Valkyrie (2008)

Director: Bryan Singer

Writer: Christopher McQuarrie, Nathan Alexander (Screenplay)

Starring: Tom Cruise, Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Carice van Houten, Thomas Kretschmann, Terrence Stamp

 

Plot: A dramatization of the 20 July assassination and political coup plot by desperate renegade German Army officers against Hitler during World War II.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good War Thriller

 

Story: Valkyrie starts in the middle of World War II, outspoken German Colonel Claus Stauffenberg (Cruise) is assigned duty in Tunisia where he gets injured. Back in German Major General Henning von Tresckow (Branagh) has been working on a plan to assassinate Hitler and ending the war.

When Henning’s latest choice fails, he gets his fellow General Friedrich Olbricht (Nighy) to recruit a new member to this secret group and Claus is that man. We follow as the plan to assassinate Hitler comes together with espionage between the ranking officers, secret meetings and changes in potential candidates.  

 

Thoughts on Valkyrie

 

Characters/PerformanceColonel Claus von Stauffenberg is the soldier injured during the war and now he is the man with the plan to assassinate Hitler. Major General Henning von Tresckow is the officer that brings Claus into the circle as he wants to find the end of the war. General Friedrich Olbricht is the handler of Claus in the ranking side of things but off the books he must follow the instructions of Claus. The characters are all based on real people all involved in the real assassination attempt on Hitler.

Performance wise, well first we need to address that this is an English-speaking movie about what is happening within German during the war so we need to look past that when judging these performances of Tom Cruise who is good showing he can do serious movies over action sequences. Nighy, Branagh and Wilkinson are all great through the film as are the rest of the cast.

StoryThis is a look at a moment in history that many people don’t know about, we all know how World War II went and the bigger events, but looking at the story of a revolution within the German army to stop Hitler ending the war. The amount of people that would risk their lives to stop Hitler but the weak point here is we know the truth that it failed.

History/War Looking in the history of World War II we get to learn about a smaller detail which get covered up because they were failed missions to end the war and this gives us that story.

SettingsEach setting shows us the image of war time Germany with little issues with the look of the sets.

Final ThoughtsNice look into history about a moment that could have changed the end of the war forever.

 

Overall: Historical film that does show us a moment of great risk that ended in failure.

Rating

 

 

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Jakob the Liar (1999)

Director: Peter Kassovitz

Writer: Peter Kassovitz, Didier Decoin (Screenplay) Jurek Becker (Novel)

Starring: Robin Williams, Hannah Taylor Gordon, Bob Balaban, Alan Arkin, Liev Schreiber

 

Plot: In 1944 Poland, a Jewish shop keeper named Jakob is summoned to ghetto headquarters after being caught out near curfew. While waiting for the German Kommondant, Jakob overhears a German radio broadcast about Russian troop movements. Returned to the ghetto, the shopkeeper shares his information with a friend and then rumors fly that there is a secret radio within the ghetto. Jakob uses the chance to spread hope throughout the ghetto by continuing to tell favorable tales of information from “his secret radio.” Jakob, however, has a real secret in that he is hiding a young Jewish girl who escaped from a camp transport train. A rather uplifting and slightly humorous film about World War II Jewish Ghetto life.


Tagline –  He will make you believe.

Runtime: 2 Hours

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Strong, but Not Impactful Enough

 

Story: Jakob the Liar starts in Poland and the Jewish ghetto during World War II, Jakob (Williams) a pancake salesman is trying to avoid the curfew and while being accused of failing to follow the instruction he over hears the radio announcing the Russians are coming, he saves a young girl Lina (Gordon) the world spreads around the ghetto that the Russians are coming with Jakob giving them hope.

As the stories continue to grow Jakob learns he can no longer tell the truth because it will only leave the people with no hope and if he continues his lies he will give them false hope which might put the lives of fellow residents at risk.

 

Thoughts on Jakob the Liar

 

Characters – Jakob is one of the Jews confined the ghettos in Poland during World War II, he keeps his head down with his connection, until one day he makes the story up of hearing the Russians are coming which lifts the moral in the ghetto, only for everyone there wanting to listen to his radio, the one he doesn’t have, but he can’t tell the truth because it will bring back the suicides in the ghetto. The rest of the character we meet are the residents of the ghetto and a young girl Lina that has escaped the transport trains, they all see hope in Jakob’s stories.

