I don’t want to give the impression that Inglourious Basterds is getting killed by the critics, but in an effort to tamp down my own absurd expectations here is a sampling of some of the more negative reviews of the Quentin Tarantino WWII adventure which premiered in competition at Cannes at 8:30 this morning local time.
There are several reviews that are more positive (including Variety’s Todd McCarthy), but so far no raves.
Peter Bradshaw, Guardian UK
We ignored the rumourmongers, the alarmists and defeatists, and insisted that the Master would at the last moment fire a devastating V1 rocket of a movie which would lay waste to his, and our, detractors. But today the full catastrophe of his new film arrived like some colossal armour-plated turkey from hell. The city of our hopes is in flames.
The Hollywood Reporter, (Kirk Honeycutt?)
History will not repeat itself for Quentin Tarantino. While his Pulp Fiction arrived late at the Festival de Cannes and swept away the Palme d’Or in 1994, his World War II action movie Inglourious Basterds merely continues the string of disappointments in this year’s Competition.
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.
Xan Brooks, Guardian UK
Inglourious Basterds remains a mess: an obese, pampered adolescent of a film that somehow manages to be both indolent and overexcited at the same time. Oh sure, this adolescent is talented and has ambition and moxy to burn. But he’s so bumptious, brattish and full of himself that it becomes a little wearing. And what was with all those movie references? Michael Fassbender plays a heroic film critic, while Tarantino’s script pays extended, obsequious tribute to French cinema and the auteur theory. It all struck me as special pleading; the smarm-tactics of a schoolboy who has rushed through his homework and decides that his best hope is to butter up the teacher.
Dave Calhoun, Time Out
You get the feeling with Inglourious Basterds that Quentin Tarantino desperately wants to put away childish things. Nor is he hiding the fact…Inglourious Basterds is, a lot of the time, a little more restrained, a little quieter than we’ve come to expect from films like Death Proof and Kill Bill. I say ‘a little’ because much of it is not quiet at all: when the music comes, albeit less frequently than usual, it’s loud; when the deaths occur, they’re gruesome, even sadistic; when the plot kicks in, it’s pure fantasy. That’s all fine, and Tarantino is mostly smart enough to let his usual, entertaining extravagances serve the story rather than the other way around.