With the one-two punch of Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, Quentin Tarantino ushered in a new generation of movie geeks, primarily because he was one. His love of genre and exploitation flicks were on display without apology. And with Inglourious Basterds, he turns his keen eye to perhaps the pulpiest genre he hadn't yet explored: the war movie.

With the one-two punch of Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, Quentin Tarantino ushered in a new generation of movie geeks, primarily because he was one. His love of genre and exploitation flicks were on display without apology. And with Inglourious Basterds, he turns his keen eye to perhaps the pulpiest genre he hadn't yet explored: the war movie.

Tarantino's latest cinematic volley begins - quite appropriately - with a "once upon a time" in the grim fairy-tale setting of Nazi-occupied France. In a lengthy opening scene that belies the shoot-'em-up ads for the film, Nazi Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) calmly and methodically interrogates a farmer suspected of harboring Jews.

It may be the most polite grilling in military history, but the tension drips off the walls of the tiny farmhouse, and Tarantino is delightfully slow to take his hand off of the throttle.

Then we meet Brad Pitt's scene-chewing Lt. Aldo Raine, leader of the titular "basterds," a group of mostly Jewish-American fighters who aim to use sheer brutality to strike terror in the heart of the average Nazi soldier.

The Basterds join up with German movie star and double-agent Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger) in an effort to infiltrate a movie premiere with a guest list that's a who's who of the Third Reich (and a rumored appearance by the Fuhrer).

Inglourious Basterds is a conundrum. It's a bit too talky and layered for those looking for a quick shot of action-flick adrenaline. (And it's got some subtitles!) It's a bit too campy and bloody to appeal to the art-house crowd. But the audience who likes a bit of both - namely Tarantino's base - will find it just right.

Basterds has been bouncing around Tarantino's head for roughly a decade, and what finally came tumbling out is both wonderful and messy.

Five chapters, two intersecting story arcs and some Nazi scalping are run through the wash with some vintage QT dialogue and wicked humor. It's as indulgent as, well, every other Tarantino flick, but he's got the stones to pull it off. The two-and-a-half hour running time flies by.

If you've seen all those great trailer moments, you know Pitt's Tennessee-drawling tirades about "killin' Nat-zis" are going to be the signature moments, though his character isn't quite as central as you've been led to believe. And it's hard not to imagine Oscar buzz for Waltz and his meticulously polite Nazi officer, dripping charm and venom with every word.

Basterds may not be exactly what you're expecting, but it's probably better. It's not for everyone, but if it sounds like it's for you, it's glourious.