Quentin Tarantino has hit the nail on the head for what escapist cinema is. Instead of giving us the action flick that Tarantino gave us with Kill Bill, he gives us the art-house glimpse of what we all wished would have happened in World War II all of those years ago. The film is just entertaining and keeps you interested in the whole two and half hours.
The Plot of the film is already enough to be it in the exploitive cinema genre, but it isn't. It's about Americans that are dropped behind enemy lines and kill Nazis. What the film cleverly hides is that it's not just america that wants to kill Nazis, it's nearly everybody else as well. While we all may not be on the same team, we all share a common enemy at points in history. The film takes a much more subtler approach as to present this plot. The film is not based solely on the title characters of the Basterds, but on multiple story arcs. This film is much more in line with Pulp Fiction than it is with Kill Bill. When I say that it's much in line with Pulp Fiction, I mean that the plot is based on developing the characters so that you know why most of these characters are doing what they are doing. The Basterds aren't really given much screen-time, but by the end of the film we get how passionate they are about killing Nazis and the fact is that these jews are pissed as hell and they went to crack skulls and take names...or in this case scalps. We also view the film from the point of views The Basterds, of a Jewish woman who escapes her brush with death, a German colonel nicknamed "Jew Hunter" (fantastically played by Christoph Waltz),and a German Actress. That storylines is developed enough as the Basterds are except we feel a connection to what is happening to some of these side characters. We either love them or we love to hate them. While we aren't given any of these characters whole live stories, we know full and well what they are about. This is a testament to why Tarantino is such a great storyteller and why we all love him for not presenting us with all of this unnecessary backstory that could have been used to beat us over the head with.
The Acting of the film is definitely great! Brad Pitt is hilarious as Lt. Aldo Raine. Brad Pitt is spot on with this character and definitely rises to the occasion again with Tarantino at the helm. Melanie Laurent is great as the Jewish woman Shosanna Greyfus and she proves more of the emotional thrust of the picture with her story-arc. When we see all of the crazy things that goes on with the other story arcs, her story is the one we can all gravitate towards to provide the beat that grounds the seriousness of the picture. When this arc is closed we see how she came to that point and it doesn't feel like a cheat for this type of picture. As great as Melanie Laurent's performance was, the surprise and one of the standouts of the picture is Christoph Waltz performance as Col. Hans Landa. What made this character so effective is that this character is shades of grey throughout the picture and he steals the screen, whenever he is on. His character is the one character that poses the biggest threat to the Basterds and his portrayal makes his character so rich, textured, and fascinating to watch. His viewpoints on what he is doing is a unique in a way we have not seen before and it definitely one of those signature Tarantino roles. The great thing about the acting of the picture is that they all are played right. Nobody feels out of place and everybody is there to serve a part of the story.
The direction of the film is Masterful. Tarantino doesn't talk down to the plot of the film and he sticks to a tone all the way through. This film is very talkative and is dialogue focused. The one aspect that will catch many off guard is one of the strongest things it has going for it: the film is very subtitle heavy. About most of the film is told in a different language, which helps maintain the tone and reality of this picture. What makes this film different from the other World War II films of late is that these characters don't overcome their cultural and language barriers. If they are french, they speak french, and if they are dumb americans that don't know how to speak German, they don't. What sets this apart from films such as last year's Valkyrie was in the fact that film decided to forget that germans are germans and have everybody speak in a perfect english accent, which undercut the picture because we were supposed to get that these Nazi's were trying to right wrongs and we got Tom Cruise trying to assassinate Hitler. This film uses the language barriers to it's advantage and it creates a whole different type of suspense building that is credible and effective in one of the opening scenes of the film. It's almost as if Tarantino saw that Hollywood was too concerned with entertaining and getting to the audience to the point that it undercut the film's message and now he decides to tell what would have happened if these characters existed in our world and he makes them very believable. Not everybody knows french or german and Tarantino is fully aware of this fact and he uses it to his advantage. The Direction is pretty much flawless even for it being a foreign spoken film, it feels very real and Tarantino nails it!
While a lot of the people are going to have a problem with what this film does with Historical events, Tarantino provides an entertaining dive into the alternate world of the Basterds. The ending will definitely be something people are going to be talking about and it doesn't fail to entertain. What Tarantino also does with the picture is take that idea of "wouldn't it have been great if we saw this happen to Nazis?" and he taps into the fact that we would have all like to have seen Hitler pitted against a ruthless group like the Basterds. He taps into that complicit nature in all of us to see someone get exactly what they deserved, and he also tapped into the fact that most of these Nazi's were people and that they are as flawed as we are, but he definitely makes the nazis the antagonists of the picture. We all had a common enemy and we are all similar in our goals despite what side of the world we are from. This films goes to show that Quentin Tarantino is a much smarter writer and storyteller when he devides to not give us a by the numbers war-film and he surprises us with this brilliant piece of Kosher Porn!
I'd say this is a definite Full-Price!!! It is one of the best things Tarantino has done in years.