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‘Inglorious Basterds’ delivers, in all its gory splendor

BY REBECCA KOONS | AUGUST 24, 2009 7:05 AM

**** 1/2 out of *****

Ladies and gentlemen, I have faith once again faith in Hollywood’s ability to produce an exhilarating cinematic adventure. Director Quentin Tarantino gives the summer movie-going pubic what it has so desperately hungered for with his latest project, Inglourious Basterds.

Set in an alternate World War II reality, the Basterds are a small troop of Jewish-Americans who are hell-bent on seeking revenge on the Nazis. The Basterds dutifully leave their mark by scalping every Nazi soldier they kill by the request of Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt), the Basterds’ commanding officer.

A second, separate plot of revenge is set in motion by a young Jewish woman named Shosanna Dreyfus, played by Mélanie Laurent, who three years prior managed to escape the wrath of German soldiers who murdered her entire family. She emerges as the owner of a theater that is selected to première a Nazi propaganda film.

The presence of strong, sophisticated female roles such as Mimieux’s perfectly complements the grime and grit of the film’s male counterparts. But don’t expect a feminist lesson, or any other kind of lesson for that matter, from Inglourious Basterds. All vengeance aside, the drama and squabble never manages to present any sort of moral. Though it’s hard to tell if that’s how Tarantino intended it to be, the cornucopia of violence more than makes up for it.

Inglourious Basterds truly lends itself to the insanely creative mind of Tarantino, whose classic style and plot setup is ever apparent throughout the movie. With the film divided into chapters, some narration, and the “comic book” method of introducing various characters (think Kill Bill), one can instantly tell who is master behind all the madness.

Musically, Inglourious Basterds is rather distinct — there is very little that sounds like it originated in the World War II era. Instead, Tarantino shocks the audience with selections that seem to fit more appropriately in a modern-day film (like Pulp Fiction). This ultimately provides Inglourious Basterds with a refreshing twist, managing to enhance the mood of its respective scene.

But the squeamish at heart should be duly warned — there is no shortage of blood, guts, and gruesome glory in this film. Everything from the blood shed, spewed, and sprayed, to the characters’ emotional delivery, to the impeccable sets, has clearly received special attention, and has been honed to perfection in order to have maximum effect on the audience. Only a few times throughout the film’s two-and-a-half hour span does the gore become over the top in its outrageous, graphic quality — but only where appropriate.

Inglourious Basterds often toes the line between serious and comical, but nine times out of 10, that’s what makes the movie work so well. Raine, while completely immersed in the idea of killing Nazi scum, manages to provide plenty of comic relief, be it through his demeanor, Southern drawl spiked-Italian, or his continual pursuit of slaughter after slaughter. If you thought you’d never have a hearty laugh at anything involving World War II, or Nazi Germany, you may be surprised — whether that’s a good thing is up to you.

All around, Tarantino certainly has a hit on his hands with Inglourious Basterds. This movie provides a real theatrical experience for movie fans — something that has been largely missing from the cinema in recent years. It’s good to know that there are still fantastic exceptions to the typical summer blockbuster drivel.


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