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So I Finally Saw.. Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Zechs sets his sights on the Inglourious Basterds (2009). {nomultithumb}


I'm a lover of movies; in fact, I love all kinds of movies. Amongst them all, action movies especially are my passion. However, I also do enjoy sci-fi, drama, comedy, and horror. As for romance? Eh, if the babe is hot it might be deemed possibly watchable for me. Though even then, that so did not help me when I watched The English Patient (1996). Otherwise, I rather watch Batman & Robin (1997) for 24 hours straight than see a cheesy romance flick. Still, I cannot see every movie known to man when they come out, or only hear good stuff about them. Therefore, I'll put my behind down and review the flick. Enter this column, where I finally state was the movie truly worth the price of viewing or not.



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Oh how I wanted to see Inglourious Basterds (2009) when it came out in August. One of the few summer movies of last year I so wanted to see, but couldn't given I didn't have adequate funds due to lack of hours at work. Well Christmas time came I had the dough and bought this movie for my dear old dad (he oh so enjoys World War II flicks). I was going to write a review for it then, but due to my computer conking out on me and then Toho Month this review just kept getting pushed back. Well, not anymore, given I am reviewing movies that I have long been in my most wanted list (Black Dynamite continues to allude me). Though my reasons besides the fact being I also love WW II movies is that this is from the insane mind of Quentin Tarantino. My favorites of his movies would have to be True Romance (1993), Pulp Fiction (1994), and of course my absolute favorites the Kill Bill series (2003, 2004).

Inglourious Basterds is a simple tale with it about three groups of characters and their stories all converging upon one magical night where a Nazi produced movie will debut with all the heads of the Reich in attendance. Two of them are out to slaughter the whole lot, while the other is providing security with the other former two trying to avoid the later party.

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I'll just get out of the way with the obvious reason to watch this film and one of the best things about this film that goes ahead of other Tarantino movies and that is the character of Colonel Hans Lanada of the SS, played with slithering edge of wit and intellect by Christopher Waltz. As anyone who knows me, I just love a good bad guy, and Landa is probably the greatest character ever seen thus far in a Tarantino movie. The first twenty minutes of this movie devoted to him are exceptional. Watching this viper hunt for his prey is something to really behold. The methodical yet utterly charming nature of Landa is really something. To seem him do what he does in the first act really leaves an impact with you. When he appears throughout the film and in his second appearance I've found myself on edge and absolutely mesmerized wondering if he knew who Shosanna really was, which for me is a rarity. Not since Hannibal Lector of Manhunter (1986) and then chillingly in Silence of the Lambs (1991) and Heath Ledger's Joker from the Dark Knight (2008). Perhaps it's the calculating and unpredictable nature of these characters is why I find myself unnerved by them. So for Waltz to do just this with Landa major kudos for both he and Tarantino in bringing this character to life.

The other big performance two performances that made this movie work for me was Melanie Laurent as Shosanna and once more Til Schweiger once more going mostly wordless and yet utterly bad ass as the German born Basterd Sgt. Hugo Stiglitz. The reason I enjoy Laurent's portrayal is save for Waltz's as Landa, she gets the juicy character bits in this. Given that she's a Jewish hiding amongst in plain sight from the Nazis is one thing. But the moment Landa arrives to talk to her is really where Laurent works her acting chops. To see her utterly terrified and just trying to muster whatever strength she can to continue on and end this dialogue with Landa is just something. Hell after that scene where she's cracking at least and gasping, I even gasped given how tense the scene was. I'm really surprised at the fact that nobody really credits her as much in reviews. I just wish there was at least one more scene between Landa and her because every other scene with her afterward didn't have that edge as it did. Instead that transferred to the other group wanting to crash the Nazi Premiere, aka the Basterds.


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Again, I really have to hunt down more movies that Schweiger is in. This is the third movie that I've seen of him that I've truly enjoyed (the first being Joe & Max and then as shown recently in my reviews the Replacement Killers). Being one of the few Basterds who gets a full origin via on screen, Stiglitz is a Nazi Killing Machine. I really wish we could have seen him work more of his utter magic in the slaughter of more Nazis and in part that is my main flaw with this movie. There are so many damn great characters in this movie that I want to see more of them with Stiglitz being one of them. As I said before the fear and on edge nature transfers over to the Basterds and in particular a scene involving good old Hugo where they're trying to pass as Nazi officers while having to talk their way past several drunk soldiers then an SS agent. Though he has not much dialogue in the scenes, Stiglitz just brings such an aggressive temperament that you know the dude is just going to crack and start killing Nazis just for the hell of it.

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The other performances are just there though honestly some just as memorable, though again if only they had so many damn more scenes. Brad Pitt as Lt. Adol Raine brings a I don't know why, but for some reason reminds me a lot of Errol Flynn-like quality to his performance in this movie. I mean that's a good thing, but he's utterly outshined by a lot of other characters. Still, he commands such a goofball-like and psychotic hatred of them Nazis, that I hope to God if there's a sequel or prequel to this movie that Tarantino gives us more background on why Aldo has such a passion for killing and branding any living Nazis that he spares. Eli Roth is alright though not as memorable as Schweiger's Stiglitz. I did enjoy Michael Fassbander as Lt. Hicox, but he had such a short role that he was another character I just wanted to see so much more of, but enough of that.

I know some had issues with Mike Myers cameo as a British commanding officer, but really other than his voice there was no real distraction to me of it. I really can't see why people are distracted of his performance to me I didn't even realize it was him until he went about telling Hicox about being, “That's a good old boy.” and instantly recognized his voice. I'll have to admit here that I honestly never had a problem with a performance of Myers (though that's probably because I never saw the Love Guru) and will worship him forever for his pair of Wayne's World movies.

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The direction and atmosphere provided by Tarantino feels different then what we're used to seeing from him and in some cases fits right into his style. I for one truly treasured his homage opening to the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly's (1966) intro to villain in that Angel Eyes. I started to know right then and there via that if Tarantino was going for honoring shot such as that. Though for me and others the greatest weapon Tarantino wields is always his dialogue. At first I was surprised at how little action there was in this movie after how hyped up the way he made this (originally this movie was to be what Stallone's The Expendables currently is. A movie that features just about every 80s action star known to man) and the trailers showed. Still, the dialogue in this film just absolutely rules. My only wish is somehow Tarantino could have smuggled in one comic book reference, but I digress it's just something I love when the occasion in his film that such a thing happens. I have to admit I was disappointed at first of the lack of action, and I guess it's because of what he did in Kill Bill series as to why. Though these are two different beasts Tarantino has for most part, save for some of the spaghetti western shots and cues. So my complaint is minor which I won't hold any begrudge to it.

Probably the final thing that I loved of this film was just the unpredictable nature. For something set in World War II and from the usual predictable ride I'm used too in watching these films, I found this wasn't the case here. But then that's the genius of Tarantino, his films are kinda chaotic. You just never really know what's coming even though you have a set history.

I really have to admit upon re-watching this film does get a whole lot better. You pick up looks and things that one didn't pick up before (a spoilery example would how Landa knows who Shosanna truly is via the order of milk for her and then right after he asks her of one last question then retracting it. From that moment he right there make's the choice that he does that impacts the rest of the film. Yet still toys with the poor woman like she's utterly nothing to him). But that's the joy of a Tarantino movie. You just catches things and see scenes in a new light. Though given this film is just so ripe with memorable characters it just make's another view all the more enjoyable. Plus giving us one of heck of a villain in Hans Landa. So all hail Herr Tarantino!


5 out of 5

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About the Author - Zechs


Zechs is the lord and master of The Toy Shed, Character Spotlight, and Cartoon Reviews. He's also an aspiring comic book writer trying to get some of his works published on the Outhouse. If there's any greater quality to Zechs, it's that he's an avid fan of comic book characters and would defend them to the bitter end against the companies that use them wrongly. Zechs walks the lonely path in Chicagoland area.

 


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