Originally Written – 2/8/2010
If there’s any sort of certainty in the world, the fact that Quentin Tarantino loves himself some genres should be one of them. From the Lee Marvin-esqe tough guy films like Reservoir Dogs to the 70’s blackpoilation genre shown in Jackie Brown to the kung fu epic Kill Bill, Tarantino has always made homage films about the movies he grew up with.
At first look, Inglorious Basterds looks like more of the same; a group of underground Jewish soldiers stationed deep within German occupied France whose sole mission is to kill as many Nazis as humanly possible. While the premise screams as homage to the classic World War II films of the 40’s and 50’s, the result is anything but. For the first time in his career, Tarantino wrote a story, set it in a time period and let it run from there. Sure there are nods and winks to the genre in question, but IB feels like his freshest idea since Pulp Fiction. The result is his best film since Jackie Brown.
Inglorious Basterds, at its core, is classic Tarantino in every sense, especially when it comes to the dialogue. Tarantino is known for developing characters through the way they speak and IB does not disappoint, serving up heaps of long winded dialogue at crucial points in the film. There are moments when the film drags a bit due to this, but the pacing is so well done, most viewers will just roll along with it. As a huge Tarantino fan, I look forward to the long monologues and IB gave me all I needed and more.
IB is also one of the best cast movies this summer, with an eclectic yet very enjoyable cast headlined by Brad Pitt, Melanie Laurent and Christoph Waltz (who won a Best Actor Award at Cannes this year for this role). While Brad Pitt is hilarious as the American leader of the Basterds, Waltz easily steals the show as SS enforcer Hans Landa. The opening scene in particular is especially brilliant and perfectly sets the tone for the film. Cameos by Michael Myers, Julie Dreyfus and BJ Novak round out the excellent ensemble cast, as well as some old “Tarantino favorites” that I won’t spoil for you. Let’s just say, if you’re a fan, you’ll cheer when you see / hear them.
While everything else from the direction to the sound is top notch, the film isn’t perfect. In my opinion, Eli Roth was very average as the “The Bear Jew”, a fun character that could have been done much better by another actor. Also, the decision to introduce the other members of the Basterds just to have them literally forgotten about halfway through the film was a surprising omission. It almost felt as though the film had a lot cut from it, surprising considering it’s already lengthy at over 2 and a half hours.
That aside, Inglorious is a true return to form for Tarantino, serving up a wonderfully surprising story backed with excellent acting, thrilling moments and an overall feeling of tension unlike anything he’s ever done. Tarantino has achieved something I always dreamed he would. He didn’t just make a movie honoring classic World War II films…he simply went ahead and created a classic World War II film.
Score – 90%
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