on December 29, 2012
I really liked Django Unchained, or as I like to call it: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence right through the eyeball and then the bullet continued through about 7 other torsos, shot out from a guy's belly button bringing a plume of intestines with it, ricocheted off someone's jugular vein, then snapped the cord holding up a chandelier causing said chandelier to plummet like a lead balloon, crushing the skulls of various evil varmints and polecats and then plunging into an occupied outhouse where the dynamite was also stored, causing the outhouse to explode in a crimson rain of blood, guts and offal.
But I guess all that wouldn't fit on the poster.
Django has everything you'd want in a movie, action, humor, suspense, drama, and even some romance, all washed down with gallons of blood. Did I mention some beautiful western vistas? it's got those too. And there are plenty of refernces to some of the geat westerns of the past, some of them only visual so pay attention. There is the trade mark Tarantino dialogue as well.
I'm sure other reviewers will talk about racial-political implications and social commentary and such. I'm not that smart. I just thought this was a fast paced and satisfying film for movie fans from beginning to end. Leonardo Di Caprio makes for a great villain, keeping himself just this side of over-the-top. Jamie Fox played Django as quiet waters that ran deep but Christopher Walz steals the show, although Samuel L. Jackson almost beat him to it.
on April 16, 2013
I don't claim to have the best taste in movies. There are quite a few lousy ones that I do enjoy quite a bit. A lot of my friends were not fans of the film but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I just don't think that there are many people that do a better job at acting than Christoph Waltz. He brings an unmatched excitement and enthusiasm to the movies which he's in.
on January 8, 2013
As an avid fan of Quentin Tarantino, there's a level of quality that I expect from each film that he makes. I expect to connect with his characters, but not necessarily like any of them. I expect to see a film that satisfies the film geek in me. More than anything, I expect to see a film that entertains throughout the prerequisite bloated running time.
"Django Unchained" is nearly three hours long. But it never feels that long, it entertains and surprises every step along the way. When I first checked my watch, we were already two hours into the film. All of Tarantino's films are usually about this long. Tarantino has been having fun with fictionalizing historical periods lately. This started with 2009's "Inglourious Basterds", which was easily one of the best films of that year. My eighty-something year old grandmother, who lived through the time that the film depicted - World War II - said that if events actually happened as they did in that film, that we would be living in a better world today. I think that's a pretty high compliment, especially since my grandmother is not Tarantino's target audience. He was able to design a great story - not an idealistic view of that time period, but still a pretty fascinating one.
"Django" is about slavery...a taboo subject in any film, a strangely popular one, recently, as the same time period is explored in "Lincoln". It's about Django (Jamie Foxx), a slave who is bought and then freed by Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz, one-upping himself from the fantastic performance he gave in "Basterds"), a dentist turned bounty hunter. White supremacist slave owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) bought and enslaved his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), and Django and Schultz are out to correct the grave injustice done to both of them, and this doesn't mean just capturing and killing Candie, but many others who are responsible for the trauma experienced by Broomhilda.
Christoph Waltz has got to be one of the finest living actors in Hollywood. He's incredibly charismatic, but he cares about his character, first and foremost. As the prime antagonist in "Basterds", he was positively horrifying. In this film, he's the hero, but at the same time, he's anything but that. He brings humor and depth to a character that wouldn't have worked this well otherwise. Jamie Foxx does a good job as well, but I don't necessarily see him winning anything this Oscar season.
I'm half-tempted to call "Django" Quentin Tarantino's superhero movie. Django is by no means that, he's an oppressed figure with no real "super powers", however he's a kick-ass guy who the audience roots for from the very beginning. He even has his own theme song! We don't know how he appears to be more literate than other slaves, and he is somehow always able to outsmart those around him.
"Django" shows Tarantino having slightly more respect for genre than he ever has. It's a western revenge epic, first and foremost. It's also kind of a comedy, with some of the most clever dialogue I've heard in a film in 2012. It's also a romance, displaying the forbidden love between Django and his wife. But it's first and foremost a western, and Tarantino sticks to that.
