Some Spoilers in the review! See the movie first!
The movie’s first scene has an air of Sergio Leone when a local dairy farmer chopping wood silently is berated by a Nazi Colonel Hands Landa. The soft-spoken dairy farmer has an air of Charles Bronson in his voice, but he only plays a minor role in the movie. Like the Christopher Walken scene in True Romance, the first scene may be the most memorable of the all the movie.
The movie is separated into five chapters, and is the story of the “Basterds,” the British, and a Jewish woman’s attempt to take down the Third Reich. If you want an entire plot summary, you can find it here.
The movie plays a thin line between a dark comedic look at World War II and a serious epic movie about the War itself (with obvious historical artistic license). The movie itself feels like a series of moments. It is not the type of movie you watch for a fast moving plot or deep character development. In fact, if you like typical Hollywood movies, I don’t think this movie will appeal to you. Tarantino’s typical dialogue driven movies is more like an Elmore Leonard novel than a Hollywood movie.
For instance, the long scene in the tavern ending in a self-proclaimed “Mexican standoff,” may not seen necessary to screenwriters who like to get to the point, but the scene does well as its own little world in its own little chapter in some unkempt corner of the universe of Inglorious Basterds. The ending sequence in the tavern with a German soldier begging for his life because he is a new father seems very similar to scene in Kill Bill when Uma Thurman begs for her life because she realizes she has just become pregnant.
There are some (like Stephen Whitty) who worry about the “lack of concern with the story’s moral dimensions,” and the numerous references to other movies in the movie, but it all comes together to make a Tarantino flick. Frankly, Tarantino has earned the right throughout the years and no one else than him could rightly borrow scores from other Morricone flicks (as he also did in Kill Bill) and get away with it. What you are left with is a Spaghetti Western World War II Epic of a movie.
Do I recommend the movie? Yes and No. It is not Tarantino’s strongest work, but it is not his weakest. If you aren’t a fan of sub-titles it would be hard to sit all the way through. Most of the movie is in German or French. The only English scenes are Brad Pitt’s scene with the Basterds. Sometimes there is even translation if someone in the room speaks French, but another only speaks German. If you aren’t willing to really pay attention and follow the plot, the payoffs in the end aren’t worth it. But is the pay off really worth it in the end? We all know that Hitler lived, but this is Tarantino’s way of showing how history might have been changed by the Basterds.