Review: Inglourious Basterds
PLOT: Quentin Tarantino's long awaited WW2 epic, concerning a group of Jewish-American soldiers- who parachute into France to wreak havoc on the Nazis.
REVIEW: F**k I loved this movie! It`s exactly as kick-ass as I hoped a war epic directed by Quentin Tarantino would be. I'll be honest- I had my doubts about whether or not it would deliver. I read the script last year, and while it was good, I wasn't sure if it would make for a good "war film" as it's pretty far out, and fantastic. Also the word from the Cannes premiere wasn't the most enthusiastic, although that didn't worry me too much, as Tarantino always makes movies that divide audiences- and INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS is no different. You either go with it, or you don't, and judging from the rapturous response it got at the Fantasia Film Fest, where it made it's Canadian premiere, more people will love it than hate it.
That said, it's an extremely unconventional film, and the ads certainly aren't doing the film any favors. It's being sold as a HARDCORE WW2 action-adventure film starring Brad Pitt, and while at times it's exactly that, Brad Pitt & the BASTERDS are really just part of an ensemble, although you wouldn't know that from watching the trailer.
Pitt is great as Aldo Raine. I know a lot of people choked when he was announced for the role, but I honestly never understood why. Sure, he's a handsome Hollywood megastar, but he's also the kick ass character actor who made SE7EN, FIGHT CLUB, and SNATCH. His work here has a lot more in common with those films than it does with LEGENDS OF THE FALL, films of that ilk and I honestly could not imagine a better choice for the role.
However, Brad Pitt is not the star of the film. There really is no clear cut lead, and several of the other actors have just as much screentime as Pitt. One might argue that the real lead is in fact French actress Melanie Laurent, who plays Shoshanna Dreyfus, a young Jew who escapes the clutches of SS Col. Hans Landa aka The Jew Hunter (played by Christoph Waltz who's a revelation, and a shoo-in for a best supporting actor Oscar nod). In a way, I think Tarantino's heart was really with her character, as she's the one with the real arc (and also has a show stopping sequence set to David Bowie's "Cat People (Putting out Fire)"). I also LOVED Til Schweiger as German Basterd, Hugo Stiglitz, who's so bad ass, he has a wanking guitar theme play every-time he does something cool. HOSTEL director Eli Roth was also extremely memorable as Donnie Donowitz a.k.a The Bear Jew, who likes bashing in Nazi skulls with his baseball bat (Roth also directed the hilarious film within the film, NATION`S PRIDE, which is a faux Nazi propaganda movie starring one of the characters in the film).
I could really go on and on about the cast, as it's huge, and everyone- from Diane Kruger, to Mike Myers (who pops up in an amusing cameo) is spot on. Hell, one of my favorite sixties actors, Rod Taylor (THE TIME MACHINE, and the sadly not out on DVD, DARK OF THE SUN) even pops up as Winston Churchill.
Casting aside, another striking thing about the film was the use of music. Of course, Tarantino always puts together a great soundtrack, but this really takes the cake, with loads of great Ennio Morricone tracks playing throughout (in addition to some more unconventional but memorable choices like the theme to the Sammo Hung martial arts epic EASTERN CONDORS, and Billy Preston`s blaxploitation theme song "Slaughter."
As much as I loved the film, there will be people that will nowhere near as keen on it as I am. If you go in expecting SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, you're bound to hate it. If you think this is going to be a WW2 KILL BILL, you`ll hate it even more, as it`s nowhere near as action packed as that film (although this works in the film`s favor, as the action scenes tend to come on suddenly, and when they do, they hit harder than anything I've seen lately). If you want to know where Tarantino gets his inspiration from, check out some sixties and seventies, Italian WW2 flicks. There`s loads of them, and Tarantino even pinched his title from one of them (the director of that film, Enzo G. Castellari even has a cameo).
Others will also claim the film is too long, and, at over 150 minutes, the film definitely is on the lengthy side, although compared to TRANSFORMERS 2, which had the same running time, this speeds along like a freight train. Heck, my only problem with the film is that it actually feels a little rushed towards the end, but I`m sure there`s loads of stuff on the cutting room floor, and I hope someday we get a directors cut (although I won`t hold my breath, as I`m still waiting for KILL BILL: THE WHOLE BLOODY AFFAIR to come out).
I really can`t wait to see INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS again, as I haven`t been this energized by a film in some time. I`m sure a lot of readers will think I`m just a gushing fan boy when reading this, and to an extent- you`re right. Tarantino is the man, however- he`s not infallible, and if the film didn`t hold up to his high standards, I`d say so. Like many of you, I thought DEATH PROOF, while overall still a good movie, was a tad self-indulgent, but this really is a return to form for QT. It`s a great flick.