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Inglourious Basterds (2009) -vs- Miracle at St. Anna (2008)

 Bryce Zabel, Editor-in-ChiefThe Smackdown

In the last two years, two high-profile directors, Quentin Tarantino and Spike Lee, each took a shot at putting their own brand on a World War II movie, no doubt because of the lure of working with badass villains and ass-kicking good guys, even though the risk for both was they had to operate under the suppressing fire of Steven Spielberg… incoming…

The Challenger

“Inglourious Basterds” is the bloody fractured fairy-tale version of World War II, cooked to a high boil of fantasy and revenge, marched into combat by the starpower of Brad Pitt, where the Jews get a chance to put Hitler in his place in real-time while punishing the dangerous psychopaths who powered the Nazi death machine.

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The Opponent

Spike Lee wants us to know that African-Americans fought bravely in World War II, despite the crap they put up with back at home, and so he’s given us “Miracle at St. Anna” about four black soldiers who find themselves in an Italian village, complete with hot women, great dance halls and a little boy who might be the most irritating film creation since Jerry Lewis.

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The Scorecard

Never mind that school kids all over America are going back to history class confronting their teachers with their newfound knowledge that the war ended in 1944 with Hitler’s death, Quentin Tarantino has at least managed to create a “teaching moment” while Spike Lee seems to have wandered into territory that wants to be taken seriously but seems as ill-informed as his competition’s scream-dream fantasy.

The Decision

Neither one of these films can hold a candle to “Saving Private Ryan” for guts and glory and sheer steadiness in filmmaking but, at the very least, Quentin Tarantino has avoided being boring and so beats the good intentions of Spike Lee about the head and shoulders and scalps him clean with his own weird, odd and mostly insane “Inglourious Basterds.”

About Bryce Zabel 196 Articles
Drawing inspiration from career experiences as a CNN correspondent, TV Academy chairman, creator of five produced primetime network TV series, and fast-food frycook, Bryce is the Editor-in-Chief of "Movie Smackdown." While he freely admits to having written the screenplay for the reviewer-savaged "Mortal Kombat: Annihilation," he hopes the fact that he also won the Writers Guild award a couple of years ago will cause you to cut him some slack. That, plus the fact that he has a new StudioCanal produced feature film, “The Last Battle,” shooting this summer in Europe about the end of World War II. He's also a member of the Directors Guild, Screen Actors Guild, and a past enthusiast of the Merry Marvel Marching Society. His new what-if book series, “Breakpoint,” just won the prestigious Sidewise Award for Alternate History, and has so far tackled JFK not being assassinated and The Beatles staying together.
Contact: Website

6 Comments on Inglourious Basterds (2009) -vs- Miracle at St. Anna (2008)

  1. haha i thought that might spark something.

  2. “Cinema unleashed” and “picture of the year” just don’t seem to exist in the same universe as INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS. It may be “more than” a war film because it is not a war film at all. It’s an academic argument to see if you like it or PULP FICTION to me… I assume you’d prefer it to SAVING PRIVATE RYAN which blows my mind. Ah, well, bring on the diverse audiences so we can all have movies made for us!

  3. I’m going to have to disagree. Inglourious Basterds IMO is cinema unleashed. Having seen multiple viewings (and readying myself for another) I would argue that it is much much much MORE than “a war film.” And likely to be picture of the year.
    I’ll stop myself before I spoil anything. Inglourious Basterds vs Pulp Fiction coming soon.
    Though if everyone keeps talking about SPR I might have to change the matchup.

  4. Don’t really like either of these movies. Both were as you pointed out more about their director’s egos than making a good war film.

  5. Put Spike Lee’s in Tarantino’s shoes: just directed a movie that looks at the history of the Holocaust from a different angle from the known one, and he tells the people whose history he has just retold “a lot about your history you have yet to come to grips with. This film is our interpretation, and I stand behind it.”
    Doesn’t take much to imagine the Anti-Defamation League jumping – and rightly – as his throat, does it?
    Agree with the decision, Spielberg’s – or Malick’s – movie is in a different class. Even “Kelly’s Heroes” is way above Lee’s and Tarantino’s flicks.

  6. Tweet-y Smacks. It’s kind of like a breakfast food you eat on the run. I get it now.

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