So, I went out and saw a movie last night with Nina while celebrating her birthday (and, once again, Happy Birthday Nina). We went to see Inglorious Basterds, the new Quentin Tarantino flick.
It was awful. Not just bad, but outright awful.
Since there are so many flaws, lets start out with pacing, shall we? Quentin Tarantino seems to have a problem with pacing, specifically, the man needs an editor. Several scenes were drawn out for dramatic tension, but only a quarter of them really worked (and all of those were solely because of Christopher Waltz's superb acting during the film).
The scenes where the Basterds were interrogating three captured Nazis springs readily to mind, with one of the basterds taking a minute or so to exit the tunnel he was waiting in, having him strike the walls with the baseball bat he smashes nazi skulls in with. The German actually made me think quite highly of him for accepting his fate with about as much aplomb as someone about to be put to death could possibly have.
The other, and by far the worst scene of the movie was the drawn out scene in the basement. Yes, yes, I know he was trying for tension, will the British agent get found out or will his cover hold? (It's the former, by the way, and if you're going to yell about spoiling it, you should read the title of the post...) Anyway, the scene is horribly dragged out, starting with them waiting, having the British officer wary about the German who joined the Basterds, and then all of them entering the small bar, which they apparently could have done at the beginning of the scene... The scene goes on a bit, with them pulling away the actress from a group of Germans celebrating the birth of a son of one of those present, and goes on for a while the guy whose son was just born catching the British agent's accent. An SS soldier comes out and, after a scene that is ruthlessly drawn out, finally outs the British agent and gets all but one person in the bar killed. Yes, this does explain why the non-German speakers have to go to the big film at the end, but it's absolutely painful to watch.
On the bright side of the pacing, as I mentioned before, was Christopher Waltz's portrayal of Hans Landa, and especially his interaction with Shosanna Dreyfus. Christopher Waltz played a SS officer, specially one that tracked down hiding Jews, and while that seems very bastardly (and it is, no doubt), he went about his job that seemed to be lacking in malice. He was an EXCELLENT interrogator, causing anyone he talked with to be thrown off balance ("Wait for the cream..."), and did such a good job intimidating people that he had a grown man crying while still acting completely congenial. He also played one of the funniest parts of the movie, acting as the foil for Brad Pit in the beginning of the movie scene (with Brad Pit attempting to speak Italian while Christopher Waltz's character being completely fluent, and basically playing him for a fool). It was only after that scene that things came together at all, but that leads me to the next problem I have with the film.
Historical inaccuracy. Long story short: Hitler, Goebels, Goering and Borrman, and nearly the entire German high command all dieing in a movie theater in Paris either due to fire (set by Soshana and her lover Marcel), bombs brought in by the Basterds (and one placed by Hans Landa who switches sides). The only reason Nina did not hear my jaw hit the floor was because of all the audio chaos spewing threw the cinema. Yes, it was very nice to see Hitler get shot to pieces (and then his body shot until it was collapsing into goo, and, no, I'm NOT exaggerating), but the sheer gall of it all was astounding. Lord knows the sacrifices we had to make before the bastard offed himself in real life, including the suicide attempts made by the Germans themselves. It didn't sit well with me last night and it still doesn't today.
So was the fact the Jews in the Basterds effectively turned themselves into suicide bombers. And it wasn't as if they needed to be either, they were wearing bombs on their legs and could have easily taken them off and tossed them into the crowd of nazis racing for the door. It's as if they just forgot to take them off. And, yes, I am aware they were in Hitler's balcony seat where Hans had set the bomb and they would have died anyway, but there's a difference between the sheer stupidity of not taking off the bomb on your leg and getting blown up by the bomb that someone had tossed under a seat.
And then there was the waste of talent. It's most noticeable from the trailer, really. You'd be surprised by the LACK of screen time that Brad Pitt and the actual Inglorious Basterds have as well as how brief the actual bouts of violence are. In fact, the majority of the film was devoted to either throw away characters or Hans Landa and Shossana Dreyfus (which, admittedly, come to be some of the best scenes of the movie). The violence, while nice and bloody (par the course for Quentin Tarantino), isn't all that it's cracked up to be. We don't actually see the Inglorious Basterds sabotaging the Germans behind the lines, we merely hear about it from other characters and see the aftermath of an attack once. A good quarter of the scenes for the Basterds, the bar scene, doesn't even have all of them in the shot, composed entirely of two bastards and the British agent who gets them all killed. Why they even bothered to toss the British Agent in at all, I'm still not quite sure...
As for the good parts of the movie... they just weren't enough to drag it above the murky waste it was mired in. Yes, it had it's moments, both humerous and violent, and Hans certainly made the tension linger whenever he was busy with actual business (I guess I should note that the other German SS, the one who actually caught the British Agent was actually quite competent in his own right, but the scene was almost painful in how it was done that it drowned out the creepy effectiveness of the character). Shosanna was a strong character as well (her little breakdown after being confronted by Landa was perhaps the most emotional scene of the movie, how she kept herself from weeping more openly went to show how strong of a character she was). Zoller (a German war hero who became the star of the movie within a movie [which also looked outright awful, but was being greeted by the Nazis as if it was the greatest movie in history]) was tolerable, at best, with a possibility of redemption cut short when Shosanna kills him when he gets in the way (only to mortally wound her in turn). Aldo Raine was a bastard, best portrayed by his execution order of a nazi radio operator, who had surrendered and was in handcuffs, for absolutely no reason, left a foul taste in my mouth. As for the rest of the basterds? I can't even really say, since none of them got any serious characterization.
Reading: The Soprano State