Inglourious Basterds

January 8th, 2010

The first scene was terrific.

Cristoph Waltz was mesmerising.

I usually like Brad Pitt but he was totally forgettable in this.

I’m not sure whether the scene with Mike Myers impersonating Austin Powers impersonating a British general was awful or brilliant, but I tend towards the latter.

Some scenes went on really, really, REALLY long while achieving virtually nothing.

There is a very fine line between hilarious yet shocking shoot-outs in which everyone kills each other (TM), and just removing all your half-decent characters much too early.

There were times when peculiar looming close-ups would appear for no apparent reason. I wasn’t sure if he was riffing off something and I didn’t know what it was, or if it was just a mess. It certainly seemed a mess. An uncomfortable pile-up of western, war-time melodrama, and modernist ultra-brutal war story.

The trademark Tarantino BIG TITLES, strange cutaways, voice-overed montages, and apparently incongruous sound effects and music did not in this case contribute to the feeling of a coherent and cohesive whole.

There were further glimpses of quality, usually involving Cristoph Waltz.

But mostly it was a self-indulgent shambles.

Posted in film and tv by Joe Abercrombie on January 8th, 2010.

33 comments so far

  • harvb says:

    I really didn't like it either, and I thought I was a complete leper for thinking it. Everyone else I know loved it. I really like his other films – Reservoir Dogs remains one of my favourites – but IB just didn't do it for me.

    I think I went into it expecting a remake of The Dirty Dozen and ended up bitterly disappointed.

    Having said that, I thoroughly enjoyed Brad Pitt's scenes. If you thought he was good in that, watch Twelve Monkeys.

  • Chad says:

    Wow, between this, Star Trek and Avatar, you are showing that you are a better author than film critic.

    I agree with the assessment of Brad Pitt, but I thought the movie was very entertaining.

  • Ramah,
    Your self-justifying argument seems unassailable.

    I thought Brad Pitt was great in Twelve Monkeys. Didn't think he was great in this. And look, Chad agrees with me, and he knows everything, so I must be right.

  • Bombie says:

    Christoph Waltz. There's too much filler between his scenes, but once they arrive they really shine. It might not be Tarantino's best, but Hans Landa is his strongest, most complex and above all most interesting character yet. He'll be hard-pressed to top that.

  • chris says:

    The Basterds was the best film of '09 with the possible exception of Where the Wild Things Are.
    The 1st scene,Hans Landa,the bar room shootout,and a David Bowie make up sequence. All rich, creamy cinematic goodness.
    Except for Bradd Pitt.
    Why do people think he can act?
    He can't. (ok, I'll give you Floyd in True Romance but that was in the previous millenium!)

  • skottk says:

    The parts I liked I loved, but there were parts for which there's no better term than "self-indulgent" E.g., whenever Eli Roth was onscreen.
    On screen, Eli Roth:Inglourious::Tarantino:Pulp Fiction.
    Tarantino just seems to like featuring bad acting in his movies, or has a blindness to bad acting in himself or his really good buddies.

    Christoph Walz is amazing, no question. The list of "most terrifying draughts of whole milk in movie history" has his name at the top.
    Why hasn't anyone mentioned Mélanie Laurent yet? Her reaction shot after Landa walks away from the lunch table was one of the most amazing single facial expressions I have ever seen in a film. I thought her performance nearly equal to Walz's, as subtle as his was flamboyant.
    Brad Pitt wasn't _that_ bad, he was just thrown into sharp relief.

  • chris says:

    Melanie Laurent was lovely in this,shame she's been somwehat overshadowed by Waltzs great performance.
    Oh and to reiterate, Pitt cannot act!! Not just an opinion but pure fact!! He's a pretty face with great taste (wanted to be an interior designer so there you have it!)who gets lots of superb roles. This raises him from Keanu like levels to merely awful. Especially in 12 Monkeys!!

  • SkottK,
    Fair point, Laurent was good, but again, by far her best scene was the one with Waltz.

