Inglourious Basterds Review

Published 5 years ago by

Short Version: Don’t go into Inglourious Basterds expecting a serious WWII film and you’ll  probably end up having fun with it.

inglourious basterds review Inglourious Basterds Review
Screen Rant reviews Inglourious Basterds

I am not a Quentin Tarantino disciple (just thought I’d get that out of the way).

Now don’t jump to conclusions – I like most of Tarantino’s films, I’m just not a dyed in the wool Tarantino junkie. I like most of his movies but I haven’t made a secret of the fact that I absolutely despised most of Death Proof.

Despite a directing history going back to 1987, Inglourious Basterds is only the seventh movie he’s directed. If there’s one thing you can say about him it’s that he’s got a sense of style when it comes to his films, and this one is no exception.

Inglorious Basterds (and unless I missed it, it’s never explained why it’s not just spelled Inglorious Bastards) is the story of a small team of Jewish-American soldiers assembled by Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) in order to strike fear into the soldiers of the Third Reich by brutally killing (“we don’t take prisoners”) and scalping Nazis. Eventually they cross paths with Shosanna (Mélanie Laurent), a young French-Jewish woman whose family was murdered when she was younger and now runs a movie theater in Paris.

The film is broken up into chapters, beginning with: “Chapter One – Once upon a time in Nazi-occupied France.” It’s a cool retro way to segment the film into its different sections. Also retro was the music during the opening credits, which seemed to come right out of a 1960s Sergio Leone spaghetti western – it put a grin on my face and was a good way to get the audience in the right mood for the film.

Now I like fast-moving scenes as much as the next guy, but this first chapter opens in 1941 on a rural farm in a scene that is (and I hesitate to use this word) deliciously slow. A farmer spies a carload of Nazis a mile away coming towards the farm. He has four daughters, is concerned about them and has them head inside their small home. Here is where we first meet Col. Hans Landa (brilliantly played by Christoph Waltz) – a charming on the outside, Machiavellian on the inside Nazi officer with the nickname of “Jew Hunter.” The tension in this scene builds and builds and is excruciatingly good. Tarantino is known for the dialog in his films and uses it to great effect here.

christoph waltz Inglourious Basterds Review

Christoph Waltz in 'Inglourious Basterds'

It is in Chapter Two that we meet the “Basterds,” a line up of what looks like mainly a bunch of pencil-necked Jewish guys, along with a crazy-eyed Eli Roth playing Sgt. Donny “Bear Jew” Donowitz – a soldier with a predilection for bashing Nazi brains in with a baseball bat. We see Brad Pitt looking like he’s doing his best facial impression of Marlon Brando as The Godfather, but with a seriously Southern accent. He tells the men (and the audience) the purpose of their mission, which is to kill Nazis in the most brutal ways possible in order to strike fear into them and have it spread throughout their ranks.

We get to see them in action, and their shall we say “no nonsense” approach is immediately evident in their interrogation of a German officer and then an enlisted man.

Advertising and trailers aside, the real story here is about Shosanna. She is beautiful and a hero of the Reich has become enamored with her. Of course considering her family was murdered by Nazis she is not swayed by his charm at all. Things being what they are she is dragged into being forced to show a Nazi propaganda film at her theater and she devises a plan to take full advantage of that.

melani laurent Inglourious Basterds Review

Melanie Laurent in 'Inglourious Basterds'

Eventually her plans dovetail (not smoothly) with that of the Basterds, along with a plan by British officers to do some serious damage to the Nazis as well. Hint: This is an alternate universe version of World War II.

Tarantino has come up with a decent combination of a throwback to World War II movies from 40+ years ago mixed with more graphic (how about swastikas being carved into foreheads?) violence, his signature dialog and great use of music. I mentioned the tension in the opening chapter, but there are a lot of tense scenes throughout the movie – however beyond the opening scene (which while long and drawn out, worked well), some scenes later in the film do suffer from the typical Tarantino “over-dialoged” style and go on too long. Mixed in between the drama and violence were moments of humor that worked very well and didn’t suck you out of the movie.

On the other hand, don’t go in expecting a balls-out action movie, because this isn’t it. While there are action set pieces in the film, it’s mostly about the dialog. There are a lot of characters in the film, some of which seem like they could have been cut without doing the film much harm. And for Brad Pitt fans – know that while he has quite a few scenes in the film, he’s not in it as much as you might hope.

