Inglourious Basterds Review

Published 6 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. simple 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

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  1. I never applaud at the end of a movie, but with all the crap that has come out so far this summer i gladly clapped at the end of basterds with a smile. i agree with the 4 outta 5 rating.

  2. @Longshanks

    Hence my comment about “making noises” – that’s not exactly saying I think it’s going to happen.


  3. Lord Garth, AMEN! I always feel the same way when I see another Hollywood WWII film NOT dealing with the atrocities the Japanese did. Then you see films like Letters from Iwo Jima that actually side with the Japanese to some extent?! They would never do a film like that about the Nazis. End rant :)

    That said, here’s my take on Inglourious Basterds:

    I really enjoyed this latest one from QT. His critics say he’s not original, that he burrows too much from films past. But at least he is INSPIRED by the old classics and not blatantly remaking them like typical Hollywood these days. Also, every great artist has his/her own unique style and QT has that whether you like it or not. I like it. I liked the slow, dialogue filled scenes in Basterds; although, they did seem a bit slower than usual maybe because they were subtitled, and I love foreign films too. As slow as some of the scenes may be, they did all build up quite nicely. I think every scene awarded the audience with something they wanted to see or wasn’t expecting to see.

    And that leads me to this… like many QT films you just aren’t quite sure what to expect, whether it be the plot or some technical aspect of the film. Going into Basterds I wasn’t expecting a subtitle heavy foreign film. I wasn’t expecting the violence actually kept to a minimum, in my eyes at least. Given the marketing of the film I was expecting balls out, guns-a-blazin Nazi blood fest, but really there was only *MINOR SPOILER* the scalping/baseball bat bashing scene in the forest that was kinda gory. The rest of the violence was actually kinda tame. Lastly, I too was expecting to see a story entirely about Brad Pitt and The Basterds, but that wasn’t the case.

    Now all these unexpected things I mention were a positive because it kept the movie and my mind fresh. I saw the TV spots and trailers, but now I’m treated to a brand new movie in the theater, one entirely I was not expected to see. The movie I had expected to see would’ve been great, but this unexpected one holds up just fine.

    Like his other films, I loved QT’s excellent treatment of music in Basterds. The use of the native tongue given the setting of the film was great to see, unlike typical Hollywood-Valkyrie-garbage. Brad Pitt was HILARIOUS as the Southern EYE-talian. Eli Roth didn’t bother me that much, but I hate his movies so could have done without him. And if The Jew Hunter, Christoph Waltz, doesn’t get nominated for an Oscar, I’m burning down the theater! :)

  4. ^ Sorry, bad spelling hehe. I meant “borrows” not “burrows”.

  5. Hello everybody!

    First off, I am the biggest Tarantino fan i know but I will try my best to give an unbiased review.

    This was actually the first time I had ever read a script from Tarantino before watching the film, s i wasn’t quite sure how things would go down. I thought the script was superb but read more like a period piece set in an alternate universe than a Tarantino film. But like i said, I loved the script and could not put it down.

    That being said I went into this film expecting a very complete, dialogue heavy film about suspense and revenge. My expectations were met and exceeded with this film. I think that Quentin managed to keep the story and suspense of the script perfectly while adding on his trademark style.

    I have read alot of reviews saying that this film lacks the style that we have come to expect out of Tarantino films. For me this could not be further from the truth. Everything from the lighting, music, cinematography, dialogue, violence and everything else reeks of QT.

    While not his best movie ever, I thought it was ONE of his best films to date. The acting was PERFECT for the characters from every actor. Brad Pitt’s accent is perfect throughout the film and Hanz Landa might be on of my new favorite movie characters ever. Even Omar Doom, one of the characters that didn’t quite light up the acting world along side Eli Roth in Death Proof, delivers in this film. In fact, the only actor i almost had a problem with was Mike Meyers; only because he sounded like Austin Powers and I was expecting something crazy to happen at any second.

    Okay, okay i will wrap it up. The violence is brutal, the movie builds great suspense in almost every scene, the acting is spot on from the entire cast, the cinematography and shooting locations are superbly thought out and, regardless of what some people say, the film is definitely a Tarantino film through and through.

