Christoph Waltz, “Inglourious Basterds'” Colonel Hans Landa, should consider moving on to American films. He does an amazing job of portraying someone who is, on the one hand, a bad guy, and on the other, an average guy. However, Waltz does a fabulous job of combining the evil side with the “everyday Johann” and making it completely realistic.
In Basterds, the previews seem to mark Brad Pitt’s Lieutenant Aldo Raine – also known as “Aldo the Apache” – as the main character – however, Melanie Laurent’s Shosanna Dreyfus gives him a good run for his money. Her family is murdered by Landa’s men; she takes off – and he surprisingly lets her go.
The story is set in Nazi-occupied France, where a group of American soldiers calling themselves “The Inglourious Basterds,” are hunting down and killing Nazi soldiers. Their group not only kills and scalps Nazis, but leaves them alive. The point of this is, one: to learn enemy data; two: to send a message throughout the troops about them and three: so that Aldo may carve a swastika onto a surviving Nazi’s forehead. This adds to the other Nazis’ fear and identifies him to everyone he’ll ever meet.
Shosanna, now the owner of a cinema, goes by the name of Emmanuelle. She meets a young Nazi who turns out to be both the real-life main character and actor of a German film called “Nation’s Pride,” which is about his triumph against many enemies. Since he likes her, he convinces his boss to let the premiere run in her theater, which she then decides to burn down.
Ultimately, both groups have one goal: kill Hitler. Special effects used toward a fire scene where Shosanna’s face lights up behind dancing flames in a theater is well-done; the flames appear to show her on fire, whilst laughing, giving her a rather devilish effect.
Pitt’s acting was that of what we have come to expect from him – a combination of funny and good action. Laurent does a great job, never faltering from her role. Diane Krueger, who plays a German actress turned American spy, also plays her part better than most would.
Cinematography was good as well, especially a scene shot from an aerial view, which then spirals downward onto Shoshanna, who is looking out a window. She looks stunning in this scene, exhibiting a rosy dress. Krueger’s costume was also marvelous – her evening gown reminiscent of a huge actress.
Setup of the movie, which runs similar to a video book, usually boring and annoying, works advantageously to the film. The only problem with a video book is the need for a narrator – who, in this film, really isn’t that great.
Quentin Tarantino wrote and directed, doing an ever-superb job. His fame for making a movie that contains drama, action, comedy and gore is his usual repertoire, but he has only gotten better. Basterds will gross you out, glue you to your seat and give you a stomachache from all the laughter.