Very, VERY entertaining but could have been a classic.
RMurray847 | Albuquerque, NM United States | 08/24/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"One of the great pleasures of Quentin Tarantino movies is the wonderfully inventive casting that he employs. In PULP FICTION, he revived the career of John Travolta, made Samuel Jackson a star, pushed Bruce Willis into another echelon and even helped get Ving Rhames off to a good start. In JACKIE BROWN, he burnished Pam Grier & Robert Forster's careers. In KILL BILL, he reinvented Uma Thurman and reinvigorated David Carradine. Even in DEATH PROOF, he introduced the world to the amazing stuntwoman Zoe Bell and gave Kurt Russell the kind of part he's missed out on for too long.
And now, wonderfully, in INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS, he's introduced the American viewer to some stellar European actors, namely Melanie Laurent and particularly Christoph Waltz, now an easy favorite for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar.
Tarantino also frequently tries the patience of his viewers with his rococo dialogue and insistence on constantly reminding us that we're watching a movie. In PULP FICTION, all his "habits" were fresh and new to most viewers (because, really, how many of us had seen RESERVOIR DOGS before we saw FICTION?), but over time, we learned that Tarantino was often just a little too pleased with his own screenwriting and often too pleased with his own directing. In a completely off-the-wall piece like the priceless KILL BILL films, everything worked to form a crazy-quilt whole. In INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS, he's too clever for his own good at times.
BASTERDS tells the completely untrue story of how World War II might have ended had a group of bloodthirsty, highly trained American Jews been allowed to infiltrate Nazi occupied France with no mission other than to take Nazi scalps. Oh, and how that mission needed to collide with one fateful night when all the top leadership of Germany attended the gala opening of a new propaganda film held at a movie theatre owned by a beautiful French girl who was actually a Jew who had escaped a massacre that had taken her entire family and now she's bent on revenge at any cost. And of how her goal coincides with that of an undercover British agent who just happens to be a German film scholar and a German double agent who happens to be a movie star.
I know that sounds a little confusing. To Tarantino's credit, the plot as laid out in this 150 minute film is actually easy to follow. In fact, he's put everything into easy-to-digest chapters. It does ask us to believe that every important member of the German government & military would all assemble in a fairly public place at one time...but if you can get past that hurdle, there is much vicarious pleasure to be had in watching WWII reinvented by Tarantino.
By far, the best part of the film is Chapter 1. It features Waltz as SS officer Col. Hans Landa in what is easily the most chilling portrayal of a Nazi since Ralph Fiennes donned the uniform in SCHINDLER'S LIST. Fiennes role (and that entire brilliant movie) were for altogether different purposes. Landa comes off more like a Nazi Hannibal Lecter (without the strange dining preferences)...he's a bit of a lone wolf in his own party. He's feared by all, because he has a wonderful BS detector that helps him root out deception at every turn. In the opening scene, which plays out like a delicate one-act play, Landa comes to a humble French farmhouse and speaks with the owner. We know the owner is hiding Jews beneath his floorboard, and we're pretty sure Landa knows it too. Just how he gets that information, through one of the most tense interrogation scenes you'll ever see, is a joy to behold. You literally find yourself not breathing. I leaned forward in my seat. And yet there is never a raised voice, nor a threatening gesture. The screws are applied through intensity of manner. Waltz instantly makes his character a classic. Tarantino the writer has crafted brilliant dialogue, and Tarantino the director films it all with rare taste and simplicity, and Waltz knocks it out of the park.
The rest of the film is more uneven. While Brad Pitt is a goofy delight as Aldo Raine, leader of the Basterds...it's a performance that is more campy than believable. His Basterds, including folks like director Eli Roth and B.J. Novak from TV's "The Office" are fairly interchangeable. And strangely, we look forward to them conducting KILL BILL PT. ONE type mayhem, yet they actually use relatively little screentime showing them in action. There is one short, effective scene of their own brand of interrogation...but mostly we have to take the word of other characters (like Hitler himself) that these guys are wreaking havoc on the Nazis.
