All the trailers and ads for this movie proudly say "The new action film from Quentin Tarantino staring Brad Pitt," but I gotta tell ya that that's false advertising. Sorry about that. I was a little disappointed too. I guess this requires a little explanation. The "Brad Pitt" part is easy. "Basterds" has a running time of 2.5 hours and I would guess that Pitt is in it for about an hour of that but he makes every second of those scenes brutal and hilarious. But the absence of Pitt is not a bad thing since the other actors pull their own weight; it's just not the Pitt-driven vehicle you probably thought it would be. With the exception of Eli Roth (Director of the "Hostel" movies), BJ Novak ("The Office") and Mike Myers (yeah, that Mike Myers) you probably won't recognize anyone in the movie. Tarantino selected a mostly European cast that is a virtual United Nations of languages. That's something that you need to be prepared for since 75% of the movie is in subtitles as the actors speak German, French and even Italian. Two of the new foreign faces that are a joy to watch are Christoph Waltz and Melanie Laurent. Waltz is the perfect villain as he encompasses sinister humor and brutal menace in every scene he's in. Laurent is a stunningly gorgeous French actress that has mastered the art of subtlety in her anguish and enragement so well, it's devastating to watch. Now, what I meant by the lack of "Tarantino" is that the movie feels more like a European director trying to emulate his style. Maybe that was his point, but it backfires at times. It's to be expected (and usually welcomed) that QT's movies are self-indulgent, but when you have those long, plotting, dialogue-heavy scenes in another language it looses some of that Tarantino Touch that we all love and will sit through. The movie really does test your patience. The finale does NOT disappoint in the slightest, which is your reward for sitting through the whole movie. If you get bored or confused to the point of wanting to leave the theater, I would totally understand. All of his movies are made for true fans of film, but this may be his most ambitious attempt at seeing how far can he push his audience before giving them the violent finish they wait for.
Inglorious Basterds (Rated R)
Gavin Grade: A-