Reviews: Inglourious Basterds

Must-avoid Tarantino film

I can describe the movie in one word: Awful.

Problem the first: Suspense scenes are way too drawn out. After awhile the viewer will feel like screaming "Expose them or let them escape! The scene's gone on long enough!"

Problem the second: The act structure makes it feel like the initial cut of the movie ran too long (And since this is a 2 1/2 hour movie, that's saying something) and the director needed to cut out all transitional and character development scenes, leaving behind just the major events.

Problem the third: The notion that an officer who is loyal enough to fly into a rage and strangle a mole with his bare hands for treason would then turn around and betray his country to the mole's associates before the body is cold.

Problem the fourth: This is actually two stories, which do not mesh well together, being turned into one movie. Only one major character is relevant to both stories. The only thing they have in common is they both end with destruction in a certain theater on the same night. The title characters are actually in the story with the least screen time.

The film would have been much better if the stories were separate films: One movie, a violent comedy, about the Basterds, a Jewish-American Commando unit sent behind enemy lines to commit atrocities and demoralize the enemy, and the Nazi's efforts to stop them. The other, a drama, about Shoshona, a French Jew who escaped execution by the SS and became a theater owner under a new identity, only to find herself unwillingly courted by a German war hero and ending up with a perfect opportunity for revenge. If you need allied soldier-types in the second film, add a French Resistance cell that thinks Shoshona is a collaborator and wanting to strike a blow against Germany by killing a famous sniper and his presumed mistress, only to learn that they hold back for a time, a much wider selection of targets will present themselves.

Don't buy. Don't rent. Don't watch.

Not glorious at all

So from the start, I had a feeling it would be some kind of western — the music in the beginning reminded me of Ennio Morricone — and I had also read about it being Tarantino's big epic Spaghetti Western — but I had forgotten up until I was reminded by the score. As i watched the opening scene, I was constantly thinking "This is a lot like Sergio Leone's films". The almost casual dialogue (Tarantino at his best) between Landa and the french farmer helped to build the tension in the scene. Like any good Spaghetti Western, there is a lot of scene setting. There are long stretches of film where nothing (in the action sense) happens punctuated by short bursts of horrific violence. And the violence was horrific. Characters are introduced only to be shortly killed thereafter. A memorable scene that stands out for me is when a few of the Basterds are in a bar where several Germans are having a drink and there is a short mexican standoff that ends with everyone (except for a movie star) getting gunned down.

I'm not sure what Tarantino was trying to do with this movie. It definitely wasn't an antiwar movie; I don't think it's supposed to really be about anything. It's just a story that he wanted to tell. You can't root for the Americans. In my opinion, they are just as bad as the Nazis they're scalping — i would go so far as to say that there are two villains in the movie: Aldo and Landa. The scene that really got to me was the forest scalping where the German troop leader didn't want to expose his men to the horrors of the Basterds and chose to die by bat.

I'm not sure how I feel about the movie. What did surprise me was the ending. I had no idea it was an alternate history story. That was pretty cool. I like it when the heroes go out in an explosion.

I recommend it, but I don't think I'll be watching it again.