Friday, 9 October 2009

Review: "Inglourious Basterds"

Let me add a disclaimer to this review before I get going. Anyone who knows me knows I'm a huge fan of Quentin Tarantino and his work. That said, when reviewing a film, I do my utmost to remain unbiased and evaluate what I'm watching from an objective viewpoint. So I am being entirely honest when I state that Inglourious Basterds is a mesmerising and astounding piece of cinema.

Brad Pitt is flawless as Aldo Raine, bringing the perfect balance of humour and menace to his character. Raine is the leader of the eponymous crew, and from his first appearance on screen Pitt owns the role in a unique delivery, simultaneously hilarious and disturbing. The supporting players do so admirably, and Tarantino's choice of largely unknown actors (not within European cinema, but certainly to me and presumably the vast majority of IB's audience) adds a feel of authenticity. Whilst a small part of the cast, who may or may not be Eli Roth, feel like they've been cast simply because they're mates with QT, this takes nothing away from the film. There isn't an actor or actress who doesn't give a great turn throughout the film, but within this cornucopio of solid performances - ranging from a short but powerful turn by Michael Fassbender to a cheeky but worthwhile cameo by Mike Myers - it is Christoph Waltz who gives the standout performance, stealing every scene he's in and out-acting even the heavyweight Pitt. Waltz's performance is masterful, captivating and indescribable, and the character he creates - the toe-curlingly uncomfortable "Jew Hunter" Colonel Hans Landa, who drips smarm from every pore - is one of cinema's unforgettable villains, and one of Tarantino's finest creations.

The plot takes a little while to take hold, reflecting the frenetic journey this film has taken to the screen in the first couple of chapters. However, once things get going they don't let up for a second. From the first scene, in which the tension is unbearably tangible from the opening lines, to the literally awesome finale, the film runs the gamut of emotions, styles, genres and homages without missing a beat and nailing each and every one. Tarantino has created a truly brilliant film which sets the bar high for what it aims to achieve. In a less skilled pair of hands, and borne from a less masterful mind, this film could have been a two-and-a-half hour mess. Instead, Tarantino has created a fantastic cinematic masterpiece. Watch this film.


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