Directed by Quentin Tarantino.
Written by Quentin Tarantino.
Starring Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Eli Roth and Mélanie
Release Year: 2009
Review Date: 8/21/09
"Inglourious Basterds" has nothing to do
with the 1978 original
"Inglorious Bastards"...which, is a good idea. Although
that film was a B-level action film following five Americans who
take it to the Nazis alongside members of the French Resistance,
Quentin Tarantino took his sweet time crafting an update and what an
update it is.
The new "Inglourious Basterds" couldn't be
any different from the original: an OSS team of eight
soldiers, led by Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt), is sent into
Nazi-occupied France to conduct Nazi assassinations and ambushes in
order to strike fear into the hearts of SS soldiers. Their
trademark? Scalping Nazis.
That's right--scalping Nazis.
Meanwhile, an SS investigator nicknamed "The
Jew Hunter"--Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz)--is moving slowly
throughout France to uncover Jews in hiding; when we meet him, he
has just taken out a family of all but one Jewish dairy
farmers...the woman that escapes, Shoshanna Dreyfus (Mélanie
Laurent), later has the chance to help the Basterds in their fight
against Hitler. And, for good measure, the British send in
undercover agents in the form of two actors (Michael Fassbender and
Diane Kruger, from the "National Treasure" films) to help the
Basterds by infiltrating a theater performance that may or may not
be attended by high-end Nazi officers. There's even an
addition to the Basterds' crew in the form of Sgt. Hugo Stiglitz (Til
Schweiger, who's played baddies in movies like "The Replacement
Killers"), who has a penchant for losing his temper.
In other words, "Inglourious Basterds" is a
big movie; like "Pulp Fiction", it has a lot going on with multiple
characters but Tarantino is wise to not make the movie overly crafty
is its sequencing or storytelling...the movie is generally
straight-forward, without many surprises, and that's a good thing
given how this plays out over the 150-minute running time.
Broken into five chapters, the movie wisely is really NOT about the
Basterds; sure, two of the five segments feature them a bit more
closely, but I think that decision makes Brad Pitt's part that much
funnier. His Raine isn't involved in the violence of the film
(which gets nasty at times), but his quips matched with his Bobby
Bowden-like hick stylings--imagine someone running through stories
peppered with "natzee sum bitches", all while looking incredibly
uncomfortable while talking--makes this instantly one of my favorite
Pitt roles. I'll be curious to see, come Oscar time, how the
Weinstein Company pitches Pitt for awards, because the part is not
onscreen enough for a lead role but maybe too much for a supporting
No matter--the man who instantly rises to
the cream of the acting crop in 2009 is Waltz, with a dream part
that takes advantage of the Austrian's ability to speak three
languages fluently, all the while getting some of the best lines,
the best movie moments and essentially the movie's common link
throughout the five individual chapters. In a movie about
Nazis, you've got to be looking for something original, and Waltz
has it in maybe the best lead part Tarantino has ever written.
(Yeah, I said it; even Uma Thurman in the "Kill Bill" films wasn't
as interesting as Waltz is in this movie. You might be
thinking Sam Jackson or John Travolta in "Pulp Fiction", but in both
cases, I never thought that those two were as scary--as hitmen, no
less!!--as Waltz is in moments during this film.)
"Inglourious Basterds" is funny, violent,
heavily subtitled, wacky (with trademark Tarantino soundtrack
moments, or the re-imagination of history that keeps this "fictional
yet unintentional" work fresh), and surprisingly tense. I was
surprised how long it took me to relax after watching the movie;
scenes featuring death and destruction are done well here, but it's
all of the scenes that feature more trademark Tarantino moments
where characters talk for a long time, then people get
shot/tortured/interrogated, that had me take a couple of deep
breaths after it was over. The film's opening chapter, when we
first meet Waltz's Col. Landa, is very, very good and sets the kind
of tone that left me excited throughout to see how things would end.
Where would I rank this one, in terms of
Tarantino? Assuming that everyone's favorite is "Pulp
Fiction", I still think that "Reservoir Dogs" is second but I would
move "Inglourious Basterds" into third. For me, it was
slightly better than
Bill, Vol. I", somewhat significantly better than "Jackie Brown"
"Kill Bill, Vol. II" and way, way better than his career nadir,
I think that "Basterds" sets up the director for a follow-up that
might be his best work yet. If anything else, he has wised up
after all these years--for the first time, he doesn't appear or do
voiceover work in a film he directed, which is a very good thing!
Rating: Opening Weekend
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard