December 1, 2008

Damn You, Tom Cruise


In case you have been living under a rock or hiding out with the likes of Jimmy Hoffa, Elvis and Jim Morrison (because the latter two have to be chilling somewhere other than the likes of a Midwestern Burger King), the King of Tiny has a new movie opening on Christmas Day, Valkyrie. Valkyrie is about Claus von Stauffenberg, a German officer who wanted to assassinate Hitler during World War II. Yes, I know. It sounds like cheery holiday fare, doesn't it?

Valkyrie has been plagued by ever-changing release dates. Initially the movie was to have opened this past August. Then it was shuffled to the no man's land of February 2009 (movies with little hope of recognition or money making abilities traditionally open in the usually dead January or February). Then it was moved once again to Christmas Day but (and here's the kicker) with no advance previews for critics.

Do you hear the sound of crickets? I sure do. For all the supposed chatter (which I expect originated from those voices in Tom Cruise's head) about Valkyrie being so well done, so amazing, so dramatic it has Oscar written all over it, it is highly, highly surprising (and more than just a little bit suspicious) that not one single respected critic has viewed the film. And no, Tom, your Scientology buddies don't count.

What does that mean to me? I think it means that TPTB don't have much faith in Valkyrie. They are scared. Scared that any advance crucifyings by the critics will destroy Valkyrie. After all, Valkyrie is facing some tough competition at the box office come December 25. Brad Pitt's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson's Marley and Me; Adam Sandler's Bedtime Stories; Leo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet's Revolutionary Road and Will Smith's Seven Pounds all open at or around the same time. Some curiosity seekers may fork over a ten spot to watch Tommy prance about in Nazi getup, but if the critics roast the flick prior to Christmas, would Valkyrie really be the choice?

That being said, were it not for the fact that Scientology's biggest spokeshole were helming this ship, I would be interested in seeing Valkyrie. The story itself sounds interesting. Yes, we all know that von Stauffenberg's plan failed but we also knew the Titanic would sink and look at how many tickets were sold to see that happen. I don't think knowing the outcome is going to hurt Valkyrie's chances at the box office. I think the Tom Cruise connection will.

Can we take Tom Cruise seriously as Claus von Stauffenberg? He is the only actor to not portray his character with a German accent. von Stauffenberg was German, he did speak with a German accent so why the laziness, Tom? Did Tom go back to his Born on the Fourth of July/Magnolia days and find some acting chops when portraying von Stauffenberg or did he simply rely on his smile and throw 'em some action maneuvers? Because no matter how much Tom or director Bryan Singer or anyone else at UA wants us to believe that Valkyrie is an action film, it simply isn't. Valkyrie should be an in-depth study of the horrors of war and how one man tried to eradicate the evil that was consuming his country - - not Tom Cruise putting on an eye patch and trying to convince us that is his way of really stretching as an actor and going outside the box.

I feel for Valkyrie. Bryan Singer is a talented director. The supporting cast is stellar. Claus von Stauffenberg deserves an honorable film. But I don't know that Tom Cruise is the one to deliver it - - and he may well be the one to sink it.

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