Review by John Larkin
INGLORIOUS BASTERDS in 4K can be purchased on Amazon by clicking HERE.
Below is my original review for the film written for Films in Review upon it's theatrical release in August 2009:
For Tarantino fans BASTERDS has been the anticipatory film of the year. I know; I’ve followed it since its earliest IMDB rumors, (there was a point where Adam Sandler was attached). For me, Tarantino was a key filmmaker who got me to look deeper into movies and the work of other filmmakers. He eventually inspired and influenced my own films over the last six years. In these times, a Tarantino film is an event that sports high expectations.
The opening credits alone are enough to make one tear up, inflecting a beautiful ‘Tarantinoesque’ Western nostalgia. In doing so, he makes a nod to himself, saying “yes, I’m back.” The first scene is a fantastic face-to-face dialogue scene that pits Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) delivering scrumptious pages of Tarantino poetry which reminded me of the Christopher Walken monologue from TRUE ROMANCE. Waltz steals the film in four different languages and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get a Best Supporting Actor nod come Oscar season. Standing opposite is Pitt, who is not always firing on all cylinders. BASTERDS was an openly rushed production and I think some of Pitt’s scenes reflect that.
In DEATH PROOF it seemed that Tarantino had wrapped himself up so much in his own style that it became a caricature of itself. BASTERDS made me feel that way about certain musical cues, but despite that, it also has some incredibly memorable moments that may become among your favorites in the ‘Tarantino Cannon’. You wouldn’t think a David Bowie song would work in a period war film, but it’s the perfect example of something the director does best.
Ironically, what works against BASTERDS is its epic quality. The multiple story lines don’t lend themselves to each other and some chapters tend to be long-winded and lack the kind of evocative dialogue that we’ve become used to. For a film called INGLORIOUS BASTERDS, I was expecting to see more of the basterds, but the film tends to stretch each section a little thin. Its climactic scene invokes a kind of demonic CINEMA PARADISO, a brilliant showcase of the power of cinema and how powerfully it outlives us and is unforgettable.
Is it a masterpiece? Definitely not. I think PULP FICTION is and always will stand as his best film. Regardless, it’s a wildly original, style-fueled event, one well worth viewing, maybe even a few times.
SMASH CUT TO 2021:
I have to admit I like the film even more now having watched it several more times over the last decade or so and now most recently remastered in 4K. Although imperfect - I still think that some of the chapters run too long and the pacing issues hurt the film - there are so many things that work beautifully in it that I would easily call it one of Tarantino's best.
I had no problems at all with Pitt's performance this time around and I don't know why I felt he was lacking in some areas. His character work as Lt. Aldo Raine is as great and memorable as anything he's done and I'd like to think of Pitt now as a Tarantino mainstay like Samuel L. Jackson.
The 4K experience highlights Robert Richardson's cinematography in all it's gorgeous glory. I found myself reveling in all the enhanced detail wether it was the walls of the farm house in the opening scene, the facial expressions in the brilliantly tense tavern scene or just watching one of Christoph Waltz's many scene stealing monologues unfold. It's thrilling enough to watch a Tarantino film but to see it in 4K is to witness the full power of the work and the magic of Tarantino and his DP Richardson's collaborative strengths. This is only the second Tarantino film to have a 4K release - the first being ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD. There are so many past films of his to look forward to witnessing one day in a higher quality than was ever available before.
I had forgotten just how good the eclectic use of music is throughout. It's always been Tarantino's speciality, but in BASTERDS he's assembled a masterful melange of evocative cue's. My personal favorite still being David Bowie's 1982's Cat People (Putting Out the Fire) to announce the start of the climactic third act.
I'm happy to report that all of the "legacy extra's" from the original DVD/Blu-Ray release are included in this release. Among them are deleted/extended scenes, a few behind the scenes featurettes, a NY Times talk with Tarantino and a compilation edit of all the "Hi Sally's" recorded by the cast and crew while making the film. Sally Menke had been Tarantino's career long editor since his first film RESERVOIR DOGS until she sadly passed in 2010. Tarantino had an on set tradition of encouraging his cast and crew to wave and say "Hi Sally" at some point while the cameras were still rolling so that she had a slew of friendly greetings awaiting her as she begun the editing processing. A very thoughtful gesture and now an even more poignant bonus feature because of her untimely death about a year after the films release.
For Tarantino fans this release is an absolute must own, one of Tarantino's best films and spectacular to watch in glorious 4K with HDR.