year: 2009
rating: **

There are so many problems with this latest Quentin Tarantino flick I'll just ask one question to begin: Why were the "Basterds" - the scalp-hacking Nazi Hunting American Jews the film is named after - merely extras? We don't see them train, see them hunt, see their missions, learn their quirks, mannerisms, fears, strengths... they're merely in the background of an overall muddled picture. The title should have been HANS LANDA, since he - the flitting Nazi villain played nicely by Christopher Waltz - is not only the best character, but seems to be the ONLY character in the movie. A subplot involving a french girl who survived her family being killed by Landa, running a movie theater in disquise as a Frenchwoman, goes nowhere, for one because I couldn't connect her as the little girl who survived the original massacre - we see her hiding under the floorboards only a few times in the opening which didn't carry on to her other scenes. I just didn't feel enough for her to really WANT the revenge she garners: involving her theater full of the top dog Nazis, including Adolf himself, once again played by an actor going way over-the-top. At this point in history we all know Nazis were evil, but... perhaps when making a film about Nazis being tortured a filmmaker should REMIND US SEVERAL TIMES of their evil more than just a swastika on their uniforms. Brad Pitt's character, the redneck leader of the Basterds, has no overall bearing (he just talks a lot), and other side-characters (a British officer; a German actress double-agent; and a knife-wielding German serial killer) are thrown in that we're supposed to care about but end up meaning close to nothing. Tarantino builds tension like a sleeping dog getting a fire up its ass: with either endless bouts of boring dialog (subtitled no less) that WAY TOO SUDDENLY become loud jarring massacres, with no in-between. And Tarantino ends up knocking himself off at times, for instance: a drawn-out scene in a tavern/pub involving a British officer imitating a German POSSIBLY being caught by a Nazi soldier for having a suspicous accent; then, towards the end of the film, before the climax when things REALLY MATTER, Brad Pitt, meeting the MAIN VILLIAN, pretends to be Italian (purposely not trying very hard) and it's played-out like something from a John Hughes film... which makes you wonder why the Tavern scene mattered in the first place. I'm afraid the great QT has lost his touch... see DEATHPROOF for more PROOF of this theory. Gone are the days of RESERVOIR DOGS and JACKIE BROWN (and, yes, PULP FICTION). Gads, even the beginning title sequence (something that Tarantino usually does so well) is plain boring: black screen with titles and a hollow slow-paced Spagetthi Western score. And the casting of Eli Roth as the bat-weilding "crazy" basterd is a complete joke. (Quentin, hire REAL actors, not your director-buddies, buddy.) And to note, there is a 1978 Italian film called INGLORIOUS BASTARDS which has only the title in common. That movie, starring Bo Svenson and Fred Williamson, unlike this mess ACTUALLY CENTERS on the characters the film's named after.

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