Except for Eli Roth (who really seemed out of place), performances throughout the film were very well done (again, Christoph Waltz is my absolute favorite). Laurent was mesmerizing in her performance in addition to being easy on the eyes. I got a kick out of Brad Pitt, but I couldn’t get the vision of Brando with cotton in his cheeks out of my head. icon smile Inglourious Basterds Review

By the way, you’d better be a fan of subtitled movies because there is a LOT of that in this film – most scenes involving the French or Germans are spoken in their native language.

Overall this is a typical over the top Tarantino film, alternately intensely serious and then not taking itself seriously at all. Frankly, I would have preferred (and was expecting) more of The Dirty Dozen type of film, focused on the Basterds taking out tons of Nazis throughout the movie. If you’re a Tarantino fan you’ll most likely enjoy Inglourious Basterds – if you’re not and don’t have an issue with graphic violence mixed with close-to-campiness you may have a good time with it as well.

Our Rating:

4 out of 5
(Excellent)

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TAGS: 4 star movies, inglourious basterds

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  1. Vic,
    are all the guys in the Bastard group Jewish?
    and you did not say why Eli Routh does not fit in

  2. Hmm… good point – he just seemed out of place compared to the other members of the Basterds.

    Yes, they were all Jewish, that was the point of the group (and movie, actually): to have Jews fighting back and striking fear into the hearts of the Nazis.

    Vic

  3. The reason for the spelling change was to distant this movie from Enzo Castellari’s Movie (Inglorious Bastards). It’s one of Tarantino’s favorites so he just took the title. That movie is in the same vein as this and is pretty much a rip off of The Dirty Dozen… or so I’ve heard. :)

  4. Oh and what can we expect as far as the rating goes? Is this like straight up no kids or could my 13 year old brother go to it?

  5. It’s pretty violent – personally, I wouldn’t take a 13 year old to it.

    Vic

  6. Vic, if i’m not a huge fan of taratino, would this finally be the film to sway me on him? Or is it like his others, excess violence and swearing with little else to it?

  7. Sounds like a Nazi, Pulp Fiction. ;-)

    4 out of 5, I’ll check this tomarrow.

  8. Glad to hear that its better than “Death Proof”. I may actually see it in theatres now rather than dvd.

  9. I just got back from a early screening of the movie and I loved it. But then again I’m a fan of most Tarantino movies(with DeathProof being the exception.) Christoph Waltz was amazing and as far as Pitt goes, all i have to say is correcto!(you’ll get it later) With Eli, I liked him until he opened his mouth for the first time, after his big intrance. The nazi officer interrogation would have been a perfect scene had Eli not spoke.

  10. “brilliantly played by Christopher Waltz”

    The word “brilliantly” doesn’t do the man justice ;)

    Overall I enjoyed myself watching this, more-so than most of the movies I’ve seen this year. I can’t really find much to fault it. People say there weren’t enough Bastards, but really, I enjoyed the other parts of the film just as much as the parts with the Bastards in it. Loved the musical choices in each segment of the film, as if each chapter was going for it’s own feel, but it still worked overall. And yes, those deliciously slow scenes, this is Tarantino giving us everything he’s got right there.

    Something I did notice, not a bad thing, just a bit odd, the first scene when they’re talking French, the subtitles were a little… odd. Sometimes, when someone would say merci the subtitle would actually read “merci” instead of the translation. Other times it would read “thank you”. I know a word like “merci” is pretty well known among most people, so translation isn’t, strictly speaking, necessary, but still, I just found it a little odd.

  11. I absolutly loved the intro, starting with the long intro credits stating every important actor and guest starrings. It was just excellent, and as you said, brought me back to those older films. Like Once upon a time in the west, the reference for the first chapter. That chapter was brilliantly slow indeed, the tension between the farmer and the Jew Hunter was building nicely. I really thought the farmer would break his neck or just plainy kill him when he sat there with his milk and huge pipe.
    I’m a with you that some scenes felt a bit too long to me too, but maybe on a second viewing my mind is better fit for this movie. After all I thought it would be more action-packed than it is. But it’s actually good so, it has depth in it, beautiful dialog and scenes. I love the use of native language, I really hate movies about the war that do not do this!, native languages immediately give you a feel of the time and sucks you in more. And you just have to see, well hear, Brad Pitts Italian!

