Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds debuted at the Cannes Film Festival this week and as it was when his script first leaked out onto the internet, reactions all over the map. Some like First Showing loved it, others hated it, more than a few have opinions that fall somewhere in the middle. One thing almost everyone agrees on, and it’s something I’ve been saying since I first read the script many months ago: This isn’t an action flick. This isn’t the men on a mission, Dirty Dozen-style, Nazi hunting movie Tarantino continues to bill it as. It’s light on action, heavy on talking, and it’s centered almost entirely around a Paris movie theater. It’s The Majestic with Nazis.
Below is a fair and balanced representation of the Inglourious Basterds opinions which have been published so far. Get a taste of what QT may have in store for us with this one:
“An entertaining yet uneven movie that provides comedy, drama and some interesting psychological twists and turns, but never quite delivers on that "men on a mission" promise, lacking the requisite action and spectacle to truly to make it a classic of the genre. “ - Christ Tilly, IGN
“It isn't funny; it isn't exciting; it isn't a realistic war movie, yet neither is it an entertaining genre spoof or a clever counterfactual wartime yarn. It isn't emotionally involving or deliciously ironic or a brilliant tissue of trash-pop references. Nothing like that. Brad Pitt gives the worst performance of his life, with a permanent smirk as if he's had the left side of his jaw injected with cement, and which he must uncomfortably maintain for long scenes on camera without dialogue.” - Peter Bradshaw, Guardian
“Essentially it's western meets war movie, with David Bowie on the soundtrack…. It still can't touch Pulp Fiction, which won the Palme D'Or in 1994, but the reaction here at Cannes is that Quentin Tarantino has made a glorious, silly, blood-spattered return.” - Emma Jones, BBC
“Basterds is a bit light on the action, heavy on the talking, and full of great performances. It's as awesome as Tarantino's first two films and as entertaining as his most recent few. It's the WWII movie we've been waiting to see.” - Alex Billington, First Showing
“A surprisingly tame war movie from the king of pulp fiction Quentin Tarantino… The film is by no means terrible -- its running time of two hours and 32 minutes races by -- but those things we think of as being Tarantino-esque, the long stretches of wickedly funny dialogue, the humor in the violence and outsized characters strutting across the screen, are largely missing.” - Kirk Honeycutt, THR
“Inglourious Basterds is a violent fairy tale, an increasingly entertaining fantasia in which the history of World War II is wildly reimagined so that the cinema can play the decisive role in destroying the Third Reich. Quentin Tarantino's long-gestating war saga invests a long-simmering revenge plot with reworkings of innumerable genre conventions, but only fully finds its tonal footing about halfway through, after which it's off to the races. By turns surprising, nutty, windy, audacious and a bit caught up in its own cleverness, the picture is a completely distinctive piece of American pop art with a strong Euro flavor that's new for the director.” - Todd McCarthy, Variety