Movie Review: Inglourious Basterds (2009)
After the first time I watched Inglourious Basterds, my reaction was "that was pretty good, but Tarantino's done a lot better". But now that I've seen it three times, I'm debating whether or not it's the best movie he's ever made...and this is coming from someone who thinks Pulp Fiction is one of the five best movies of all-time.
Right after this movie came to theaters, I reviewed it and gave it an 8.0…basically, 8.0 means it had some serious problems but I was still pretty entertained. I’m not really sure what I was thinking by scoring this lower than movies like District 9 and Zombieland, but that’s not going to happen this time.
It’s possible that I was a little bit put off the first time I watched it because Inglourious Basterds is really different than most of Tarantino’s other stuff. Tarantino is always daring and adventurous in his vision. You can put your party bets on the fact that his next film could easily be completely different from anything he has ever done before. He does not hesitate to push the boundaries. He really succeeded with Inglourious Basters. Even though the movie is still split up into chapters like just about anything Tarantino, what makes this different is that the chapters are in sequential order. The only problem I had with Pulp Fiction was that most of the movie seems kinda pointless since they’re basically just scenes thrown together in a random order…here, that isn’t a problem at all. This kinda makes me want to rewatch Jackie Brown — it has more in common with Inglourious Basterds than any other Tarantino film, and maybe I’ll warm up to that more after a few viewings (I’d only give that a 6 or maybe a 7 after the first viewing).
Another reason I probably didn’t like it as much the first time around was because the trailers are really deceiving. The trailers make it seem like the whole movie is nothing but Brad Pitt & the Basterds going around killin’ natzis — and that’s really not what it’s like. Brad Pitt is awesome in this movie, he’s hilarious whenever he’s on screen — but, contrary to what the trailers show you, he probably gets the 3rd-most screentime of anyone.
The real main characters of this movie are Shoshanna (played by Melanie Laurent) and Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz). They give the best performances out of anyone in this movie — Christoph Waltz deserves all the hype he’s been getting for Best Supporting Actor, and I really have no idea why Melanie Laurent isn’t getting any consideration for Best Actress. I haven’t seen The Blind Side, but based on what I’ve seen from Sandra Bullock in the past there’s no ****ing way she did a better job than Melanie Laurent here. It’s really no coincidence that the only part of the film I don’t like — the bar scene — doesn’t have Pitt, Waltz, or Laurent in it. Diane Kruger didn’t do a bad job by any means, but she’s not on the same level as the other three.
Basically, what Tarantino did here was keep the best parts of his movies and drop the things that many people dislike. Despite what I said earlier, this does still feel like a Tarantino film — the dialogue is great, it’s violent, and he uses music very well (I really can’t emphasize the music thing enough — I can watch the beginning of chapter 5 over and over again, thanks in large part to how much the music makes the scene better).
My biggest complaint with the movie before was that I thought the bar scene was ridiculously long and dragged on forever. Even though I still think it could have been cut a little shorter, it’s nowhere near as long as I used to think it was. It’s not even bad enough for me to deduct a half a point. Every time I watch Inglourious Basterds, I like it a lot more than I did the time before. After I watch it a few more times, it’s possible that Inglourious Basterds will replace Pulp Fiction as my favorite Tarantino movie — and I never thought anything would do that.