Inglourious Basterds (Devil’s Advocate Review)
I am the Devil’s Advocate this week, but I’m putting my initial thoughts front and center soldiers, and then I’ll get into Kill Bill, hack and slash mode for the DA part.
Right away, I’ll put this out there, into the ether…this was a brilliant film. I absolutely dug it in a big way. Tarantino is in top form, with what has been billed a war film, but we all know better. It’s another revenge film. Revenge wrought upon the Nazis by the people they have tormented. It is revenge and it is justified. Just like Kill Bill or even Pulp Fiction (Bruce Willis’ thread in the film was very revenge driven).
The story is grand in scale and the acting matches it to a tee. Brad Pitt is, for lack of a better word, fun in his role (I’ll touch on this more in the latter part of my review) and director/actor Eli Roth brings the much needed intensity a film of this caliber requires. Another actor worth mentioning is Michael Fassbender, whose appearance is brief (in Tarantino terms, a solid half hour of screen-time is brief), but commands the viewers attention the entire time he is present. And Christoph Waltz must, and I mean must, receive a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his role. He was utterly brilliant as the Nazi detective, Col. Hans Landa and talk about demanding (he spoke four different languages throughout the course of the film).
An overall well plotted, masterfully directed, and cleverly acted film. I award it 4 1/2 pitchforks out of five, with no trepidation whatsoever.
Did I say “no trepidation whatsoever”? That can’t be true now, can it? I am the Devil’s Advocate after all.
Inglourious Basterds is a very dialogue heavy film, which I love. I am a sucker for well written, well delivered words. There were points, though, where it was almost too much. Many of the scenes went on far longer than necessary, because of conversations that frankly could’ve been condensed. Why would I restrict Tarantino in that manner?
One thing I wish that I could’ve seen much more of in this movie was the Basterds being bastards. We’re introduced to this rag tag group of Jewish-American soldiers the same time we’re introduced to the premise of the film. As Brad Pitt’s Lt. Aldo Raines says,
“We’re gonna be doing one thing and one thing only… killing Nazis.”
Unfortunately, the movie itself didn’t hear that speech, because we get very few Nazi killing scenes involving the Basterds. Instead we see a great deal of subterfuge and planning, but little action. The premise of the film is overshadowed by Tarantino’s desire to grant audiences the best possible verbal discourse. Again, not a bad thing, but it really depends on where the trailer for the film placed your expectations.
As for the acting, I meant what I said. It was superb. Parts were played to perfection. That said, even with no Sam Jackson in the film (he did a bit of narration, however), there was still a lot of scenery being chewed. I mentioned that Brad Pitt was “fun” in his role, but that comes out of the “overacted” and “over indulged” part of the ballpark. This of course could have been entirely intentional, but Pitt did jump head first into Raines, with a zeal that could be viewed as either wonderful method acting or extremely histrionic. I like to believe it’s method acting, but an argument can easily be made for the latter.
Is Inglourious Basterds an important film about WWII or the Holocaust? Far from it. It will, however, speak to audiences. It will speak, and speak, and speak some more. That is Tarantino’s bread and butter, though. When people ponder on his films it typically invokes thoughts of the conversations that took place, rather than the action. And if action and violence are what you seek, this may not be your best choice. Again, I’m a dialogue guy, but even I wanted to see those soldiers collecting their hundreds of Nazi scalps.
Even as the Devil’s Advocate I can’t bring myself to give this film less than 3 1/2 pitchforks out of five.
It has its shortcomings, but it is still a solid film.