Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Review: Inglorious Basterds - not too glorious
You've got to give Quentin Tarantino props for fulfilling every human being's utmost fantasy of killing Hitler. He delivers on certain things, but in his first film since the enjoyable Grindhouse film, Death Proof, Basterds is a little off. The good thing about Basterds is the casting choices. Brad Pitt is a hoot as Lt. Aldo Raines, leader of the group of Jewish-American soldiers, who are dropped into Germany occupied France to wreak some havoc on the Nazis. Pitt nails a wicked deep Southern drawl and gives juice to the film every time he is onscreen. Trouble is that Pitt is only onscreen for about 30 minutes of the film's 2 and half hour running time. Still he makes the most out of his limited screen time. Also quite good is Christoph Waltz as Colonel Hans Landa, who just oozes Naziness as the commander who loves his job a little too much. He treats it like a regular 9 to 5 job with benefits. And loves to hunt down Jewish escapees and thwart Allied missions with sinister regularity. I see Waltz winning the Best Supporting Actor Oscar very easily. Newcomer Melanie Laurent is terrific as Shosanna, the young Jewish woman who escapes Nazi capture when her family is slaughtered. Her path will converge with Pitt's motley group at the film's climax. Diane Kruger is on hand as German movie star Bridget Von Hammersmark and gives her best film performance ever. She is very effective in her scenes where she must convince the Nazis of her loyalty to them. So the acting is not the problem here, it's the way Tarantino filmed this so close to being a very good film. Now I love good dialogue in a film, but here Quentin kinda rambles and rambles. Two people will have a conversation that goes on and on and on. And most of it is subtitled. Now usually I don't have a problem with subtitles, but since Quentin wasn't going for realistic accuracy...once you see the climax involving Hitler, you'll know what I'm talking about, it shouldn't have been a problem to switch to English. Hell, even Colonel Landa says at one point in the film that he would prefer to speak in English. Also, the music score Quentin chose to use here is just wrong. It doesn't fit at all...it would be better suited in a spaghetti western. There is a nifty little scene in a German bar that turns into a bloodbath that is well executed and reminds you that Tarantino still can work it like no one else. And the climax just feels so wrong with so many unexpected deaths happening. Now I will watch Basterds again and maybe I will like it more, but right now, I'm just not feeling it. Talk of this being his best film ever is nonsense. There are spots in here that you will truly enjoy and then there are other scenes that will have you scratching your head. The guy playing Hitler was so over the top and cartoonish, you half expected his head to explode. And what the hell was horror director Eli Roth (Hostel) doing here. He plays the heavy hitting recruit dubbed The Jew Bear. And he does strike an intimidating presence taking out Nazis with a baseball bat, but every time he speaks, he sounds like your teen-age kid brother. Remember how Topher Grace sounded as Venom in Spider-Man 3? Well Roth is that bad. Don't quit your day job Eli. Anyway all Tarantino fans need to see this film at least once, but don't expect the very best. It's marginally entertaining in spurts. That's about all though.
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