H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

 

Valkyrie [Blu-ray]

 

(Bryan Singer, 2008)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Studio:

Theatrical: United Artists

Video: 20th Century Fox / MGM

 

Disc:

Region: 'A'-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:00:20.963

Disc Size: 42,912,135,865 bytes

Feature Size: 24,676,995,072 bytes

Average Bitrate: 27.34 Mbps

Chapters: 32

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: May 19th, 2009

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 3685 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3685 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DUBs:

Dolby Digital Audio French 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Commentaries:

Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps

 

Subtitles:

English, English (SDH), Chinese (traditional and simplified), French, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, none

 

Extras:

• Commentary by Tom Cruise, Bryan Singer and Christopher McQuarrie

• Commentary by Christopher McQuarrie and Nathan Alexander

Reel Pieces with Tom Cruise and Bryan Singer recorded live at New York's 92nd Street Y (38:56 in SD)

The Valkyrie Legacy documentary by Kevin Burns (1:54:15 in HD!)

The Journey to Valkyrie featurette (15:56 in HD!)

The Road to Resistance featurette (9:08 in HD!)

The African Front Sequence featurette (7:01 in HD!)

Talking to the Air: Vintage Planes in Flight for Valkyrie featurette (7:32 in HD!)

Recreating Berlin featurette (6:51 in HD!)

 

Disc 2 - Digital Copy

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Based on a the true story of a cadre of Nazi officers who grew to oppose Hitler's murderous pursuits and made several attempts to kill him in the late stages of WWII, VALKYRIE features a top-flight cast, with drama and suspense in equal measure. The film is a stylistic departure for director Bryan Singer (X-MEN, X2) and star Tom Cruise, with a screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie (THE USUAL SUSPECTS) and Nathan Alexander that is constructed like a heist film, with a team of like-minded men coming together for a common purpose and facing incredible odds. It is 1943, and though he has come to be disgusted by Hitler's campaign of evil, Count Claus von Stauffenberg (Tom Cruise) has risen to the level of lieutenant colonel in the German army. Convinced that Hitler must die, Von Stauffenberg requests a transfer to Tunisia, where he loses his left eye and right hand during an Allied air raid. Falling in with a group of similarly disillusioned officers including Major General Henning von Tresckow (Kenneth Branagh), General Friedrich Olbricht (Bill Nighy), General Friedrich Fromm (Tom Wilkinson), and Colonel General Ludwig Beck (Terence Stamp), Stauffenberg is at the centre of several attempts on Der Fuhrer's life, culminating in a bombing that kills a handful of his officers and leaves Hitler only slightly injured.

Though advance photos of Cruise in Nazi uniform brought VALKYRIE negative publicity, his restrained performance is at the heart of this well-crafted, thinking person's action movie. He is bolstered by an incredible British cast including Branagh, Stamp, and Wilkinson, and by the film's dazzling art direction. Though it's a story to which viewers should already know the ending, Singer still creates ample suspense. The result is a taut and effective historical thriller

 

 

The Film:

There are no discernibly nasty Nazis in “Valkyrie,” though Hitler and Goebbels skulk about in a few scenes, shooting dark, ominous looks at the heroic German Army officer played by Tom Cruise. Perhaps they’re wondering what this Hollywood megastar is doing in their midst, a sentiment that you may come to share while watching Mr. Cruise — who gives a fine, typically energetic performance in a film that requires nothing more of him than a profile and vigor — strut about as one of history’s more enigmatic players.

That enigma was Claus von Stauffenberg, a count and a colonel who, though he lost one eye, an entire hand and several fingers while fighting on behalf of the Reich, made several attempts to assassinate Hitler and seize control of the government. At the core of Stauffenberg’s spectacularly ambitious plot was Valkyrie, Hitler’s plan for the mobilization of the home army that Stauffenberg hoped to hijack in order to quash the SS and its leaders. It didn’t work, of course, for complicated reasons, though also because by 1944, as William L. Shirer bluntly puts it in “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich,” the conspirators were “terribly late.”

Excerpt from Manhola Dargis at the NY Times located HERE

 

 


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.
 

The image quality of Valkyrie on Blu-ray seems competent if a small notch below what most might expect from a modern film-to-hi-def transfer. While the disc takes up 43 of the dual-layered 50 Gig space available - the feature has less than 25 what with the high-definition Burn's documentary filling over 10 and the six included featurettes all in HD. So there are a few very minor compression artifacts - colors/fleshtones seem true for the most part. Grain is visible and a bit of noise too in monochromatic black backgrounds and shadows. I don't sense manipulation like DNR or boosting and the image does have a fairly fine texture... which I like. Contrast is very good and there is some viable depth while detail is above grade for DVD but nothing overly notable for 1080P. I have no reason to believe this is not accurate to theatrical and while the feature may have benefited from a larger file size I am content with the presentation given by this Blu-ray. I enjoyed my viewing although I wasn't consistently blown away by the strength of the visuals.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

The DTS-HD Master 5.1 audio at 3685 kbps is quite excellent. Plane engines rumble in the skies with deep bass intensity and my only complaint would be that dialogue seemed a bit drowned out at times with effect noises overcoming the actors voices. The original music by John Ottman (who has also done superhero films like Fantastic Four and Singer's Superman Returns) is suitable to the film narrative - meaning I found it a bit heavy-handed at times. But the mix supports it well. There are a few subtitle and DUB options and my Momitsu informs me this releases is region 'A'-locked.

 

 

 

Extras :

The supplements are quite stacked. The two commentaries certainly cover a substantial amount of ground - I was especially interested in the historical input of writer Christopher McQuarrie. But beyond the information also imparted from Cruise, Singer and Nathan Alexander - there are some great educational featurette/documentaries. I'm sure some may find Kevin Burns', almost 2-hour, The Valkyrie Legacy, as rewarding as the feature film itself. Kevin Burns has also produced and directed a significant number of award winning documentaries including Cleopatra: The Film That Changed Hollywood, Behind the Planet of the Apes, and Empire of Dreams: The Story of The Star Wars Trilogy. Like the other featurettes - totaling 45-minutes - this is also in HD. Aside from the opening trailer and Blu-ray adverts - there is also a 38-minute SD piece; Reel Pieces with Tom Cruise and Bryan Singer recorded at New York City. Ohh, yes and there is a 2nd disc - digital copy for play on portal media devices. The Burns documentary really gives this disc package value and I recommend watching it for those even remotely keen on the topic.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
The film had some good tension but it seemed lacking somewhere. Cruise is always good. Critics complaining of the 'Hollywood factor' may have hit the nail on the head, but because of the historical appeal of the supplements - namely Burns documentary - this is still a package that should be considered on Blu-ray in my opinion. Valkyrie isn't a dud by any standards and with the supplemental material it gives decent enough value to warrant a position in the library. Temper your expectations on the feature and you may end up enjoying yourself and learning something too. 

Gary Tooze

May 9th, 2009

 

 


 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 7500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
Toshiba HD-A2 HD-DVD player (firmware upgraded)

Sony BDP-S300 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player (firmware upgraded)
Sony DVP NS5ODH SD-DVD player (region-free and HDMI)

Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

Gary W. Tooze

 

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