Movie Review: Django Unchained
Originally published on Tired of Previews?
Question: Are you a fan of Tarantino films? Both my hands are up, high. I have admired the writer/producer/actor/director for over 20 years now. In fact, Reservoir Dogs is in my top 5 favorite films of all time. Sure, there have been a few of his films I didn’t care for but Django Unchained is not one of them. I really enjoyed his latest endeavor into his of love all things 60’s/70’s filmmaking homage.
Personally I do not care for Westerns and was leery when I saw that Tarantino’s film was going down that road, but I see everything thing he touches. This story was about the horrible racism in our country. Now I have mentioned in the past that I abhor racism; and I did have difficulty hearing the n-word over and over and over again, but Tarantino is the opposite of a racist and the main theme of this film is to show how stupid, idiotic, ignorant and how revolting racists were. (Spike Lee – did you hear that?)
The theatre was packed when I sat down, the credits rolled along with the opening theme song, who I thought was Elvis singing at first. Then was worried it was going to be a typical spaghetti western but then the actors of Django Unchained and Tarantino’s name were splattered across the screen in red – and I smiled. FYI: I did discover, after viewing, the opening sequence – song and lettering – is an homage (some may say rip off) of Django (1966) the Sergio Corbucci film.
The story starts off immediately with showing slaves chained together, walking barefoot and barely dressed in the cold. Two white men accompany them on horseback. My heart dropped at the visuals but knew the story would soon take a Tarantino twist. And boy did it! Now I don’t want to really say any details about the film, but I will mention that I did not think I would find myself laughing, cheering and reveling in all the acts of Django and Dr. Schultz’s adventures but I did – a lot. In fact, so did most of the people in the theatre. We all realized what we were watching up on the big screen and what Tarantino artfully communicated. Plus, the character, Schultz, played by Christoph Waltz, was brilliant and the exact opposite of his character in Inglourious Basterds but was just as powerful and appealing. He stole the show again.
The story is fairly linear for Tarantino with only a few flashbacks as Django describes some of his past to Schultz, or when Django recalls his wife as the unlikely pair travel throughout the winter working on Schultz’s professional duties. I won’t tell you what that is but will say several scenes where Schultz (and Django) perform such tasks you might laugh and cringe. My favorite scene is towards the beginning in a saloon as Schultz describes what he does and why he is there at the moment. Fantastic.
As you might expect, Django Unchained is pretty violent and bloody. In fact, it was so over the top during the climax scene that it is almost comical. Not saying that is a bad thing, but it is so Tarantino that it is expected and would have been a letdown if it wasn’t so.
Jamie Foxx (Django) and Christoph Waltz (Schultz) were phenomenal and will most likely be honored with many accolades and awards for their participation in Django Unchained. However, DiCaprio, who is usually quite good in everything he does, was a bit of a disappointment. I wished he had pushed his character further and made him truly evil. His character was despicable but the overtly charming persona became dull after a while.
Kerry Washington, who had to go through several horrendous moments in this film, was also sensational. Plus, the connection between her and Django was palpable even though they hardly shared much screen time together. And I must give Tarantino some huge credit that he intertwined a love story into his film. That is nowhere near his norm and perhaps with age he is becoming a romantic. Actually, I want to challenge Mr. Tarantino: His next film should be a romance – we know you can do, Mr. True Romance. Oh, and Mr. DiCaprio, might I suggest you try a comedy next? We have all but forgotten your stint on Growing Pains.
In conclusion, if you have any qualms with the level of derision that has surrounded Django Unchained and haven’t seen the film based on that, ignore the naysayers and just go see this film. Tarantino makes his point very well and no artist should be put down on their stories and the telling of them just because of the color of his skin or that someone took a period of our history and decided to tell it from an alternative angle. That’s art and Tarantino is a master artist. Period!
Last point: The soundtrack and score to Django Unchained is BRILLIANT! Tarantino knows how to make music work in his films. Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) – Various Artists
My favorite part: Chrisoph Waltz.
My least favorite part: The constant use of the n-word.
Directed (and written) by Quentin Tarantino, Weinstein Company, 2012.
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Kerry Washington, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson.
Genre: Action, Drama, Western.
Length: 160 minutes
Review: 9 out of 10
P.S. Please look closely at some of the minor characters and extras. You should recognize many of them, and don’t be surprised if you see actors play two different roles.
Tags: bloody, Christoph Waltz, Django, Django Unchained, Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington, Leonardo DiCaprio, racism, romance, spaghetti western, Spike Lee, Tarantino