    Certainly the first scene was excellent (the pipe, in particular, was a masterstroke) and certainly it had its moments, which only made the fact that none of them were really linked together in any meaningful way the more frustrating for me. It didn't seem to know whether it wanted to be Dirty Dozen or Springtime for Hitler, and ended up hitting neither note properly. Plus towards the end even those things that had been working well seemed to come apart in the anonymous splatterfest. That Zoller was revealed to be a horrible arse rather than a nice bloke, as he had previously been painted, just seemed to rob his death of any importance. Landa throttling Hammersmark seemed gratuitous and very much out of character. As did him happily surrendering to a pair of psychos in the middle of a wood. Some evil genius that. And the scene where the cinema burned down as she cackled on the soundtrack and the basterds blazed away with tommy guns from hitler's box I just watched with baffled, bored resignation which seemed to go on for about half an hour. So yeah, a shambles.

    So I thought, anyway.

  • chris says:

    Yeah-Landa strangeling (spelling?) Hammersmark was the one part of the film I didn't like. Very gratutious and out of character.
    Still, Tarrantino's best film since Pulp.

  • Timo says:

    What has happened to Quentin's career? Or more like… what has happened to his ambition and passion?

    I think his career reached the high point of finesse with brilliant Jackie Brown. Now that was masterful storytelling in a package that does not have to be ashamed in the company of any classic film noir and that can be used as an example of perfect dance of scenes and timeline in the movie schools anywhere. After Jackie Brown I felt QT can reach any artistic mountaintop and keep evolving as a director beyond the old masters of the shadow and crime.


    Since Jackie Brown, QT seems to have lost the ambition. He uses the millions to make movies to point out to us what he used to dig when he was young and unknown geek in the videostore. Kill Bills, Death Proof and Inglorious Basterds are messy collages with the depth of an average music video. Sure, some invidual scenes work well, and some actors really step out, but as movies to last the lifetime they fail miserably. Forgettable theatrics that harshly underestimate the audience.

    To Quentin I just would like to say: thanks, you have now made your point. Believe us, we have also watched our classic italo westerns, samurai epics, Hong Kong shooters and kung fu movies, we have read our Commando comics, we know where you are coming from. Now give us something new, create something we haven't seen yet, challenge us.

    I don't think he heard me. According to Internet Movie Database, he is making Kill Bill 3.

  • Øystein says:

    OK, this is creepy. I watch the film, go upstairs, check the internet and find what? You've written my review!


  • Zafri Mollon says:

    Didn't like it either.

    Also really enjoyed your "reviews" of recent games (dragon age) and movies. While I liked both star trek and avatar, I did have reservations with both of them. Avatar more in terms of plot, and star trek more in terms of the little inconsistencies (many of which you pointed out).

    I didn't think that either of those were on par with district 9. Have you seen that one yet Joe?

  • Bloody Savage says:

    Nice review Joe, pretty much echoes my own thoughts. Christoph Waltz is electric in it; worth watching for him alone really.
    By the way, I bought Best Served Cold after watching it, and immediately put Hans Landa's face to Morveer, if not his accent.

  • chris says:

    Interesting that some people think Tarantinos career is going downhill, some people I'vs chatted with think its his first decent movie since Pulp(I disagree, Death Proof is his only film I wasn't to keen on). As nikst put its all opinion.

  • As far as Quentin goes, I think Reservoir Dogs was excellent, Pulp Fiction was absolutely magnificent, Jackie Brown, meh, didn't do much for me though that may have been more because I was disappointed at something so, I don't know, humdrum after Pulp Fiction. The two Kill Bills had their moments, but I'd kinda put them more or less in the self-indulgent shambles category too. So best film since Pulp Fiction, well, maybe, but that's a bit like saying the best Oasis album since Morning Glory. It ain't saying all that much.

    District 9 I loved. If you click on the caegory marker saying film and tv it should come up.

    Maybe you're in my head…?

  • Timo says:

    Actually Joe, I am damn surprised you did not like Jackie Brown. Since you are a storyteller yourself I could have bet my toenails that you would especially love the genius layered story of JB and the way it was told, Quentin honouring the author Elmore Leonard and showing the brilliance as a movie director at the same time.

    But it's true that people were definitely expecting something different after Pulp Fiction.

  • Øystein says:

    Well, if I'm in your head, why don't you transfer some money to my account? Would be nice..

