Tarantino?s films always have a certain anachronistic quality to them: they take place during a particular time period, yet none of the characters seem to portray the qualities or mannerisms of people during that period and, thus, seem strangely out of place. However, this method has proved to be successful in the past due to Tarantino?s uncanny ability to completely ignore the conventionality of the real world and, instead, bring life to a new and exciting alternative world where characters speak poetically, improbability becomes the new likelihood, and Mexican standoffs are commonplace. With his latest endeavor, ?Inglourious Basterds,? Tarantino?s distinctive ability shines through once again with perhaps his most ambitious film to date.
?Inglourious Basterds? is a World War II movie like none you?ve ever seen. Most of the time, you?ll completely forget the fact that you?re even watching a War movie, as, deep down, this isn?t really a War movie at all; rather, what we?re given is an eclectic mixture of genres (action, comedy, drama) blended with Tarantino?s typical fan-boyish references to the nostalgic films and sub-genres of his past. Both the spaghetti western and the grind house film movements demonstrate their presence throughout the film and help to develop the quirky and eccentric characters we?ve become accustomed to seeing in Tarantino?s previous films. Lt. Aldo Raine, played by Brad Pitt, is one such character. Raine is the all-American southerner who just happens to also be Jewish. This unique dichotomy of traits necessitates a hatred of Germans (and, more specifically, Nazis) and thus motivates Raine to lead an exclusive group of Nazi haters called the ?Inglourious Basterds? whose sole business is ?killin? Nazis.?
Oddly enough, I found that the most captivating scenes didn?t include Pitt or any of the other primary members of the ?Basterds? at all; instead, the majority of the film?s memorable sequences feature Col. Hans Landa, played by Christopher Waltz, a ?Jew hunting? Nazi detective whose ability to methodologically turn seemingly casual discourses into rigorous interrogations is truly remarkable. In essentially every scene Waltz is in, you have a strange feeling that at any moment something bad is going to happen, which manifests a constant feeling of anxiety, creating an almost omnipresent edge-of-your-seat type of experience throughout most of the film.
?Inglourious Basterds,? unfortunately, is not without its faults. While the film starts off and ends with spectacularly well-directed and suspenseful scenes, the slightly overly long running time, featuring a few unnecessary extended scenes (mostly in the second chapter), tends to disrupt the otherwise smooth flow and thus makes the pace seem marginally inconsistent at times. As mentioned before, the film features several astonishing sequences (and some of Tarantino?s best), some of the more notable ones include: the opening chapter, the rendezvous bar scene, and the ending Theater scene. However, the weakest points in the film are the scenes interconnecting these aforementioned sequences, which at times feel like they?re there for the single purpose of moving the characters from one place to another, or solely for Tarantino to indulge in his signature masturbatory character obsessions.
?Basterds? is not for everyone. It is violent, unrelenting, and its completely inaccurate portrayal and glamorization of events may put off or offend some viewers unfamiliar with Tarantino?s style. That being said, most viewers should have a lot of fun watching the film. It is smart, daring, and contains mostly all of the previous elements that Tarantino so admirably captured in his previous films. It features strong performances (including perhaps the best performance in any Tarantino film to date by Christopher Waltz), sharp writing, and unparalleled suspense. Though not perfect, it is one of the better films to come out this year.
Epic Level 4 out of 5 Stars.
Derek, Epic Ego Film Correspondent