Inglorious Basterds: *** 1/4 (out of 4)
Reviewing a Quentin Tarantino movie is intimidating. It's easy to come out of his movies with easily articulated opinions; it's a lot harder to do so and not come across as some under-educated buffoon. And so, to get it out of the way - no, I probably did not spot every reference, catch every in-joke, or even understand every song choice. I enjoy film, but was not a cinema studies major, and I am relatively new to the review game. So please forgive me if I come across as a bit of a film illiterate; but at least I do have a unique perspective here.
Inglorious Basterds is an escapist, intense fantasy flick about World War II. It is violent, funny, and foolishly fictional. The characters are violent and over-the-top at every turn, the accents overly pronounced, the story nihilistic and fairly grotesque. The visual style is distinct, and the dialogue mixes the vulgar and high-brow fairly evenly.
And what did it remind me of? Well, the Tarantino feel was certainly there, but that wasn't the main thing. No, what it felt like was a Garth Ennis book: one of his World War II ones, a combination of "The Adventures of the Rifle Brigade" and his "War Stories" books, with just a touch of the characters from his farcical books such as Hitman. Just for good measure, the visual style looked to be influenced by Carlos Ezquerra, a frequent collaborator. And, of course, the content of the story itself fit that mold too...
That's not to say that this movie didn't have a strong theatrical feel to it. The speeches, the depth, the interconnectedness, and most of all the sheer tension of the movie, all of these clearly showed Tarantino's fingerprints. But still, that comic book view shone through, both with the excess violence and the combination of anti-heroes and super-villains populating the story.
Past that... well, most of the parts that I really liked about the movie are hard to discuss without resorting to outright spoilers. The one moment where I outright burst out laughing was the Scarface reference; most of the rest of the movie I sat worried and tense, clearly as intended. It would probably have worked better as either a slightly less fictional movie, or as a slightly more fictional one; the final balance was a bit distracting.
All in all, it was a good movie, perhaps his best since Pulp Fiction (I wasn't a huge fan of Death Proof, Kill Bill was mostly just frustrating, and Jackie Brown was a bit too forgettable). But I still haven't made up my mind if I actually want to see it again.