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Inglourious Basterds (Two-Disc Special Edition) - action/adventure DVD / WWII military drama DVD / suspense DVD review
Rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 4 stars
Actors: Brad Pitt, Mélanie Laurent, Christoph Waltz, Eli Roth, Michael Fassbender, Diane Kruger
Director: Quentin Tarantino   Studio: Universal Studios
DVD release: 15 December 2009   Runtime: 153 minutes (2 discs)
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
DVD Features: Aspect ratio 2.40:1, Audio Tracks (Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround - English; Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo - French, Spanish), Subtitles (English SDH, French, Spanish), Extended & alternate scenes, Nation's Pride - the film within the film, Roundtable discussion (Quentin Tarantino, Brad Pitt, and Elvis Mitchell), The Making of Nation's Pride, Quentin Tarantino's Camera Angel

Stephen Spielberg brought World War II movies into the modern age with Saving Private Ryan. Ryan differed from the older classics by being realistic enough to give audience members shell shock. This tradition continued with Thin Red Line and Clint Eastwood's Iwo Jima films. There's nothing wrong with realism and truthful telling of the grittiness of war, but there's something to be said about the guts 'n' gloroy films of yesteryear. The Dirty Dozen, The Guns of Navarone, Where Eagles Dare; the list goes on.

Quentin Tarantino has brought back the fun and kept some of the grittiness of these classics in Inglourious Basterds, a glorious film that is just pure fun to watch. It's a Tarantino film, so the dialog is good and feels right. It takes its time and feels its way without stampeding into action, and - wonder of wonders - Germans speak German!

The norm heretofore for WWII films is for the Germans to speak English with a British or German accent. Germans can tell if someone isn't a native speaker (like in real life). Quentin wisely opted to use actual German and French actors for German and French roles, which has helped to make Basterds successful in Europe.

Brad Pitt plays Lt. Aldo Raine, charged with assembling a crack group of soldiers to sneak into France ahead of the invasion dressed as civilians and strike fear into the hearts of German soldiers. Raine tells his soldiers (all of them Jews) that they join up with him with a debt: each owe him 100 Nazi scalps. And he wants his scalps. Pitt plays Raine as a man from the Smoky Mountains, a good ol' boy with a serious neck scar and a chin that juts out to afford his mouth the space in which to drawl.

Mélanie Laurent plays Shosanna, a Jewish girl who survived when a cunning SS Jew Hunter discovered her family and murdered them all. She escaped to Paris where she now runs a little cinema. A German sniper hero, Pvt. Zoller (Daniel Brühl), has taken a shine to her and hopes to have the premiere of his biopic played at her cinema. Shosanna is a strong woman who keeps her cool in the face of terrifying company.

Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz), the aforementioned cunning Jew hunter, is a brilliant man fluent in several languages who manages to see much more than most. An unlikable Sherlock Holmes planning for his future after the war and cunning enough to see an opportunity, he'll betray whomever he must to achieve his goals.

These characters come together in the third act and create a new ending for the war that, while not historically accurate, is grand entertainment. If you love cinema, there's plenty to love about Basterds. As with many of Tarantino's films, you may enjoy it more the second time around. So much is layered and intercut that it takes some time for it to sink in. Immediately on completing the film, I wanted to see it again - to go back and sop up all the leftover gravy that Inglourious Basterds is soaked in. My only wish was for more footage of Raine's Basterds in action.
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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