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.