Then came August, and the day I sat in the theater anxious to see Brad Pitt and his mostly nameless good ol’ boys unload 60 years of pent-up Hebrew angst in a violent, shameless fashion against thousands of unsuspecting Nazis. And then the first scene came...and the Basterds were nowhere to be found. Instead we got two men, talking, for what felt like thirty minutes, about next to nothing, albeit in a witty fashion. And it was the extremely anti-climactic end to that scene that marked the end of my high hopes for the most glorious revenge flick of all time.
I’m not sure what Tarantino was thinking here. Like Pulp Fiction and nearly all of QTs flicks, we get several intertwining stories. The Basterds’ subplot, and yes, you can call it that, takes a backseat to a Jewish woman named Shoshanna’s revenge story, which is nowhere near as funny, gruesome or entertaining as that of Brad Pitt’s posse. Same goes for the "Nation's Pride" storyline, which also gets more screentime than our promised Jewish-American heroes. Meanwhile, no background or character development is given on any of the Basterds, who, in their limited screentime, are ultra-badass and riotously funny, which made me even more upset at their lack of things to do.
Everything in this flick is shot well, acted well, scored well, and of course, written to near perfection. So I must point and wag my judgmental finger toward the studio’s marketing department. Shame on them (and QT, who has more than enough clout to have a say in marketing at this point) for misleading us with the film’s title and trailers, which focus solely on the take-no-prisoners Jewish death dealers led by charismatic cigar-chomping southerner Aldo Rayne. What’s more frustrating is that Shoshanna and the Basterds have the same goal in mind, so if this chick needs to be such a massive part of this flick, why can’t they all just work together?!
Now, all that griping behind me, this is a Tarantino flick, and thus almost by default, leagues better than most anything else currently sitting on the new release shelf. The acting here is superb, notably relative unknown Christoph Waltz as the nazi Col. Landa. He and Pitt are easily the best parts of the film, but seeing as how Landa gets about triple the face time Pitt does (literally), this really is his time to shine, and he absolutely steals the show.
The action, which pokes its head out about as often as Punxsutawney Phil, is [in]gloriously fun, insanely graphic, and so darkly comic that you almost feel guilty laughing. Almost. Still, Pitt and his posse may be the Basterds, but QT and the Weinsteins are the jerks for failing to deliver a revenge flick worthy of my expectations.
“Nation’s Pride” - Full Feature (6:10) - No, QT didn’t go all Adam McKay and shoot enough footage to make an entirely separate film. Instead he had his apprentice Eli Roth tackle this baby in six minutes and ten seconds. While it's not exactly authentic 1940’s filmmaking (slow motion and such), it’s probably more action packed and funnier than anything in the movie. Definitely give this a watch.
The Making of “Nation’s Pride” (4:00) - A mockumentary that features the cast of the film staying in character, talking about the making of their propaganda film. Eli Roth plays the eccentric director. Wish they would have shot this to make it look like it was shot in the 40s, rather than being shot yesterday.
Roundtable Discussion with Tarantino, Pitt, and Elvis Mitchell (30:45) - Tarantino and Pitt sit down and heap praise on each other and discuss their process in making this film. Intellectual at times and chatty at others, but pretty interesting stuff.
The Original ‘Inglorious Basterds’ (7:39) - Damnit. Another tricky marketing ploy, this time made me think that, as the titled implied, we’d get a copy of the original Inglourious Bastards in its entirety. Instead this is more of a behind the scenes in which Eli briefly discusses the original and we are treated to the film’s sweet trailer.
A Conversation with Rod Taylor (6:43) - The longtime actor who did a cameo as Winston Churchill in the film talks about his incredible experience working for Tarantino. A great speech if you’re a QT admirer.
Rod Taylor on Victoria Bitter (3:19) - A few more minutes of Rod Taylor stories, shoulda just been combined with the last one.
Quentin Tarantino’s Camera Angel (2:42) - This feature is beyond funny if you’re a filmmaker. The crew’s saucy European (I’m assuming Italian) camera assistant shows how clever she is naming the film's [many, many] different takes. I kinda wanna marry her. (I'm a simple man folks).
Hi Sallys (2:09) - A gag reel of sorts where cast and crew say “Hi”, into the camera, to Tarantino’s longtime editor, Sally Menke.
Movie Poster Gallery Tour with Elvis Mitchell (11:00) - If this featurette sounds boring to you…it’s cuz it is. For serious film and nazi history buffs only.
Killin’ Nazis Trivia Challenge: If you’re a big fan of the film, you may dig this trivia game which quizzes you on all things Basterds. You can save your game too if you wanna finish later.
You also get a Poster Gallery, a handful of Trailers, and of course, your very own Digital Copy.
Extra Tidbit: I once very nearly ran over Quentin Tarantino with my truck in Hollywood when he prematurely started to cross the street at a traffic light. I was absolutely mortified.