Thursday, January 10, 2013

REVIEW: Django Unchained

Django Unchained

Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz


December 25, 2012

Quentin Tarantino

The Weinstein Company,
Columbia Pictures

2 hours 45 minutes



It should be fair to mention that prior to my viewing experience with 'Django Unchained,' I had never been able to see any other Quentin Tarantino films due to my parent's concern over his use of blood and violence. It took a lot of begging and persuasion to get my father to take me to see this film, and somehow I succeeded at pulling that once impossible feat off. Alas, I have now had the pleasure of experiencing a Tarantino film with what is considered to be his bloodiest film to date. With many action films, the violence is exploited and used for all style and no substance. Tarantino knows how to use violence and gory gushes of blood to show substance and style while never fully exploiting it unless required. 'Django Unchained' is brutal and hard to watch at times. For the most part however, it is a fantastic character and time study filled with thrills, laughs, a killer soundtrack with catchy modern tunes, and a fantastic script written by Tarantino himself. Why not start off January by seeing a good old fashioned spaghetti western with a lot of gore thrown in?

Two years before the Civil War began, a group of slaves were sold from an auction by two brothers. Along the way of their weary travels, a dentist on wheels who is a bounty hunter undercover named Dr. King Schultz approaches them with the desire to negotiate about one of the slaves that these two brothers bought. This slave happens to be Django, a man with a tragic past. After a small disagreement between Schultz and the brothers, Django and Schultz team up at first to kill off a notorious group of criminals known as the Brittle Brothers. Once that is done, Django reveals that his wife was also sold as a slave in Mississippi, but he doesn't know where she is in the slave capital of America. It turns out that Django's wife Broomhilda is owned by a man named Calvin Candie, whose plantation Candyland is famous to slaves everywhere. Django and Schultz then plan to con Candie out in order to rescue Broomhilda from his charismatic by devious hands. Things don't go the way these two bounty hunters planned, and the rest has to be seen for yourself.

If it were any other director doing this movie, I highly doubt it would have worked as well as it did with Tarantino behind the camera. His direction and his fantastic script go hand and hand into making a movie that never feels long and is just a lot of fun to watch throughout. There is a lot of gore in the film, but what I liked the most about the violence in the movie is that the gore was only used for the over the top things, including the big shootout in the climax of the film. The rest of the violence, which is mostly torturous situations towards slaves, is not shown and is rather implied, which makes the scene much harder to watch. Luckily the film isn't as intense as one might expect from a movie this violent, because the script is hilarious. In almost every scene of the film a good laugh comes out of the audience because of how well-written the script is and how great the delivery from the actors is. Speaking of the actors, there were no weak links in this cast at all. Everyone, whether their part was big or small, was fantastic.

Jamie Foxx isn't exactly the ideal hero one would think of when thinking of a Spaghetti Western. However the Oscar winner delivers on the laughs, the emotion, and the badassery that is Django. This character goes through a lot in this movie, and there is one scene in particular that's very hard to watch. Foxx gives a charismatic and awesome performance that is worthy of being on his resume as his career goes on. Christoph Waltz steals the show as Dr. King Schultz. In almost every scene he's in, Waltz delivers on the best jokes in the movie and had a lot of laughs coming out of me whenever he talked or shot somebody. He without a doubt delivers the best Supporting Actor nomination that he received at this year's Oscars. When it comes to the rest of the cast, like I said there were no weak links.

Leonardo DiCaprio is great as Calvin Candie. This plantation owner might abuse slaves, but there is a charm to this character that makes him somewhat likable. That is until he gets incredibly crazy in which the character turns from a sly and charming plantation owner into a crazy and somewhat frightening demon of a man. There's a scene where DiCaprio slams his hand onto glass and his hand actually started bleeding, but he stayed in character which was incredible to watch. This is a role that I believe will get DiCaprio some more respect and get him more roles possibly as a villain. Samuel L. Jackson is also a great villain as Candie's right hand man Stephen. This is a slave who basically has portrayed his fellow slaves. Jackson delivers on some great laughs as well, but he;s also a despicable character and I couldn't help myself from hating him. His performance is definitely one of the highlights of 'Django' along with Waltz. The rest of the cast, including Kerry Washington and Don Johnson, are all really good in the film. Nobody really stood out other than Waltz, but everyone in the cast delivered on great performances overall.

For a movie that's nearly three hours long, 'Django Unchained' never drags and keeps its audience glued to the screen throughout. The soundtrack is filled with rap music, but it works when it starts booming from the speakers. The acting, script, and story all work together to make a popcorn movie that's as intelligent as it is entertaining. The blood is sometimes exploited on screen, but it works for this Spaghetti Western. Quentin Tarantino has made a bloody, funny, and brutal western that is entertaining as hell and just so much fun to watch. I can't wait to see Tarantino's other films to judge them for myself and hopefully fall in love with his works of art. 'Django Unchained' is a lot of fun to watch, and it is one of the best experiences I've had with a 2012 release thus far, and I can't wait to revisit it again at home or in theaters again.


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