Swanner: With the help of his mentor, a slave-turned-bounty hunter sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner. This is the bare bones description of Quentin Tarantino's new film Django Unchained (The D is silent). Tarantino not only directed but wrote the film that take a Tarantino look at slavery much the way he handled the Nazi's in Inglorious Basterds. The main cast includes Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L Jackson and Kerry Washington but the supporting cast is a very cool mix of some older actors.
Judd: I am a huge fan of Blaxploitation movies, and this isn?t Tarantino?s first foray into Blaxploitation genre; however, this is the first time in decades where a filmmaker has made a Blaxploitation film that wasn?t afraid to wallow in the racist and violent muck that original movies like Mandingo called their bread and butter. During the height of 70s Blaxploitation filmmaking there were only 14 Black Westerns made, Django Unchained would have fit right in.
Swanner: I'm not a big western fan but when it's done the right way a good movie is a good movie. I always liked the Blaxploitation as well but I liked the horror and comedy better. I like the way Tarantino has no problems dealing with his dialog. In the 1850's they used certain words more freely then we ever would today. They must have used that word 100 times in the movie. Beside the "N" word the script is a sharp and brilliant as any of his scripts. My biggest problem is that we have to wait three years for new movies from him...it's not fair.
Judd: The performances here are amazing as well. Christoph Waltz proved himself to be the ultimate coldblooded killer in Inglorious Basterds and his turn in Django proves him to be friendly and affable, but still a coldblooded killer. DiCaprio is amazing as plantation owner and Mandingo fighter Calvin Candie. His commitment to the distasteful role is a testament to his acting chops. In these ?sensitive? times, I could easily see an actor turning down such a role, yet DiCaprio owns it.
Swanner: There is a wonderful salute to Mel Brooks with a mirrored moment from Blazing Saddles. You could also say that the Django character was quite a bit like Cleavon Little's Bart. As with all Tarantino's films the music is its own star. How he comes up with the songs he uses is a genius all its own. All the performances are good. It's amazing how a 2:46 running time just flew by but they say time flies when you're having fun...I had a lot of fun with the film. One last thing is Tarantino knows how to end a movie and end it well. He just makes great movies.
Judd: There were several moments at the tail end of the movie where it could have ended and, to me, the actual ending felt more like an epilogue. The more delicate types are going to balk at the constant use of ?nigger? and the savage, horrific violence inflicted upon the slaves. In this modern day of tiptoes and eggshells, we?re only allowed to talk about such things in hushed reverence or pretend like it didn?t exist. Tarantino takes those atrocities, thrusts them back into the limelight and uses them to craft the genre of movie that I figured to be forbidden, and one of the best overall movies I?ve seen.
Judd: **** 1/2