Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Action,Comedy,Drama Rated: Inglorious Basterds (2009)

Rated: Inglorious Basterds (2009)

Inglorious Basterds would have been a great movie if Quentin “Q” Tarantino had not been involved. Might as well replace the “Q” with “self indulgence”, because that’s pretty much what most of his previous films have boiled down to. Too often do his films get bogged down with pointless details and set up, at the expense of pace and meaning. Thus, I personally find that some segments of his movies are really good, and then others are really bad.

This is exactly the case with Inglorious Basterds, although I will say that there are no bad sequences in this film, just pointless ones. Its as if Tarantino thinks that in order to make his story more believable it is necessary for a movie to focus on small details that everyone on earth experiences on a daily basis. Yes Quentin, we know what a dessert pastry looks like. We do not need a close up of it and then a shot of a character chewing it. Don’t get me wrong, I understand film as a form of art, but really showing every detail is unnecessary and in a way insulting to the audience. People have brains and can make their own deductions about what is happening and why it happened. We don’t need to be fed one kibble at a time so we have time to digest.

Luckily for Mr. Q, Inglorios Basterds doesn’t altogether fail under its own weight, thanks to fantastic acting and memorable characters, even if those characters seem to die quickly, rendering their previous exploits pointless (another staple of Q cinema) . I will say that this movie isn’t as nearly action packed, humorous, and rewarding as it should have been (and was advertised as), but memorable acting, signature Q blood and guts, and a beautifully created climax make it watchable.
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Synopsis: The movie does take forever to go anywhere; there are pleanty of side stories and seemingly endless dialog segments that are little more than witty ways to take up time. But here is the plot; a group of Jewish-American soldiers called “the bastards”, lead by Lt. Aldo “The Apache” Raine, are sent into German occupied France to wreck havoc on the Nazis before the Americans start their invasion. Eventually, intelligence reports come to learn that the Germans are holding a special screening for a new movie that also acts as a celebration of Nazi culture. As a result, all the highest Nazi officials will be there, including Hitler and Joeseph Goebbels, the head of Nazi propaganda. “The bastards” are then ordered to burn down the theater during the event, essentially killing off all of German high command. What makes it interesting is a Nazi colonel, Hans Landa, who is quickly sniffing out the trouble and wrecking havoc on “the bastards'” plans, making their attempts more difficult and futile. Why this takes 153 minutes to play out is a mystery to me…

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Acting:
Although Brad Pitt (Ocean’s Eleven) is the main draw for this movie (he plays Lt. Aldo Raine), it is Christoph Waltz that steals the show as Hans Landa. Christoph Waltz is a German Actor and Inglorious Basterds is his first major release here in America. His portrayal of Hans Landa is perfect. There is no other word to describe it. The way he creates an air of superiority with his character is the anchor for the entire movie, especially since many of the other Nazi leaders are depicted in a sort of comical manner. Melanie Laurent plays the owner of the theater, her chracter being a Jewish survivor of Landa’s efforts to hunt down Jews in France. Laurent does a fantastic job as well, and even though she does not have much dialog, she shows her emotions well with body language and facial expressions. Brad Pitt is pretty much comic relief in this movie with his accent mimicking that of former president George W. Bush, and it looks like he is having fun in the role, so you can’t help but laugh with him. I will say though, that it is refreshing to see him in this sort of roll, something similar to the odd ball characters he played in 12 Monkeys  or Se7en. Finally, smaller but still important roles are played convincingly enough by Diane Kruger, Daniel Bruhl, Eli Roth, and most impressively Michael Fassbender as a British luitenant aiding “the Bastards”. Also, Mike Meyers makes a pointless cameo appearance for no discernible reason. I don’t think his role was meant to be funny, but everyone laughed at him anyway; “Hey look! Its Mike Meyers! Lol.” (25/25)

Script/Plot: Although the basic plot is easy enough to follow and believable, the problem is that there are so many inconsequential happenings that the movie tends to side track at times. So much of the movie is spent on set up that you are left wanting more.  I think this issue is more of a directing choice than a script issue, even though some of the dialogue is tedious in its formalities and detail. Speaking of dialog, it still has some of the famous Q wit, especially a bar scene where, while undercover, “the Bastards” are sniffed out and try to talk their way out of it. These few moments make up for the mindless slop in between and help to make the movie bearable. (15/25)

Direction:  As mentioned above, Q’s self-indulgences seem to take over for much of the movie. We get his chapter headings, his bizarre titles, his bizarre music, and mostly pointless Guy Ritchie-like flashbacks explaining a chracter’s decision or the reasoning behind a plot twist.  Nevertheless, aside from the tediousness as mentioned above, Tarantino does do an excellent job directing. His use of bright colors at times and dull colors at others helps set a tone, as do his total lack of establishing shots (which help set a straight-to-business feel making something seem important….even if it is not straight-to-business or important) The climax scene is by far the most memorable and meaningful in the film, and probably worth seeing the movie for if nothing else. It plays brilliantly off of previos scenes and is epic in color, sound, and scale, even adding a touch of irony to the film to cap it all off. (20/25)

Special Effects/Music/X-Factor: The X-factor of this movie is the edginess it gets from its director.  Since the Kill Bill saga took this edginess to an extreme, we’ve already seen all of Q’s tricks, but they do help to break up the movie a bit and add some excitement at times. Also like his previous films, Q’s choice in music is bizarre, but somehow it works well, adding drama and bombast to contrast the slow and dull dialog scenes. Finally, the special effects are quite good. Yes, the gore is a bit ridiculous at times and it makes you wonder if it is necessary (especially since this movie is not lacking the color red in the first place) , but what Q wants Q gets. The special effects come together nicely at the end climax scene in a convincing and frightening but nevertheless entertaining way. (23/25)

The Verdict: 

What Kept Me Watching: Great drama and comedy, especially from Waltz, and a killer ending…literally.

What Killed It: You can’t ignore the curse of Q. So much set up and focus is put on pointless situations and short-lived characters that the movie is bogged down and slow at times, making it feel every bit as long as its 153 minute screen time seems.

Summary: The good and the bad of Quentin Tarantino all rolled up in one movie, fortunately made watchable by Christoph Waltz.

Final Rating: (83/100) = B

4 thoughts on “Rated: Inglorious Basterds (2009)”

  1. Excellent review! I love to read reviews that are as well thought out and as well displayed as this one is. My sincere “bravo” to you!

    If you wouldn’t mind, I wrote a review on this movie today and posted it shortly before yours. I’m curious as to your thoughts on mine. Your introduction seems to be (albeit unintentionally) responding to my claim that Tarantino’s films as works of art make them worth seeing, even if the plot or the violence does not appeal to the audience.

    Again, I loved your review. Thanks for taking the time!
    ~Felicia

  2. For me the movie was 2 hours and 33 minutes too long.

    I think Tarantino would be better off making commercials for pastries and milk.

  3. Somehow I think someone’s head would still get cut off or Samuel L Jackson would be screaming profanities at the top of his lungs.

  4. A lot of good points, especially the statement that the film was promoted to be much more violent and humorous than it turned out to be (which is quite true).

    However, personally I found the long scenes of dialogue very beneficial in terms of helping to develop the characters, and they served as an excellent juxtaposition to the intense scenes of violence and brutality that often followed them.

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