it seems to me a dangerous business to try to kill Hitler.  But the
heroes in this movie make it rather obvious what they are trying to do.
Despite putting their lives (as well as the lives of their wives and kids)
in mortal peril, these guys seem to be brazen about the entire affair. 

  For example, when Stauffenberg is interviewing for a new assistant, he 
freely tells a complete stranger that he is looking to kill Germany’s leader
and commit high treason.  “Are you in?”, he asks the young man.  Lucky 
for Stauffenberg, the applicant replies with something like, “Heck yea
dude, let’s kill Hitler…  Sweet!” 

Then, the Colonel points to a painting of Hitler and says “Right now, his 
  portrait hangs on the wall, but soon it is the man who shall be hung”.   
Ha Ha ! What are they going to do ?  Send Hitler a penis pump ?  Didn’t
Tom or director Bryan Singer notice that line sounded a little “strange” ?

At one point, all of the would-be assassins have a “super secret” meeting
at someone’s house.  They have milk and cookies, and discuss what they
will soon call operation “Valkyrie”…  During his first visit, Col. Stauffenberg
speaks up almost right away and points out some flaws.  The group leader
looks shocked and asks everyone, “Who is this man?”  Apparently, during
such gatherings, no one is introduced and anyone can show up.


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Time To Activate The Cruise Control !

 Odd as it may sound, the only character that seems to have an ounce of
personality is Adolph Hitler.  He actually is entertaining, but for the wrong
reasons…  Actor David Bamber goes a little overboard with his attempt at
the evil dictator, and seems to be channeling Bela Lugosi’s “Dracula” more
than anything !  He menaces towards people, with one hand reaching out
just a little farther than the other and he looks at people with his eyes off
to the side.  I kept waiting for him to say “I never drink wine”.

Another thing that grabbed my attention was cigarette dropping…  Many
different characters, (some just extras dressed up as soldiers) managed to
drop their cigarettes and subsequently grind them out with their feet.  This
happens three or four times….  Near the end, one guy has a cigarette in his
hand, and he throws it off a balcony !  To my surprise, he did NOT stomp it
out, but he did drop the thing.  I think that’s what attracted Tom Cruise to
this project.  People dropping cigarettes.  

This film could have really been awesome.  It could have shown us what
life was really like in 1940’s Germany.  No culture to be seen here at all. 
I can get a better flavor for Germany by going over to Wienerschnitzel 
and ordering some kraut.  

Believe it or not, Mr. Cruise doesn’t ruin this flick (even though he tries).  
We are given an interesting premise which is played just a little too safe !

Go see that dog movie this Christmas and skip “Valkyrie”.  It’s nazi-ating.


Would I Recommend This ?  No

Daniel’s Critical Rating:  “3.5” out of “10”



Daniel’s Critical Corner: “Australia”

Crocodile And Dundee

~ Hello Everyone ~
Welcome To Daniel’s Critical Corner !
Crawling Out From “Down Under” Today:

A trip to a nursing home can be either inspiring or heartbreaking.
I guess it can go both ways…  But my visit to one the other day
was sort of “in the middle”.  The residents were a coherent but 
mellow group.

There was the cute little old lady clutching her box of sour lemon
candy.  She was telling her (probably sixth) husband that it only
cost a dollar with her rewards coupon…  And then there was this
 rather elderly gentleman leaning on his cane.  He was attempting
 to impress the happy couple by bragging about his free popcorn.

Other oldies managed to trickle into the place sporadically, a few 
of them wearing Christmas sweaters, others sporting fedoras and
such…   It actually looked like church !  They all took their seats,
getting ready to see a motion picture together.  Not a cell phone 
to be found among them !  Such a nice, quiet group.  There were
some soft noises, sure.  Two, maybe three oxygen tanks hissing. 
Involuntary flatulence.  I even heard somone’s arteries harden… 
Aside from that, nada !

Whoops !!!  Did I say I was at a nursing home ?  I meant to tell you
I was at the local movie theater on “senior discount” Monday !  We
were all there to see “Australia” !!!  As a wrinkled patron later told 
me, it was a lovely way to spend an afternoon !

That’s debatable.  It ate up my ENTIRE day, and (with a run time of
 almost three hours) I think a couple of mummified moviegoers expired
where they sat !  When the credits FINALLY started to roll, most of
 the group got up to the best of their ability and hobbled out…  But  
a couple of ’em did not. They just sat there, motionless.  I decided
it was best just to keep moving and not look back.

