Inglourious Basterds Review

by Ed Lau on August 31, 2009

Inglourious Basterds

If you are looking for historical accuracy or correct spelling, I suggest you look elsewhere. Instead, if you are looking rich, calculated characters accentuated by the performances of the actors playing them as well as an absolutely brilliant, complex script that keeps you entertained for the entire two and a half hours you’re sitting in the theater, look no further than Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds.

Of course, there are those that are going to be skeptical about the film as people might be about many Tarantino movies. Some have dismissed it as an ultra-violent bulletfest while others think that if they’ve seen one movie about World War II, they’ve probably seen them all. If you fall into either category, let me tell you this: there actually isn’t very much action in this movie at all…and it’s only set in World War II. It isn’t about World War II.

Tarantino has a knack for making characters that are bigger than the movie without, strangely, making the movie about the characters. While you’d expect that the plot would probably take a backseat to the detailed roles here but strangely, that isn’t true either. Neither the characters nor the plot could exist without the other being equally strong. The other mystery is that we get so much out of each of the characters here while the stars actually receive very little screen time at all. Headliner Brad Pitt only shows up for two and a half of the movie’s five acts, for example.

Inglourious Basterds, Hans Landa, Christoph Waltz

The movie opens in a picturesque Nazi-occupied French countryside as Nazi soldiers close in on a small dairy farm, where the French farmer is suspected of harboring Jews. This is the first we see of Col. Hans Landa, played to an evil perfection by Christoph Waltz. We see more of Landa in subsequent acts (like Pitt, he’s absent for two) but his character is defined quickly. Within minutes of setting foot in the Frenchman’s house, Landa shows us he is polite, well-mannered and fluent in much more than his native tongue. Despite the fact that he gives us little reason to fear him, Landa is frightening. He shows us exactly how much we should be scared of him in the act’s climax but Waltz manages to do so with nothing but subtle inflection and suggestion throughout the scene. He is intense without being obvious and the tension he creates is mind-blowing. An amazing, Best Actor Oscar-worthy performance.

Inglourious Basterds, Melanie Laurent, Shosanna, Emanuelle

We find one of the Jews in hiding, a young girl named Shosanna, played by Melanie Laurent, in France years later, running a small cinema. She has a revenge plot handed to her when a Nazi sniper hero flirts with her and convinces Joseph Goebbels to premier his film in her theater, an event where much of the Nazi high command will congregate. Laurent plays her cold and focused, a result of the tragedy that has changed her life. I should also mention that she is absolutely stunning in her svelte red dress and red lipstick, dangling a lit cigarette.

Inglourious Basterds, Brad Pitt, Eli Roth

Pitt plays the third of the three main roles in Basterds, Lt. Aldo Raine, leader of a “Dirty Dozen”-esque squad of American Jews who’s sole purpose is to be “cruel to the German”. The man wants his scalps and they are to provide him with said scalps. Strangely, Pitt is the film’s comic relief and his dialogue is hilarious even though he is probably being entirely serious. He produces one of the film’s funniest scenes as he demonstrates his fluency in the Italian language.

As I mentioned before, there is actually very little action in this film. The scenes of bullets flying and blood splattering are visceral but brief. However, perhaps action isn’t the best word to use here. The action isn’t defined through movements but rather by the dialogue. The verbal sparring between the film’s characters carefully paints tension in each scene, tension that exceeds the majority of firefights in more strictly defined action movies. The film’s score is also well done, coming in at the right times to assist the scenes.

Inglourious Basterds

Inglourious Basterds will go down as one of my favorite movies and probably my favorite of any of Tarantino’s. Better than Reservoir Dogs, better than Kill Bill and probably only matched by his previous greatest, Pulp Fiction. There are no dull moments here and while some may be put off by the amount of subtitles, those that can read quickly will be rewarded. This is a robust, detailed and most of all, extremely entertaining movie. I can give it nothing but the highest recommendation.

Verdict: 10 out of 10

in Entertainment

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael Kwan August 31, 2009 at 8:48 pm

Wow, 10 out of 10? It’s really that good?

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Ed Lau September 1, 2009 at 5:56 am
Lesley September 1, 2009 at 11:45 am

The only problem I had with this movie was that it was TOO reminiscent of Kill Bill. Title cards, oddly abrupt soundtracks, female heroine willing to go to whatever end it is to achieve her goal… You’re absolutely right about Watlz, though.

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Make money And blogging tips September 2, 2009 at 9:33 pm

nice movie . i will wait this in my country

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Sue | Used Cars September 2, 2009 at 11:06 pm

Hi there Ed hope you are keeping well, I actually saw this on E on line yesterday and how Quentin Tarantino, was going on about how he wrote this movie just for Brad Pitt and so one and this really does look like a great movie can’t wait for its release in South Africa, I really going to go see it.

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