And during one jarring moment, we are introduced to one of the basterds with a blast of `70s era Blaxploitation music and a `70s era title card. Why? Yes, it was funny...but it took everyone totally out of the spell the movie was weaving. Just as having Michael Myers, in thick but unconvincing makeup, play a British officer hatching a scheme to blow up a movie theater, was very distracting. Myers accent is impeccable, and he plays the part straight...but he's still unmistakably Myers and many audience members snickered when they recognized him. Very distracting.
It's as though Tarantino doesn't quite believe that he can make a straightforward film and have it be riveting. Too bad...because when he gets out of his own way (as he mostly does in the climactic sequences of the film), INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS is a cinematic treat. The gorgeous settings and lovely costumes even gave Tarantino a chance to show off and have it fit the tone of the film...but he still insists on going off the rails. "Hey, this is a Tarantino movie!" he seems to want to shout at us. And this causes him to get in the way of the stunning Melanie Laurant, who plays the vengeful theater owner. I've never seen her before, and she is an entrancing presence, whether in casual slacks or a gorgeous formal red dress. She dominates the final portions of the film.
I had a great time at this film, and I recommend it fairly highly. But with 10 minutes less of the sometimes too clever dialogue and 5 minutes less of Tarantino's showboating, and we might have had a true classic of suspense. See it, though, because the two performances I mentioned are worth the price of admission...heck, the opening scene is worth it."
WARNING: This movie may not be what you are expecting...
D. Ferrari | 12/21/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is really pretty outstanding. The opening scene is intense, frightening, shocking, and appauling all at once, and it sets up the entire film perfectly. I really had no expectations for this movie because I had read so many mixed reviews and none of them really said anything, so I actually thought this was a really good movie although a bit drawn out. The film is artfully done beautifully shot and extremely well acted.
Now here's why you may not like this quite as much as I did and why my wife absolutely HATED it.
What most expected from this movie:
1- Gore, action, and more gore and more action
2- A story that follows the Basterds as they wreak havoc on Hitler's army
3- Maybe a few subtitles as the film does take place in France after all
4- Classic Quentin Tarantino comedic dialogue
What the film actually is:
1- A character driven story HEAVY on dialogue and other than the last 20 minutes extremely light on action with a couple pretty graphic gory bits tossed in. The last 20 minutes is extremely graphic and violent.
2- The story largely follows the young Jewish girl/woman who escapes the opening scene. The Basterds are just kind of there as an afterthought because they are planning to blow up the same theater.
3- This film is conservatively speaking about 80% subtitled and spoken either in German or French.
4- The only part that is really funny (and it is hilarious) is Brad Pitt "speaking" Italian so poorly that Helen Keller could have picked him out as the American in the crowd.
I've read negative reviews about how this film is "war porn" and diminishes U.S. veterans in some way, but this couldn't be further from the truth. First of all this film is pure fiction that just happens to take place during WWII in France. Nothing depicted in this film is based in any way on fact. It is a complete fantasy of what could have possibly happened if Hitler and all the Nazi upper echelon had all decided to go to a jewish owned movie theater to watch a propaganda film.
Overall it is an extremely well made film that does just about everything well. It is a little bit drawn out at over 2.5 hours but like I said it is very well done and the acting is superb. 4.5 stars. I'd recommend it but be sure to have an open mind.
My wife wants to watch it again. She thinks that maybe due to the fact that we started this at about 2:00 am might have had an effect on her opinion. We'll see. For me personally after a second viewing I like it even more."
Underwhelming Tarantino film
BackToGood | PA | 01/21/2010
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Quentin Tarantino is all about the gimmick now. While PULP FICTION was an original, mazelike movie with memorable characters and KILL BILL VOL.1 was the perfect grindhouse kung fu revenge film (modernized for today's audience), everything else he's done feels either half-baked, self-congratulatory, incomplete, or all of the above. I think that in most of his dialogue-driven films (JACKIE BROWN, KILL BILL VOL. 2, DEATH PROOF, and this film INGLORIOUS BASTERDS), Tarantino THINKS he knows how certain people talk. I know that it's supposed to be "his vision" and "just a movie", but there still has to be something for the audience to connect to as it's going on. In most of his films, I feel no connection. And that is definitely true of this film INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS.
INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS gets off to a promising start introducing us to the despicable Jew Hunter Colonel Hans Landa (played brilliantly by Oscar frontrunner Christoph Waltz) and his interrogation of a French farmer. This tense scene effectively touches upon the evil that was Nazism, especially it's conclusion. Then, the movie falls apart immediately with, ironically, the introduction of the title characters! The Basterd unit, led by Brad Pitt (in a seriocomic role playing Sgt. Aldo Raine) are too distant to the viewer and we get absolutely no handle on what any of them is about, except for perhaps Hugo Stiglitz, but even his intro and backstory is muzzled by Tarantino's self-congratulation by using out-of-place elements from his other films (odd 70s-style subtitles and narration).
There's been a lot of buzz about a second scene in a basement of a Paris bar where a showdown between some of the Basterds and German soldiers occurs. It's a well executed scene, but drags on for way too long and is really devoid of any of the depth or provocation that Tarantino displayed in similarly long scenes in PULP FICTION. The whole time this scene was going on, I was like, "What's the point?!" And after the climax of the scene, we are left with one surviving character (the most annoying of the scene) that we are supposed to empathize with, but all his droning and whining just makes me glad of what actually happened to him. I wish more characters in this were treated to a fitting end to get them out of this mess of a film.
The most interesting characters are the two main females French-Jewish refugee Shosanna Dreyfuss (heartbreaking Melainie Laurent, whose character is the core of the film) and crafty double-agent German actress Bridget von Hammersmark (sexy Diane Kruger, the second best character in the film behind Hans Landa). While INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS certainly has some good characters in it in addition to the aforementioned ones, they are all trapped in a rather messy film with too much dialogue and in scenes that go absolutely nowhere. Tarantino really lets loose with his histrionics and weirdness in the painfully dull, long, tedious final act.
While the odd, over-the-top final act (with a tacked-on ending) is my biggest complaint with the film, the film overall feels very disconnected and incomplete; the viewer can't connect with the characters due to the overemphasis on talking; they all feel like set pieces, rather than real people. Tarantino has good ideas and executes SOME of them well (esp. the opening scene, which actually has some depth and believability), but steps on his own toes so much that he ends up screwing up his own film. With 70s title threads, jive-talking narrators, music stolen from his previous films (which he already stole from other films!), an idiotic interpretation of Hitler and his falling regime, and even the equivalent of an 80s music video, INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS plays like one of Tarantino's dreams (or nightmares if you prefer)."
DVD (Single Disc) & Movie Review
Mia | OH USA | 03/12/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The single disc DVD release is very disappointing. Almost NO special features. Boo! Rent it, don't buy it if you're into special features on DVDs.
Caution: Might Be A Spoiler Review.
1) If you don't like really violent scenes, I'd suggest fast-forwarding through them. They're a bit much, in my opinion. I get that it's a Q.T. film but it's always just above and beyond gross.
2) If you go cross-eyes reading subtitles, this may be really challenging.
3) If you have issues with violence towards women, this may bother you.
4) Man, does it twist with WW2 history. Big time. And it is so off with the time-line of early June 1944.
5) A major plot development is never fully explained. How DOES she end up with that movie theater anyway?
1)Those caveats aside, this is a really well done film, beautifully shot. Lighting and scenes, set dressing, costumes etc. are really outstanding. I believe they may have made one mistake with the British officer's uniform but that's a small detail. I liked the pacing of the film especially. It really is a character study with adventure and gore thrown in.
2) Christoph Waltz as Col. Landa is simply amazing!! He is so charmingly creepy that I felt like I was being ensnared, undressed and hung out to dry in a slime pit. The first scene is so taut that I had to stop the DVD and breath a bit. You know it's NOT going to end nicely but still, I was riveted. It wasn't over-paced either. Perfect. Funny thing is, I felt watching Mr. Waltz' performance that he probably is a great guy in "real" life. I'd put him down as one of the great film villains!
3) Brad Pitt is handsome and wise-cracking with an accent you could cut concrete with. I'm not a fan of his but he was great!
4) The two lead females are talented and gorgeous. If you wonder why Diane Kruger looks familiar, she was in the National Treasure movies. And she must speak a bunch of languages because her accents (to me) were excellent!
5) If you're multi-lingual and want to brush up on your French, German and Italian, it's great practice!
6) The casting is brilliant, well-done!
I would recommend this movie highly, but if you're squeamish at all, fast forward when the knives, guns and baseball bats come out."