This film isn't perfect, however. One thing I expect from Tarantino is well-developed strong female characters. We don't have that in "Django". I was hoping that Kerry Washington, who is also badass protagonist Olivia Pope in ABC's "Scandal", would be smart and strong-willed enough to get herself out of the problems which are out of her hands. I was hoping for Tarantino to give her some snappy dialogue, to show that her character is, like Django, superior to all of the other slaves around her. She isn't. She just kind of stands there and whimpers. She's helpless, and I wasn't expecting that from Tarantino, who has written some of the best female protagonists in film.
Other than this, "Django Unchained" is a masterful film. It takes alot for a nearly three hour long film to be engaging the entire way through, and it is. It's wickedly funny, and at the same time, extremely dramatic. With its graphic violence and filthy mouth, it isn't for the faint of heart. All of the actors here, especially DiCaprio, seem to be having tons of fun here, and it shows. Tarantino loves to fictionalize history, and if such films are as good as "Django Unchained", I think he should keep doing it. It's a vision of history that only Tarantino can bring us.
on April 7, 2013
Yes it's violent and bloody, and yes, the "n" word is used liberally throughout the movie, but it's a Tarantino film taking place in pre-Civil War South for pete's sake. What would you expect?
All three leading actors were amazing. Fox & Waltz were insanely good. Beautifly shot and a compelling story that I was never quite sure how all would be resolved (other than knowing a bunch a folks were gonna die).
In honor of Roger Ebert, I give it two thumbs up. R.I.P. Mr. Ebert.
on January 14, 2013
Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) is a well spoken bounty hunter who acquires Django (Jamie Foxx) to find and kill some men who are wanted, "dead or alive." Dr. Schultz isn't too keen on the "live" part.
The film divides itself into two parts. After the bounty hunting episodes are through, our duo conceive a plan to rescue the wife of Django (Kerry Washington) by purchasing her from Candie Land plantation. Dr. Schultz has no stomach for slavery or slave owners. Leonardo DiCaprio doesn't enter the film until the second part.
Like Tarantino films it incorporates humor. The bag over the head scene was reminiscent of something we might have seen in "Blazing Saddles." The flashbacks are minimal and not confusing. There is of course the over the top climatic ending and plenty of blood.
I have to question the use of the MF bomb several times in this picture. The first know usage of the word is the 1930s. It is speculated the phrase originated during slavery as a way to describe white owners who would take black mothers as comfort women. The phrase would of had a specific meaning and not used in the generic sense that Samuel L. Jackson tossed about.
Tarantino fans will not be disappointed. Great sound track.
Parental Guidance: F-bomb,N-word, nudity (Kerry Washington). No sex. Killing and slow motion blood splatter.
on April 24, 2013
I liked Django Unchained, but wasn't overly thrilled with the film. Jamie Foxx did a great job stepping into the shoes of an old western actor, and Samuel L. & Leonardo DiCaprio both knocked out their roles as villains. Christopher Waltz also did a great job nailing his character.
Over all a very Tarantino feeling flick - great shoot outs (wild blood splatters), cool music (modern hip hop at times, with classic western sounds/music at others - interesting balance), but not a "great movie", the story itself needed more action - which saved the film, and less filler scenes.
on April 12, 2015
My grandfather is the kind of person who only watches classic westerns and doesn't like trying new things.
But when I saw this, I loved it, and thought he might too, so I bought it as a Christmas present.
My grandmother told me he couldn't take his eyes off it. She tried distracting him and he just declined and kept watching. This is an excellent movie and if you're a fan of classic westerns, you won't be disappointed with this modern one. Take the risk; it's worth it.
on November 11, 2013
Kind of disappointed. Feels more like a series of events rather than a cohesive whole like the best of Tarantino films. Don't really understand what's great about Waltz in this one (I did understand the Inglourious Basterds hype). To me Samuel L Jackson deserved the supporting actor nomination (or win). Dude's fantastic in this.
on January 5, 2015
Makes the catastrophic mistake of not ending exactly where it should. If it didn't tack on all those minutes of totally stupid and not-so-well-done scenes of, you know, mindless carnage...This would have totally been slick.
Now, I like mindless carnage. But not when it's prefaced with an Inglourious Basterds sort of flavor, fearless, extremely Tarantino-ish and excellent dialogue, all the things you'd want in a Tarantino film, really.
You gotta give DiCaprio at least a silent applause for the should-have-been-the-ending scene *near* the end of the film, before it goes totally blows its own spirit to hell.