  12. I am not a huge Tarantino fan, but at least you can say that he truly does original work even though he does borrow from previous films & novels. A Tarantino film seperates itself from the rest of the crowd.
    IMO, Jackie Brown is his best work so far.
    I’ll check this out probably next week, this week, I’ll give D-9 more support with my dollar.

  13. @Jeff

    It’s typical Tarantino – if you don’t like any of his films, you probably won’t like this one. But you never know…

    Vic

  14. I have YET to see a Tarentino film that I like, so I will be avoiding this film. Sounds like a typical, arrogant Tarentino film. I just do not find his movies enjoyable. I know that I am in the minority (not that I care), but Tarentino films bore me to death. I actually HATED, HATED with a PASSION, Pulp Fiction. And that movie is put up as one of his masterpieces. It’s safe to say that my butt won’t be in the seats for THIS film..

  15. WHAT?!?!?!? Death Proof was one of the best Tarantinoes out there!! It was so comically dark it shone with sheer brilliance, the undertones, the escalating tension, and the concrete ending that few thrillers can deliver. Although the new Last House on the left was excellent. While Death Proof was short, it was short and sweet; i.e. hot chicks and Kurt Russell. Now we have Brad Pitt and Nazis. A departure with this film sure, but Death Proof was as well as Kill Bill. (I really wish they’d left that alley scene in.)

  16. Best parts of Death Proof:
    The first wreck that killed off those annoying skanks.
    The last second of the film when the girls high five after beating the crap out of Russell.
    Great ending to an overall annoying film.

  17. Yeah, what 790 said. :-)

  18. im just wondering is the R rating just for violence or is there sex and nudity?

  19. I saw Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction when they first came out. Back then, I was an unabashed Tarantino fan.

    I’m over Tarantino now.

    I can’t describe how tired I am of his schtick. The looping, arch dialogue, the killing off of sympathetic characters for no reason other than shock, and most of all: the fact that he no longer makes movies, he makes movies about other movies.

    I’d hoped that at least the meta-movie crap wouldn’t factor into Inglourious Basterds. But no, the whole friggin’ thing is a celluloid meditation on celluloid.

    There hasn’t been a good Tarantino movie since Pulp Fiction. And even that one was starting to wear out his welcome.

    I’m starting to think that Tony Scott was the best thing that could’ve happened to True Romance.

  20. So what exactly was Brad Pitt thinking in his german interview with the “Stern”?!! Does Angie not let him out of the house a lot or does he at all watch the history channel. How could you call a movie based on true heros of their time a redicilous movie? Based on what? It sometimes seems there is not much behind all the ‘glourious’ news about the guy at all besides having kids, and gee, dont we have them all? What is so special about that. Maybe he should sound in the future a little bit more educated and think about the people that still live today with a number on their wrist. Surely he must have missed a visit to one of the so many konzentration camps in Germany, thats what i call redicilious!!
    Claudia, a native German.

  21. (Here’s my mini review) no spoilers,,,
    ^
    Well,,,,,,,,,,,,
    I didn’t totally hate this film. It had some great performances by Brad Pitt and Christoph Waltz. All the nazi’s did great jobs at being eloquent arsholes.
    It had a very clean look and good cinematography…

    The much talked about soundtrack was super campy and had a Hawaii 5-0 vibe when it wasn’t classical or a new version of Chopsticks. The climatic theme at the end was right out of the Original 50′s Blob film. Funny and horrific.
    Eli Roth didn’t bother me at all in the role of the Jew Bear. He’s actually a natural at killing people, either through his films or “acting”. 8-O If I were a cop I would routinely search Eli’s house for captives… (Fo reals)

    Anyway the film is basically a slow paced comical anti-nazi propaganda film. Lol. :-)
    The opening credits looked like they were created and approved by a sixth grader. (Sure its Grindhouse I get it!, whatever) There’s a narrative in the first part of the film by Samuel L Jackson that I think they forgot to put into the rest of the film. I thought that was perfectly bizarre for Tarrantino.

