Valkyrie—MGM (Blu-ray)

Video: 4.5/5
Audio: 4.5/5
Extras: 4.25/5

Based on the incredible true story of Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg and his ingenious assassination plot targeting Adolph Hitler, this engrossing thriller reenacts the daring operation to eliminate one of the most evil tyrants the world has ever known.

Valkyrie is entertaining and informative, but it could have been so much more. The direction by Bryan Singer is adequate, but the strange casting decisions include star Tom Cruise, who is a spitting image of the real Stauffenberg but speaks with an American accent. Throw in the preponderance of British actors including Bill Nighy as General Olbricht and Tom Wilkinson as General Fromm, and there isn't a German accent to be found. Everyone does an admirable job, but I think the production would have been better served by lowering the budget and using German-speaking actors to add authenticity to the film.

Singer and cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel chose to use a lot of yellow filters to give the film an authentic look, and their work is captured marvelously by the 1080p AVC encode. When the film opens in North Africa, the dry, dusty climate had me reaching for water to quench my thirst thanks to the striking detail. Throughout the rest of the film, uniforms have realistic texture, and fine objects are well-resolved, especially in close-ups.

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack is outstanding with first-rate frequency response—especially on the low-end. The infrasonic bass is to die for, such as when the Stauffenberg family descends into their basement during an allied air raid and the bombs shake the roof and rattle the windows. The track also features superior panning effects with cars and planes moving to and fro. Not to be left out is the dialog, which is always intelligible.

In addition to a digital copy of the film on a separate DVD, the BD50 is loaded with bonus features, including two separate feature-length audio commentaries, a slew of behind-the-scenes featurettes (most in HD), and a phenomenal 114-minute documentary, "The Valkyrie Legacy" by Kevin Burns, which is the best supplement I've seen on any Blu-ray in a long time. In it, Burns chronicles the rise of Hitler and how the actions of Stauffenberg and company gave the world a different vision of Germans after WWII.

I was certainly entertained by the story, but a lot of the details had to be scrapped in order to keep the pacing alive. I really enjoyed the in-depth documentary, which fills in a lot of the gaps, but the subject matter would have been better served as a mini-series featuring German actors. Regardless, the presentation is outstanding and worth a look.

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