As an enormous fan of Quentin Tarantino?s work (with Pulp Fiction, specifically, being my second favorite movie of all time), I?d been looking forward to Inglourious Basterds quite a bit. Somewhat apprehensive, given the premise of the film, but for the most part, I went in expecting to have a pretty good time. Now, as the end credits started to roll, all I could say was ?Damn.?
First of all, it should be noted that the trailers for Basterds are very misleading. Watching them, I expected an almost action comedy primarily about this group of soldiers going around, killing Nazis. And while there is some of that (along with its fair share of hilarious moments), that really isn?t the focus of the movie. In fact, the Basterds themselves only take up about a quarter of the film (if not less). The real heart of this movie lies in Shosanna, as she?s virtually the only character who?s given any backstory. As a result, about 80% of the dialogue in this movie is subtitled. With that being said, it all plays out extraordinarily well, and I greatly respect Tarantino?s choice to include said subtitles. Also, the more that I think about it, the more I appreciate the less-than-expected number of brutal moments in this film. They?re so sudden, so few and far between, that when they actually do happen, you find them all the more enjoyable.
The acting in this film is superb all across the board. With his thick Tennessee accent, Brad Pitt is gut-bustingly hilarious as Aldo Raine, and contrary to what post people have said, I highly enjoyed Eli Roth?s portrayal of Raine?s fellow Basterd, Donny. Mélanie Laurent is surprisingly exceptional as Shosanna, delivering that sense of both innocence and toughness. Even Mike Myers, who I wrote off as an actor years ago, is solid during his cameo appearance. However, the real show-stealer here is Christoph Waltz as Colonel Hans Landa. On top of being able to act well in several different languages, he manages to do what almost every great, classic villain manages to do, and that is to accomplish being both charming and menacing at once. Personally, I believe that he should, at the very least, get an Oscar nomination for his performance.
The movie is extremely dialogue-heavy, and again, without much action to speak of. Also, the majority of characters came across as somewhat cartoonish to me (especially Pitt?s). So, I can understand why this film may not be for everybody, and even partially why some may feel ?cheated?, given the way in which it was advertised. That being said, I thought that the dialogue was heated and clever, and found that the ?cartoonishness? of the characters added to the film?s needed sense of humor.
For me to give a film a perfect score is rare enough as it is, but this is the first time I?ve given one to two films in a row (having seen District 9 last weekend). It?s been a damn good year for films so far, with Coraline, Up, and the aforementioned District 9 ranking somewhere in my all-time Top 15. And while I?ll have to see it a few more times to say for sure, Inglourious Basterds is perhaps my fifth favorite movie of all time. Aside from last year?s Bolt, never has a movie surpassed my expectations by such a great amount. Go see it, right now.