    Quentin tells a pretty simple story that rewrites history as we know it. However as most films have a swift pace and 3 acts. Inglorious Basterds has 5 acts and extremely slow (almost takes you out of the realm of reality) dialog. Several times in the film I was thinking to myself, “people just don’t talk and act this slow, and what is she looking at?, JFC!!” There’s a scene in the first act that’s so dragged out, a moth flies into the shot and lands on a table. It quickly starts to walk up this glass of milk Waltz is slowly drinking. His voice was in such a german monotone that I found myself memorized by the moth walking up the glass. I’m thinking, “will this shot end before that moth falls into the glass?” A minute later just as the moth got to the top they cut away. I was so pissed! It would have been a perfect moment for Han’s to say, “Hey I’m not drinking that, jew lover!” I have to assume that moth was killed, as we didn’t see it afterwards. Maybe its a deleted scene, who knows?

    The film is at times a total comedy and seemed to take a John Waters path of over the top camp and violence.
    If you’ve ever wondered what Scalping actually looks like, step this way. The gore is very realistic in this film. One of its strengths. I think a 4 out of 5 is correct on a Quentin Tarrantino scale but on a (take a step back,,) scale the film gets a 2.5 out of 5…
    If anyone else had put this out it would be labeled as a big budget film school project. As a Tarrantino film it was pretty good, but not worth seeing again,,,

  22. I liked your take on it. But i thought the end was pretty good.It’s actually pretty weird to be sitting in a theater watching another theater burn to the ground with everyone in it. There was something really disconcerting about that to me, maybe it was a unintentional horror moment in the film. I thought the music mix was great, and it was done by Marconi. I kinda wished they hadn’t killed the guy in the bar who was the new father. I thought he was a really interesting character. Some of my gripes are petty, but i wished that he had stayed with the Basterds and what they were doing as the main story. Not jump around all over france, germany, and england. The plot kinda got lost to me about 2 thirds of the way through untill the scene in the basement bar(that card game looks fun though).

  23. Spoilers!!!!!!

    Damn you!

    Yeah John I agree I was thinking the same thing when the theatre burned down. (Copycats, the Irony, the horror !!! ) ;-)

    Seriously I was!!!
    ;-O

  24. @790

    Yeah, I really struggled with what rating to give this – it was going to be either 4 or 3.5.

    Giving scores to movies is a pain in the butt…

    Vic

  25. Loved the original. I wonder if they will go after and scalp the equally heinous Japanese Nazi-esque deathsquads who did the same thing to the Chinese and our prisoners of war in a sequel to this film,.. Hmmmm you think Hollywood would have the balls?? Sadly I doubt it. The Japanese were every bit as aweful as the Nazi’s in WWII, slaughtering and experimenting on millions of chinese. Catching babies with bayonetes, making mothers have sex with their children at gunpoint, ovens, these are not isolated incidents either. The Chinese were seen as subhuman dogs by Japan as the Jews were by the Nazi’s. Why are the Japanese of WWII seen as misunderstood noble warriors by history and hollywood? I hope they do a sequel starring Chinese American actors and the Japanese get their well deserved turn

  26. @Lord Garth

    No sequel likely, but Tarantino is making noises about a possible prequel – might not be a theatrical release though… HBO?

    Vic

  27. C’mon Vic.Haven’t you learned by now that what ever Tarantino says that he’s thinking about doing something, 9 out of 10 times it never sees the light of day?

    Let’s go down the list,shall we:
    The animated O-Ren Ishii movie/series
    The Cantonese spoken kung-fu movie that was supposed to supplement Kill Bill
    The Vega Brothers
    I even think that he said that he wanted to do a western,which,I guess ended up being that god awful Takashi Miike movie Sukiyaki Western Django

    I never really heard about Inglorious Bastard until earlier this year,and I was like,”what about the other projects that you were “supposed” to be doing?”.While I do enjoy his movies,this guy must have ADD and is a complete and total scatter brain.

    So don’t expect a prequel or anything else from him too soon.

  28. After checking,I guess the western he wants to do,isn’t Sukiyaki Western Django.

  29. Basterds was not a perfect movie, nor Tarantino’s ‘masterpiece’…. But overall it was an immensely enjoyable experience. Great performances, entertaining sequences, and as always a love of cinema comes through. Some scenes need less self-indulgence. Speaking of which, check out my Basterds review with my father, at: http://www.youtube.com/gabndad