I'm going to tell you right now why Inglourious Basterds—despite the deliberately bad spelling making my eyes ache—is going to be one of the best war movies ever made.
Is it because it's written and directed by Quentin Tarantino? Is it because it stars Brad Pitt in a mustache? Is it because it has a crazy main cast of Jewish actors, including Hostel director Eli Roth, all playing psycho Nazi killers? No, gents. The reason why this is going to be one hell of a war movie is because it has Hitler wearing a supervillain cape.
UPDATE: The teaser trailer is now online. I've updated the Hitler pic with a better quality one.
"Do you expect me to talk?"
"No, Juden, I expect you to DIE! Schnell!"
What is the significance of the cape, you ask? For one thing, it's goofy as hell. That is a good sign. That should tell you that this movie aims a little to the left of all the other WWII movies.
Game critics often complain about the market's over saturation with WWII games, but the complaint is just as valid with Hollywood movies. If it's not the war itself, it's going to be about the Holocaust. Perhaps it's because WWII, more than any other war in American history, defined America as the indisputable heroes—which is terribly convenient for Hollywood to glamorize and sell. These are built-in heroic tales readily available, so why not exploit that?
Because of this, "WWII" can be one of the most boring genres to watch. The formula is to take a true story and mold it into the typical hero story, exaggerations welcome. Don't forget to touch on the themes of courage, love and brotherhood. These movies all end up having this air of importance to them, always pontificating whatever it is that the characters lose in the name of their country and its future generations who, in turn, show their gratitude in weekend numbers.
It's great to have historical projects like Band of Brothers around, but when most of the films are regurgitating the same themes, they all blend into a forgettable blur, if they weren't already trite to begin with. It wasn't always like this, though. Many of the earlier WWII movies are less, shall we say, nostalgic. Films like The Dirty Dozen or Kelly's Heroes are more plot-driven, energetic and (*gasp*) fun. Yes, fun. Something that's just so far removed from the word war nowadays.
How is Tarantino's movie different? Basterds' premise recalls the ridiculous plots of the more whimsical WWII films. Rather than trying to do something believable and half-assed relevant, Tarantino wants to show something cool instead. It's got a major movie star in a scene-chewing role, crazy American soldiers hungry for Nazi scalps, a mythic Nazi villain called The Jew Hunter, a kooky assassination plot involving a film premiere as conceived by Mike Myers, Samuel L. Jackson is an all-seeing narrator, it uses pop songs for its soundtrack... and what else... Oh yeah: HITLER WEARS A CAPE.
In the film, Adolf Hitler (Martin Wuttke) doesn't have a big part, but it is said that he gets a memorable interrogation scene. Want to know how Hitler would talk in Tarantino dialogue? Maybe he'll make references to obscure German kung fu movies. Who knows? The man's got a pimp cape. He can say whatever he wants.
Am I putting too much stock on a piece of wardrobe? Maybe. I can't, however, ignore that awesome image of Hitler in a white cape freaking out in front of a giant world map straight out of a comic book.
Inglourious Basterds will hit theaters this August. Full trailer is coming Thursday here.