Hey hey! Nothing like a review in 2013 for a film released in 2012! Django Unchained is the latest film from Director Quentin Tarantino, a bloody western set 2 years before the civil war in the prime time of slavery. The story follows freed slave Django and the man behind his freedom Dr. King Schultz as they team together as bounty hunters on a quest to find and free Django’s wife. The film is under a lot of scrutiny for it’s racial tones and the free use of the word Nigger (don’t look at me like that, Samuel L. Jackson said if you’re gonna use the word then you better fucking say it, and I don’t disregard the words of Mr. Jackson) by a white director, yet also receiving a lot of praise for it’s story and performances. So which category do WE fall under? Hit the jump for the full review.
Django Unchained is Tarantino’s 8th film and the 2nd film in a trilogy of sorts from the filmmaker. Not a trilogy in the sense of all three movies following the same character, but Tarantino’s 3 genre films (Inglorious Basterds being his WWII film, Django Unchained being his Western, and a 3rd film set in another genre) which work in a similar sense to Edgar Wright’s Blood and Ice Cream trilogy. When it comes to Django it’s set in a genre that I grew up with, Westerns, films that my grandfather loved and my father will watch any time he catches one on TV. I knew John Wayne and Clint Eastwood as well as I knew Donatello, Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Raphael. Recently very few films have truly captured the genre they way those classics did but with the remake of True Grit and now Django Unchained these should be the films that people take note of when doing a Western today.
The characters of this film are phenomenal and the actors behind them put together performances that will go down as some of my favorites this year. Christoph Waltz continues to show he is one of the best character actors in the business with his portrayal or Dr. King Schultz, Dentist/Bounty Hunter. He conveys charm, wit, and the ice in his veins necessary to be a mercenary. With all of that he also has a decency to him as he frees Django and vows to help him get his wife back. Every moment Waltz is on screen it was a true pleasure and his interactions with the various other characters were truly entertaining. More lead roles need to make their way to this man NOW! As good as Waltz was in this film I truly feel his performance was rivaled by Leonardo DiCaprio. His role as plantation owner Calvin Candie showed a side of DiCaprio’s acting ability I never knew existed making Candie a truly hated villain and one worthy of being the main focus of the closing plot point. Watching the character turn from rich and joyful to cold blooded and violent at the drop of a hat was eye opening and some of the best twists in the entire film.
Jamie Foxx as Django also has moments to shine and overall was a good character. His strongest points are near the middle to end of the film as he really branches out past a freed slave with a small vocabulary. The most unfortunate thing about his character is he”s completely overshadowed when sharing the screen with Waltz and DiCaprio, though for the climax Django is given an incredible amount of redemption. Another large surprise was Samuel L. Jackson’s role as Stephen, Calvin Candie’s oldest and most tenured house slave. The portrayal is completely over the top at the beginning garnering a huge amount of laughs for his hostility and disregard for holding any comments back. Once his character turns though he becomes a calculating villain that has some of the most evil scenes in the film.
The action is also quite satisfying, bloody, and in abundance over the course of the film. It’s the level of violence expected in a Tarantino film and in some spots goes over the top, but for those brief moments that it does it’s still enjoyable. I also was surprised with how much humor was in the film. I always expect some of Tarantino’s clever wit to be in the film but the amount of it I wasn’t expecting. I was certainly caught off guard by a certain scene involving homemade masks and the inability to see out of them. All in all the action combined with the comedic parts helped balance out the dialogue and story of the film in one of Tarantino’s best balanced pieces of cinema. Death Proof and Inglorious Basterds both had sequences where it just felt long and a bit boring but Django did a good job of switching to something new just when I was about to reach that point.
What Didn’t Work
No matter how well the pacing was to me I still noticed the movie was a tad long, and other movie goers felt it more than I did. Maybe it’s something to be expected for Tarantino’s films but regardless I’m sure there were parts in there that could of been cut to make the film a more manageable length for common folk.
Jamie Foxx’s Dick, ain’t nobody got time for that!
That’s really it, the more I think about it I just can’t come up with more that didn’t work for me.
Nigger: The Controversy
This word is spoken in the film over 100 times and because of this it has sparked a debate and a level of anger from some fans as well as fellow directors and celebrities. All I can say is the use of the word did not hurt my experience with the film. At first I felt a little uncomfortable, but as the film progressed I stopped focusing on the use of the word and paid attention to the actual story and performances. They far outshine a mere word and at some point I feel that fear over words or subjects needs to be eliminated when it comes to film. They are not going away, we cannot bury them forever, if someone can use these in a manner that still comes out as amazing content who cares if they use controversial materials? Also for anyone who decided to boycott the film based on remarks made by Jamie Foxx on Saturday Night Live please do me a favor, stop being an idiot.
Django Unchained is one of my favorite films for all of 2012, with a great blend of action, writing, and amazing actors it really is a must see. I would go as far as to say it’s a film I love almost as much as Pulp Fiction, a film I consider Tarantino’s best work.