    While this movie did suffer from trailers and a marketing campaign that painted a picture of a different movie; fans of Tarantino should love this film. I know i sure did!

  6. @ longshanks

    I totally agree with some of the subtitles moving to fast. I almost forgot about it but It bothered me in 2 scenes when Shozanna was talking.

    Secondly I think the Inglourious Basterds title is supposed to represent all of the characters and not just the “basterds”.

    The defentition of inglorious bastard would basically be a shameful or disgraceful; unpleasant person. That covers the “basterds”, jews in the eyes of the nazis, Von Hammersmark, Hanz Landa, even the nazis themselves or the french father hiding the jews.

    I really just thought the title of the film applied to everyone.

  7. I meant that the Nazi party would view the jews and anyone hiding them as inglorious, possibly.

  8. @Longshanks

    The subtitles didn’t bother me – I always have them on at home so I guess I’m just used to them.


  9. QT was poking humor through the subtitles. Some of them were quick and the classic was “Merci”, be translated to “thank you” and then back to “Merci.”

  10. aww it was great. only problem not enough scenes with the bastards killing nazis… still great film though. classic tarantino. although d9 was better cause of the surprised awesomeness, with tarantino… violence, long tense standoff scenes, awesomeness is expected

  11. How badass were those little guns they strapped to their hands in the end!? I gotta get some of those…

  12. Ok people need to stop saying that the biggest problem with the movie was having less violence than they thought it would have. That is not a real problem! Can’t anyone just enjoy a good movie once in a while? Just sit back and enjoy instead of this ADD fest we have going?

  13. i didn’t like ‘there will be blood’ because there was enough action with the oil rig. They should have had the oil derrick transform.

  14. sorry, *wasn’t enough action

  15. These comments are not directed towards anybody just my review of the film.

    I thought “Ingluorious Basterds” was really great, and shows a maturity (even though QT is having alot of fun) as a director. He pays homage to Leone, Hitchcock, and many other greats and the Film is about how Film was used as a propaganda tool and that the war was a chess match(battle of wits,propaganda, and demoralization).

    The violence is this film is quick short,and brutal. and serves only as a climax to the drama that builds (Why would you expect glorifield violence, with a film title Inglorious, that violence was in “Pride of the Nation” the film within the film. Outstanding See it.

  16. Easily the best movie of the year…

  17. Sticky Lee, I think she blew her credibility before that by claiming that Lord Of The Rings and Hannah Montana were “movies about real times in history.” And she complains about Brad Pitt’s character doing drugs…

  18. @Sticky Lee

    Having just read that review, I’m tempted to say it was done very tongue in cheek (I haven’t read any other stuff on that blog, so I don’t know) if only because of the absurdity of not only what you mentioned, but also the fact that she seems to think Brad Pitt wrote and directed this movie and that his character was doing cocaine (I think she’s referring to his snuffing tobacco).

    Really, either the reviewer actually is that stupid, or it’s a joke on us all. Either way, not really worth our concern.

  19. You know, with the crap that’s coming out this weekend, I wouldn’t be surprised if this movie is number 1 again. At least if I go to the movies this weekend, I’ll see this movie over the new ones.

  20. Crap coming out this weekend? Kahless don’t forget the Daytime Emmys are on Sunday night…

  21. I think that the world would probably be a better place (for once) if history had played out the way that Tarantino depicts it in this film.

  22. No doubt Steve, no doubt,,,,!!!

    Let’s include Kissinger in this as well,,, :-)

  23. See, what I didn’t like was that the movie didn’t seem like it’s story wasn’t told enough, I thought there needed to be more scenes and build up to the climax, more than there is. Sure, I was nervous going in (this is my first Tarantino film), but overall relaxed while watching the first and second chapter. But when the the sotry started to bug me was when Shosanna decides to burn down the movie theater, and isn’t it lucky it’s her that has a movie theatre?

    And did I miss that part where Shosanna and the Basterds make their plans together, hook up to kill all these nazis?