PerformancesRobin Williams in the leading role does nail the accent, get his moments of humour and heart, but sadly it is hard to take the film seriously when you are waiting for a laugh even for the sensitive subject. The rest of the cast are good even if we are turning to Robin slightly too much through the film.

StoryThe story is a difficult one to watch with a humorous tone because it was a horrendous time in history, we know what happened to the Jews and how they were forced to live. Now saying this, how the Jews were given hope from the stories of Jakob does help the hellish life they were living through, but watching things get out of control does play into the what makes the story interesting to watch. This is a story that doesn’t balance the sensitive subject very well though which disappoints.

WarThe film is set in the war time, we get to see the conditions Jews were forced to live through for the most part, but not the conflict.

SettingsThe settings do make us believe we are there with the victims of the time which can be hard to watch like always.


Scene of the Movie –
Battling what to do.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is too humorous in places.

Final ThoughtsThis is an interesting idea for the how Jews would try to improve moral in a difficult time, but end sup being too humorous for the subject matter.

 

Overall: Not on the leave of the best holocaust movies.

Rating

 

 

Uncommon Valor (1983)

Director: Ted Kotcheff

Writer: Joe Gayton (Screenplay)

Starring: Gene Hackman, Robert Stack, Fred Ward, Reb Brown, Patrick Swayze, Harold Sylvester

 

Plot: Ten years after his son went M.I.A. in Vietnam, U.S. Marine retired Colonel Jason Rhodes assembles a private rescue team to find Americans held in P.O.W. camps in Laos.


Tagline – Seven men with one thing in common.

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good War Movie

 

Story: Uncommon Valor starts when Col Jason Rhodes (Hackman) recruits for Vietnam soldiers Wilkes (Ward), Blaster (Brown), Sailor (Cobb), Johnson (Sylvester), Charts (Thomerson) and son of a mission in action soldier Kevin Scott (Swayze) to go on a mission in Laos, to free the soldiers in a prisoner of war camp believed to be controlled by the former Vietnamese soldiers.

First he must get them back into shape, before taking them on this mission which could break the bonds that are being rebuilt between the countries and go against the men’s wishes. This is a life or death mission that could be for the right reasons, but deadly for those involve.

 

Thoughts on Uncommon Valor

 

Characters – Col Jason Rhodes had to eave his son in Vietnam while escaping the enemy, never giving up hope of finding his son alive, her learns of a prisoner of war camp and puts together a team to rescue those prisoners and return them to his family, what is a broken man inside but a determined one on the outside we have a leader that will put this team together. Wilkes is the member of the team, still suffering from the nightmares of what happened to him, maybe the deadliest member of the unit, he will be the one to watch out for through the film, the rest of the unit have their strengths and weaknesses which helps bring them together to be the full unit.

PerformancesGene Hackman was always a brilliant choice in a leading role, this is no different because he can control the people well, while also being able to show of his strengths as an actor. Fred Ward shows us a great performance in his supporting role, while Patrick Swayze comes well in this film, he is the rookie character and working in this role we see his strengths too.

StoryThe story came out when people were still feeling the effects from the Vietnam war, American families were not complete and loved ones were still unaccounted for, this story shows us just how far soldiers would go for a loved one with the unit they were close to during the war. While the story is good it does play into what you will expect with an American group of soldiers being better than anyone else, which entertains throughout.

Action/WarThe action is mostly saved for the finally, which does feel safe with everything and is filled with war themed battle going on.

SettingsThe film keeps us in a couple of locations, first the training camp to prepare for the battle, then the mission to the location before the final battle, this works for the film, we don’t need to see more or less from the settings.


Scene of the Movie –
Final battle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is more of America to the rescue.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good war film that plays everything safe and makes us believe that the war wasn’t over on the first date believed, it was the prisoners of war that still needed rescuing from the impending fates.

 

Overall: War fans will enjoy this one.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – R – Red Cliff (2008)

Director: John Woo

Writer: John Woo, Khan Chan, Cheng Kuo, Heyu Sheng (Screenplay) Guanzhong Luo (Novel)

Starring: Tony Leung, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Fengyi Zhang, Chen Chang, Wei Zhao, Jun Hu

 

Plot: The first chapter of a two-part story centered on a battle fought in China’s Three Kingdoms period (220-280 A.D.).

