Django Unchained Reviews
Set two years before the Civil War, Django Unchained tells the story of Dr. King Schulz, a dentist-turned-bounty hunter who enlists the help of a slave named Django on his escapades. As the two become friends, Schulz learns that Django's wife is still a slave at one of the South's largest plantations and the two conspire a way to set her free. However, this proves a difficult and dangerous feat, leading to a big finale showdown.
*Possible spoilers ahead*
TARANTINO HAS DONE IT AGAIN. ABSOLUTE MASTERPIECE OF A FILM. It was quite bold when Tarantino announced he would be trying to 'modernize' the spaghetti western with his newest film 'Django Unchained'. Tarantino had already had classics to his name, including such works as Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2, and Inglorious Basterds, but this was pushing the boundaries of cinema even more than what he was known for and what was acceptable in film history, as western had not had its hay-day in popularity since in 40 years. However, what we got was an absolute marvel and near flawless film that comes around once in a long time, and proof that Tarantino belongs in the Pantheon of Top Directors of All-Time (Top 7 objectively, Top 5 in my opinion). Here's why.
The film is so masterfully crafted, I don't know where to begin. First, from the opening credits of the film, you instantly get the feel of the classic genres of film like westerns cinema-lovers like me adore. The film is brilliantly constructed and the story equally unfolded so that there is never a dull moment, even in dialogue-only scenes which is a marvel of a feat difficult for many directors and writers to attain aside from Tarantino's famously grand and bold action sequences.
The acting in this film is breathtaking. I maintain that Django Unchained might have one of the most legendary casts EVER assembled in a film: Academy-Award winners Christoph Waltz, Jamie Foxx, and Leonardo DiCaprio, Academy Award nominees Samuel L. Jackson and Jonah Hill, and Golden Globe and Emmy (most aforementioned share these as well) winner Kerry Washington. Like literally just read out loud that cast. Insanity. And they do not disappoint, Christoph Waltz and DiCaprio steal the show with All-Time great performances, but there is not one weak link, all actors sharing the spotlight and coming together to make a spectacularly acted film on every level.
The range of the film is equally wowing. The cinematography for one features perfectly-shot scenes ranging from the old west to mountain canyons to southern plantations. The soundtrack is unbelievable and as diverse as humanly possible in a film, while always working with the scene its paired with. You have classical Beethoven, old west tunes, hard rap from Rick Ross, R&B, and even JAPANESE music all smushed together, and somehow it fits perfectly. Unreal testament to how talented Tarantino and his staff are.
Django Unchained also balances tear-jerking humor with a serious and psychologically complex script drawing on heavy issues such as religious ideology, classic fairy tales vs. real life, and the horrors of slavery. The movie is downright HILARIOUS. Dr. Schulz sly humor always hits the mark and Django too and there are genius sequences like the KKK horse-riding and "bag"-incident, but Samuel L. Jackson had me actually weak from laughing so hard, one of the funniest roles I've seen in a long time and refreshing in the film's ultimate motif of diversity and range in all aspects including tone.
Finally, the action. Yes, Tarantino's specialty and flare. He certainly does not disappoint in his bold extravanganza of a finale shootout at the Candies' estate, the most memorable moment of the film and an absolutely jaw-dropping and thrilling sequence. The gore is moderate in comparison to most of his other films, genius in order to draw a bigger crowd that won't be scared off by something as inconsequential as violence, but I'd like it if it was a little more turned down (not a problem for me but others understandably) so that everyone else could love it and enjoy the film in its entirety as much as I do.
That, and that I wish the film was about 15-20 min shorter, as 2:45 is a long time, are the only (infinitesimally) small flaws I can find in this masterpiece of a film from an All-Time great director in complete control of his craft.
Most Memorable Moment: Final shootout at the Candies' estate
Pros: Incredible acting with one of the most legend-packed casts of all-time with Christoph Waltz (show-stealing performance), Jamie Foxx, Kerri Washington, Jonah Hill, Leo DiCaprio, & Sam L. Jackson, a masterfully crafted and written story that is funny, deep, tear-jerking, and action-packed drawing on religious ideology, classic fairy tales, and reinventing a bygone genre in westerns and mixing it with modern technology and cinematic techniques, sure-handed direction and writing by a director in full control of his craft in Tarantino, hilarious in its poking fun of slavery's absurdity and scenes like the KKK scene, expert balancing of light-heartedness and seriousness in tone and plot, amazing soundtrack mixing classic Western-inspired tunes with even modern rap, bold decision pushing the boundaries of Hollywood to try to modernize the spaghetti western (a bygone and legendary genre in film), stunning cinematography with meticulously crafted shots ranging from old west scenery to mountain canyons to southern plantations, thrilling action sequences and final shootout in classic Tarantino style and grandeur, gore that's still graphic but toned-down in relation to most of Tarantino's movies in a brilliant way to not have it ruin the public and moderates' vision of the movie, clever construction of the film and story, Tarantino's most complete film yet
Cons: Gore could've been turned down a tiny bit more for the mass appeal, wish it was 15-20 min shorter but these both are very minor flaws
Overall Rating: 9.7/10
It is still quintessentially a Tarantino film, but he seems to be evolving as a film maker which each new film (especially in his offerings of late...)
'Django Unchained' is an action/comedy/western adventure with the best bits of all the genres. There is even a romantic element at its core. In this, it has all you might want from a film in equal measures.
Dr. King Schultz, the witty German bounty-hunter, in disguise as a dentist, is the heart and soul of the film?s subtle humor. Slavery had been abolished in Europe for decades at the point of the story (2 years before the Civil War) and his kindness toward Django and disgust of slavery are translated to the audience clearly. Cristoph Waltz revels in this part, just as he did in Inglorious Basterds, and obviously has a lot of fun with the intricacies of his character. Definitely a man to watch in future films.
Jamie Foxx is great as Django, changing from the angry slave stuck in fetters, with no fight left in him... to the gun-slinging, powerhouse cowboy that takes down the evils of the south. His performance is a subtle one, compared to Waltz's eccentric European, but it is equally as effective. He also has one of the best lines in the film... Stephen: "I count 6 bullets... Django: "I count 2 guns!"... Haha, love it! Another performance that deserves a mention is that of Leonardo DiCaprio. I have always rated him as an actor (if you doubt it, check out 'What's eating Gilbert Grape') and I think he's brilliant in this. The character of Calvin Candie is as camp and eccentric as that of Dr. Schultz, but behind the eyes is a sinister man, drugged up on power. DiCaprio has loads of fun with this, lacing his southern drawl with courtesies that only serve to cover the evil intentions beneath. The subject matter of this film is sometimes hard to watch, and it's hard to believe the attitudes that were acceptable and would you believe 'normal' in America at that time. Tarantino handles it well though, deftly moving from serious to humorous to ultra-violent without the film feeling jarred or with too much going on. The gore is a little over the top, but it gives the films the stylized feel that I so enjoyed in the Kill Bills. This is not his best film, in my opinion, but it's up there...and I struggle to fault it. A thoroughly enjoyable cinematic experience... another string to the Tarantino bow...a sharp and witty expose of a harsh, racist and barbaric time in American history. Another gem from our friend QT!
If you like the N-bomb, but you are a hypocrite about it, THIS IS YOUR MOVIE,