I'll forgive that Foxx has nothing to work with when it comes to his character. Django just is totally one-dimensional, practically a side-character to the people you sort of came to see, particularly Waltz, DiCaprio, and Jackson. The camera generally follows Django, but because he's so astonishingly under-written (kind of the exact opposite of your usual Tarantino character) with almost nothing to do the whole film, it's so inconsistent, the ending takes away at least two stars from an otherwise pretty awesome film.
After the should-have-ended-there scene happens, everything comes toppling down, and you start waiting for the film to end--primarily because it just did, and you know what's going to happen already. There aren't any surprises. There's just a rampage. But it's there for practically no reason, and shouldn't have existed, because it cheapens the film horribly.
Everything up until the last 45 minutes? Frickin' awesome. Beautiful. DiCaprio gets a damned fine performance in.
But those last 45 minutes? As one-star as something can get, and even worse that it was preceded by so much top-notch work by everyone involved in the film. It's like they ripped out Tarantino completely then (it's cued precisely when that what-the-hell-is-this-doing-here modern rap song starts playing during that one gunfight...You know the one), and the climactic scene is nothing but raw Michael Bay. I *know* it's terribly cliche to even mention his name, but if that's not what Bay would have done...Yeah, it actually works here.
Shame on you, horribly stupid ending. If you hadn't happened, this all would have been a wonderful experience.
In `Django Unchained' Quentin Tarantino continues to fictionalise history, as he did so successfully in `Inglorious B's'. Here he brings his violent comic-book style of film making to the period of black plantation-slavery in the pre-civil war southern states of the US.
Essentially DU is a fantasy-revenge western containing all the clichés of that genre as written by Sergio Leone in the 1960s. The screenplay is an amalgam of `Kill Bill' (the relentless repetitive splattering of enemies one by one, and sometimes 10 by 10) and IB (the fantasy revenge of a persecuted minority on their evil-cartoon-cut-out oppressors). As such its target audience is more likely to be juvenile and sensation-seeking than mature and sophisticated.
The saving grace of all Tarantino's films is the witty and clever dialogue, which here (unlike the action and basic plot) is anything but formulaic and continues to entertain throughout. The excellent Christoph Waltz trumps even his stellar appearance as the Nazi villain in IB to deliver a second Oscar-winning performance as King Schultz, the catalyst who holds the story together and drives the action for all but the final reel. Waltz's dialogue is witty, original, cliché-free; delivered with a rare commanding intelligence and perfect timing. Leonardo DiCaprio turns in yet another outstanding character performance as the monstrous white racist and slave-owner Calvin J. Candie, Schultz's ultimate nemesis. Considering the restrictions of his dialogue Jamie Foxx is just OK but simply doesn't have the screen presence of for example Clint Eastwood in the `Dollars' movies to which DU pays homage; Samuel L. Jackson however shines in a difficult role as smart, sycophantic house slave Stephen inexplicably devoted to Candie. The only disappointment among the main characters is Kerry Washington as Django's enslaved and long-suffering wife Broomhilda. In place of the strong ballsy character full of defiance and witty dialogue that she might have been she instead just whimpers, whines and suffers causing the audience to wonder what on Earth does Django see in her?
The mostly clever script however does not rescue the film from the usual Tarantino excess. Unable to resist the temptation to titillate the juvenile sensibilities of his target audience and instead offer the audience any deeper perspectives on slavery, almost every sentence of dialogue for the whole 165 minutes is sprinkled with the `n' & `f' words. The ketchup-splatter violence gets to be - well just dull, actually. It's overdone to the point of pastiche, so anaesthetises its audience to the degree that all impact is lost. Tarantino needs to mature as a film maker and realise that if a measure of profanity in the right place adds to the power of a script and occasional acts of violence can hook the audience, then relentless repetition actually diminishes the viewing experience and can cause any mature thinking audience (with a mental age above 12) to lose interest and switch off.
So overall just OK: good dialogue and screenwriting with some exemplary acting performances, but ultimately marred by plastic, splatter-cartoon violence, almost ubiquitous unsophisticated racial stereotyping, little attempt at historical accuracy and as a film, lacking in serious substance. This is a shame, as the result could have been so much better. But hey, you may say, at the end of the day it's just schlock entertainment and fantasy fulfilment, not meant to be real - which is true.