Inglourious Basterds: What Are the Critics Saying?


To scalp or not to scalp? The critics have weighed in on this question, and the consensus is… decidedly mixed. Roger Ebert is hailing Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds as the best film of year, while the folks at The New Yorker have written it off as “pure sensation.” Not sure what to think? Are you, too, slightly puzzled by the grassroots, spray-painted advertising we found outside our office? Check out our review roundup and give us the verdict: Will you be seeing Inglourious Basterds tonight?

“Immediately after Pulp Fiction played at Cannes, QT asked me what I thought. ‘It’s either the best film of the year or the worst film,’ I said. I hardly knew what the hell had happened to me. The answer was: the best film. Tarantino films have a way of growing on you. It’s not enough to see them once.”

-Rogert Ebert [via Chicago Sun Times]

View what the rest had to say after the jump.

“I was struck afresh by how exasperatingly awful and transcendentally disappointing it is: a colossal, complacent, long-winded dud, a gigantic two-and-a-half-hour anti-climax, like a Quentin Tarantino film in form and mannerism but with the crucial element of genius mysteriously amputated.”

-Peter Bradshaw [via The Guardian]

“In Tarantino’s besotted historical reverie, real-life villains Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels are played as grotesque jokes. The Basterds are played as exaggeratedly tough Jews. The women are femmes fatales. In such a cartoon world, the appearance of one stereotype-resistant protagonist — a Nazi, no less — counts as something glorious indeed.”

-Lisa Schwarzbaum [via EW]

“Like all the director’s work after Jackie Brown, the movie is pure sensation. It’s disconnected from feeling, and an eerie blankness — it’s too shallow to be called nihilism — undermines even the best scenes.”

-David Denby [via The New Yorker]

“Also getting in the way is Tarantino’s inevitable self-indulgence, his willingess to please himself by choosing movie moments over genuine emotion, making a point of having Frenchwoman Shosanna, for instance, say, ‘We respect directors in our country.’ As it goes on and on, Inglorious Basterds feels increasingly like the kind of hollow, fanboyish cinema that is all the rage these days.”

-Kenneth Turan [via LA Times]

“But too often in Inglourious Basterds the filmmaking falls short. Mr. Tarantino is a great writer and director of individual scenes, though he can have trouble putting those together, a difficulty that has sometimes been obscured by the clever temporal kinks in his earlier work. He has also turned into a bad editor of his own material (his nominal editor, as usual, is Sally Menke) and seems unwilling or incapable of telling his A material from his B.”

-Manohla Dargis [via NY Times]

“While World War II has probably inspired as much fiction as any other single topic in film history, Inglourious Basterds is one of the few to have brazenly altered history to such an extent. Because he carefully sets up the approach at the outset, as well as through his sense of style, Tarantino gets away with it.”

-Tod McCarthy [via Variety]

“Those Tarantino fans who regard him as a virtuoso choreographer of blood-letting and carnal mayhem will be pleased to learn that the film depicts women being strangled, throats being slit, heads scalped, fists being thrust into mouths, and swastikas carved onto foreheads. Yet these scenes fail to chock or titillate. They’re forced, ponderously laboured efforts to make us groan and retch. The film too, for most of its 154 minutes, lacks tempo or drive.”

– Sukhdev Sandhu [via The Telegraph]

“There are a few moments of classic Tarantino tension . . . Otherwise the film lacks not only tension but those juicy sequences where actors deliver lines loaded with subtext and characters drip menace with icy wit. Tarantino never finds a way to introduce his vivid sense of pulp fiction within the context of a war movie. He is not kidding B movies as he was with Grindhouse nor riffing on cinema as with Pulp Fiction and the Kill Bill films.”

-Kirk Honeycutt [via THR]

“It should be warned that the advertising for Basterds is way off, totally different movie even.”

-Peter Sciretta [via /Slash Film’s Twitter]