Truth be told, I’m always leery of a movie that has a continent in
the title.  Did anyone see “I Dreamed of Africa” ? That was a total
 NIGHTMARE !!!  Some chick decides to take her little son to (of all
places) Africa, and live in the middle of nowhere…  She shacks up
with some hunter dude, but it isn’t long before her poor child gets
gobbled up by a snake !  Oh well.  They should have just stayed  
“Out of Africa”.  Ha !!!  Let’s move on to Australia now, shall we ?


Palin[2] by you.

 Australia ?  What On Earth Is That ?  A Drink ?


   “Australia” starts on a rather odd note.  A young boy with messy
hair is talking absolute rubbish.  Something about his grandfather
being a king and that people who herd cattle are bad.  We soon 
learn this brat is “aboriginal”.  Speaking of “Abba Originals”, I am 
just DYING to see “Mama Mia!” again.  But that’s another story.  

The kid is called (of all things) “Creamy”.  Who the heck came
up with that silly name ?   Michael Jackson ?  Folgers Coffee ?

Our tale is set in 1939 (which, if nothing else, was a red-letter
year for cinema) ! Young Creamy and his mother are working on
 an Australian cattle station, where all is bliss until Nicole Kidman
shows up. 

Kidman plays “Lady Sarah Ashley”, a woman of privilege whose
husband owns the station.  Upon her arrival, Ashley’s spouse is
murdered…  Just as she uncovers a plot by an evil cattle baron 
looking to gain a monopoly over the beef industry !

 Speaking of beef, a burly cattle man known only as “The Drover”
(played by Hugh Jackman) comes to her aide.  Despite obvious 
dangers, they decide to take over her dead hubby’s legacy and 
drive the cattle…  INSANE.


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 A Huge Jack, Man !


 Lady Ashley moans and groans about how awful the country is.
But soon, The Drover shows her how to find true beauty in the 
 rugged terrain.  At one point, the delicate doll sees a Kangaroo 
and gets totally excited…  The next thing you know, one of her 
hired hands blows the beast away with a shotgun (followed by  
a scene where everyone eats it with fervor).

I could never eat a kangaroo.  They are just too darn cute !
  Hmmm…  Well, I suppose if I were stranded on a desert island,
with nothing but a kangaroo, I would probably start chowing
down on that juicy jumper !!!  (Slathering it up with plenty of
ketchup while wearing the little pouch as some sort of hat).

Kangaroos aside, there isn’t much going on to let us know we
are in Australia.  No boomerangs.  No cuddly koala bears.  No
giant kazoos (or whatever those things are called).  Worst of
all, no one really says “G’day mate” much…  Granted, we are  
treated to some old naked dude doing a “walkabout”.  

And THAT was enough to make me just wanna walkaout !  

 Nicole Kidman’s performance seems really forced in this flick,
and Hugh just prances around shirtless desperately trying to
get voted “Sexiest Man Alive”.  There isn’t much in the way 
 of chemistry between those two anyway, with a dry attempt
at romance failing to light up the big screen.

One evening they are watching shooting stars while kissing 
under a boab tree…  But nothing “magical” happens.  Hugh 
scores (maybe a handful) of boab and then calls it a night !

Some scenes do manage to evoke a “Gone with the Wind”  
 kind of vibe, while others emulate “The Wizard of Oz”.  To 
be fair, I will say this is because of some rather effective

“Oz” (is indeed) a continuing theme throughout the film !!!  
Kudos to director  “Buzz Lightyear”  !  Um…   Ugh.  I mean
to director  “Fuzz Lemur”.  No ?  I think I’m getting closer. 
Oh !  I got it,  “Baz Luhrmann” !

 Regardless, “Australia” gets lost in its own decadence.  A  
beautiful epic, make no mistake.  There are so many vast, 
 sweeping vistas that this movie could be the straight man’s
“Brokeback Mountain”…  Complete with a TENT !!!  
But eye candy as this may be, it is way toooo long.  The  
story wraps up nicely after about two hours, only to start 
again with a half-hearted gusto…  Our final outcome is still 
the same, with no real or viable reasons to keep plodding 

Let’s just take “Australia” outback…  And leave it there.


Would I Recommend This ?  No
Daniel’s Critical Rating: “6” out of “10”