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Spectacular Battles but Hard to Follow

 

Story: Red Cliff starts in the year 220 A.D. with Sun Quan (Chang) sending his army lead by General Cao Cao (Zhang) to defeat the southlands to create a peace within China. The other sides of the battle come from Zhuge Liang (Kaneshiro) who joins a union with Zhou Yu (Leung) to stop this battle from taking over the country.

As the battle rages on we come to the final showdown as the Red Cliff, one of the most famous battles in Chinese history and if you don’t know history you will be left wondering who won.

 

Thoughts on Red Cliff

 

Characters – Zhou Yu is a great warrior that eliminates any enemy that comes close to threatening him. Zhuge Liang is the calm tactical leader that brings two sides together in battle to stop the general. Cao Cao is the general trying to win the battle against the Southlands, he is aggressive in his tactics which would eventually be his weakness.

PerformanceThe performance from the whole cast are good throughout the film, we get to see the combat skills from some of the cast and their abilities to look like the calmest person in the room in other.

StoryThe story is focused on one of the greatest battles in Chinese history, it bought change to the nation and most importantly showed how organised and deadly the three sides of the battle were. If I am honest I did find this hard to follow as I haven’t done much in research into Chinese history but other than that if you just look to watch the battle sequences this is a visual over storytelling experience.

Action/History/WarThe action is the highlight of this film because the sequences are amazing to watch, we do get to look into history which is fine with the war side of the film showing us just how far the three sides would go for victory.

SettingsThe settings are mostly military based as we see both sides prepare for the battle around the iconic location of Red Cliff.

Special EffectsThe effects are used to show in the increased number in battles which looks great through the film.

Scene of the Movie – The arrows on the river.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It was hard to follow at times.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good action packed historical film but it does drift into the land of hard to follow at other times.

 

Overall: Breath taking battles but difficult storyline.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – O – Operation Chromite (2016)

Director: John H Lee

Writer: Man-Hee Lee (Screenplay) John H Lee, Sean Dulake (English Dialogue)

Starring: Jung-jae Lee, Liam Neeson, Beom-su Lee, Matthre Darcy, Sean Dulake, Jun-ho Jeong, Se-Yeon Jin, Justin Rupple

 

Plot: A squad of soldiers fight in the Korean War’s crucial Battle of Incheon.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good Little History Lesson

 

Story: Operation Chromite starts as UN Commander a Chief Douglas MacArthur (Neeson) putting South Korean soldiers led by Jang Hak-soo (Jung-jae Lee) undercover to work with the North Korean General Lim Gye-jin (Beom-su Lee) to learn the best way to attack Incheon one of the most difficult location to provide an invasion on, against the wishes of the other military beliefs.

We follow how the mission to get the plans out unfolds as MacArthur does everything to keep power in the UN to make this operation one of his most memorable and iconic success of his career.

 

Thoughts on Operation Chromite

 

Characters – Jang Hak-soo is the South Korean spy that after the war agrees to help the Americans destroy the North Korean reign of terror. He leads his men well with honour and won’t leave them behind. Lim Gye-jin is the man trying to protect Incheon from the invasion, he will kill any traitors that get to close as he is ready for the battle that is heading his way. Douglas MacArthur is the man holding the mission Chromite, one of the most iconic Generals in American history and now he looks to defeat the Koreans in a way no one would expect.

PerformanceThe performances from the whole cast are good through the film, be it from the Korean side of the battle or the American.

StoryThe story shows us how Operation Chromite was completed, while you do feel moments of this are fictionalised the main story does seem to feel true. We get to see how the men risk their own lives to make this happen in one of the most ambitious military moves of all time. This does have the emotion when it comes to see the sacrifices made but does also fall into the problem of if it was based on the real events how do we know what these people were doing at that time.

Action/History/WarThe action is very entertaining, being big in most places with close gun fire or war scale battles, the history lesson learnt does feel like building on the facts which is of one of the biggest war operations of all time

SettingsThe settings all come off looking genuine through the film as we see the different battle fronts that the men come up against.

Scene of the Movie – Take the hostage.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It doesn’t feel completely accurate.

Final ThoughtsThis is a watchable war movie that tackles the serious side of the events even if things do come off slightly fictionalised.

 

Overall: Good war film.

Rating