    I could settle for a couple of signed books (preferably someone elses)

    Eagerly waiting…

  • Elfy says:

    The best film I saw in 2009. Waltz deserves an Oscar. I prefer Pitt when he's playing deranged thugs. It seems to suit his limited range better. He was one of the best things about Snatch as well.
    I keep waiting for Tarantino to put a foot wrong and aside from Deathproof he just doesn't seem to do so.

  • Anonymous says:

    Not a great film, but interesting like all of his. You never know what you are going to get, but there is always an experience!

  • Allan says:

    I love most tarantino films but hated this one.

    seriously if i wanted a lecture on German wartime films i would take a film class.

    it felt like at least half of the film was dedicted to talking about old german films i've never heard of and am never gonna watch.

    waltz was great. but almost fell asleep many times during the film. i kept waiting for some climactic scene or something to happen but the film just ended.

    very disappointing

  • Tim says:

    I had some issues with the film as well, but certainly not to the extent that you've expressed here; overall, I quite enjoyed it.

    However, I'm very surprised that you didn't like Jackie Brown, especially since it was a veritable masterclass in storytelling.

  • Anonymous says:

    Joe, hmmm … and I was just recommending Best Served Cold to a friend who said she loved the Basterds:)

    For me personally, the Basterds were one of the most overrated movies of the past year. Keep waiting for something from Tarantino to come close to Pulp Fiction, but no joy. Rather sticking to TV drama lately.

    BTW – I did LIKE Best Served Cold, but for me personally it just doesn't get close to the trilogy, which I've been recommending to everyone around me as one of the best in the new century.

    BTW #2 – When do we get to finally find out what happens with Logen???


  • marky says:

    The original was one of the first movies I ever watched on betamax, and I loved it. (It's now available from HMV for £3!)

    The Tarnatino version was fantastic. I loved the Leone moments, and the Morricone style music.

    I own a movie poster of the Good the Bad and the Ugly that’s signed by Clint, Eli, Lee Van Cleef(remember the master?), Sergio, and Ennio. It’s worth more than a Picasso to me! So, anything that even hints at a Sergio Leone’s style, has me all weak at the knee’s. I am that shallow.

    Just out of interest Joe, if they made any of your books into a movie, what director would you like to do the movie?

  • marky says:

    Tarantino I meant!

    Tarnatino is his less famous brother. I think he does Donkey porn.;-)

  • Timo, Tim the Wiz
    Just found Jackie Brown lacked the vivid, larger than life characters and dialogue of pulp fiction, or any of the clever messing with time and narrative. It just seemed pedestrian. And Samuel L. Jackson's beard? There was no call for that.

    Two imaginary signed books are on their way to you now.

    Brandon Schutz,
    There just didn't seem to be any identifiable characters in the basterds, apart perhaps from Stiglitz, who took an early bath. It was a long film but very scattergun – nothing ever seemed to be particularly developed.

    A lot of people prefer the trilogy. But quite a few prefer BSC. One can only do the best one can…

    Shit, man. I used to have a good, bad, ugly poster, but not carrying such signatures as those. Big fan of Sergio myself, but I'm not sure how comfortably his influence sat in this film. Though, hey, the first scene was the most overtly western-ish and that was also by far the best.

  • Bombie says:

    I prefer having both the trilogy and BSC on my shelf. Why stick with one flavour? They're all fantastic reads, and they're all true Abercrombie™.

    Small wonder that the Swedish consider him something of a hero:

  • Bombie,
    You have given my wife and I a good laugh.

  • marky says:

    Ha! That was amazing! I've just did the Mrs, the cat, and now I'm going to bug everybody I know with it. Quality stuff, Bombie.:-)

  • Zafri Mollon says:

    Good stuff!!!!

  • Rise_Against says:

    ???I like IB, but then again I like Tarantino films. I also liked Death Proof. If nothing else the whole movie is worth watching for the last ten minutes.(true for me on both films)

    I would say that Tarantino does to movies what you do to the fantasy genre, but I guess you would consider that an insult.

    And yes both the trilogy and bsc are necessities.

  • Anonymous says: is a good website which sell abercrombie,you can find the good product from it

  • Anonymous says:

    Cristopher Waltz = Glokta

    'nuff said.


Add Your Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *