Review by J.T. Johnson
For almost a decade, writer and director Quentin Tarantino was working on a massive screenplay set during World War II and inspired by both WWII films and Spaghetti Westerns. He often put the script to the side for various reasons such as not being able to nail down a perfect ending and having to go off to make the “Kill Bill” films. Tarantino claimed that he wanted this film to be his masterpiece and in 2009, he finally got to make bring the “Inglourious Basterds” to the big screen.
Now, I love this film but if you read my first review for this movie (which can be found HERE), you would see that I most definitely didn’t think that it was his masterpiece. At the time, I just thought that compared to other Tarantino films, it was the weakest. However, I’ve watched the movie a few times since then and my love for it has grown exponentially. In fact, after the most recent viewing for this review, I’ve come to realize that this may be my third favorite Tarantino film after “Pulp Fiction” and “Django Unchained”.
The movie is an alternate history film where a group of Nazi hunters known as the Bastards viciously take out Nazi soldiers. In the meantime, a young Jewish theater owner in Nazi-occupied France is plotting her own revenge after the massacre of her family four years earlier. The man that all of them come to encounter is the diabolical and oddly charming Colonel Hans Landa, known infamously as “The Jew Hunter”.
The movie contains all of the right elements of a Tarantino film, from nonlinear storytelling to clever dialogue that has been carefully crafted. The characters are also engaging though morally ambiguous. Yes, even the heroes are capable of doing terrible things, but they’re doing them to the Nazis, so fuck ‘em.
The movie contains plenty of violence, but to be honest, it’s so cartoonish and over-the-top that anyone who could possibly get offended by it needs to get over themselves. I laughed at most of the violence because it is purposefully presented in a darkly humorous way. Anyway, back to the characters.
Brad Pitt is a standout as Aldo “The Apache” Raine, the leader of the Bastards who gives such an energetic performance that he stands out in every scene that he is in. The only other actor that can really say that is Christoph Waltz as Hans Landa in a role that earned him his first Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Most of the other characters know the Jew Hunter and they fear him.
However, Waltz plays the character with a surprising amount of charm, but make no mistake that this asshole is a snake that is ready to strike at a moments notice. His charms are only surpassed by his absolute viciousness. He may be talking to you as though nothing is wrong before turning to more serious matters and ordering his men to come in and blow away innocent Jews his discovers hiding underneath the floor. While Hans may be one of Tarantino’s most charming characters, he is also one of the director’s cruelest creations at the same time.
The movie looks and feels like a WWII film from yesteryear, though it is being viewed through Tarantino’s unique lens. The movie is beautiful, funny and violent in the best ways possible. It may not necessarily be Tarantino’s masterpiece the way he wanted it to be, but it is still a damn fine film in the Tarantino library.