Django Unchained Review | The Movie Bit

Django Unchained Review

Quentin Tarantino seems to be working his way back through the ages. We’ve had the modern day crime thrillers, the World War II scalp fests and now Tarantino arrives in The Wild West with Django Unchained. A tale of a dentist bounty hunter, Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), who frees a slave Django (Jamie Foxx) and gets him involved in his business, and it ain't dentistry. They both embark on a quest of bounty hunting as well as attempting to resuce Django’s wife, (Kerry Washington)  who is “owned” by Calvin Candie (Leondardo Di Caprio). Django Unchained is a movie of two quite distinct halves. Firstly, Schultz has to claim a number of bounties and when he has enough bodies racked up it’s then he’ll help Django free his wife, and thats where the second half kicks in. But its all very well connected with our bounty hunters getting a number of lucky breaks, so things get moving quite quickly.

That's the first thing that stands out with Django Unchained, for the most part is pacing is pretty hectic, helped in turn with a script that pushes the movie along on a continuous basis. On occasion though, it gets a bit bogged down with a number of short, but seemingly aimless scenes which clock up its 165 minute running time. But you are only minutes away from a great scene, a hilarious piece of dialogue or the epic chemistry that Foxx and Waltz bounce off each other with. Christoph Waltz is genuinely brilliant. Underneath his dentist persona, he is one bad ass, stone cold killer, but all the time he projects this incredibly likeable persona. As is our title character, Django. Jamie Foxx plays this role impeccably well. Not only is he likeable, but he quickly pulls you into his world and what he is fighting for and once he starts getting some outfits, he oozes cool! He also keeps the whole brooding, ready to snap vibe going really well and on occasion his intensity level is through the roof. The real standout here though is the bad guys.

Samuel L Jackson is head of the Candie house, controlling, ordering and abusing the other slaves who all work in various capacities. His contempt for Django grows quite rapidly and while he projects a broken old man vibe, he is pure wicked and conniving  He is not a likeable character but you hang on every word he says as his performance is full of great dialogue and he delivers it superbly. Combine this with an amazing chemistry with DiCaprio and this is easily one of the best performances of Jackson’s career. It’s quite the role for DiCaprio who completely transforms into this incredibly well to do plantation worker who has a “thing” for Mandingo fighting. Again, not a likeable guy, a real nasty piece of work, but his presence on screen is again brilliant. From a casting point of view Django Unchained is pretty much perfect. Its hard to imagine anybody else in these roles are they are played so well. Tarantino has a unique trick of making unlikeable characters more likeable than the heroes themselves! The supporting cast include Kerry Washington (Django’s wife, Broomhilda) and Don Johnson (Big Daddy, a plantation owner) and while their parts are small, they compliment the movie very well. Kerry Washington exudes a great innocence with her performance and makes an impact quite quickly, but her role is secondary to everything else, even though the entire movie is about her freedom.

One comes to expect some bloodshed with any Tarantino movie, and Django is no exception. The blood itself, is almost a character here. It’s never been redder and the unique way it emerges on screen is rather beautiful, as bizarre as that may sound. The blood splatter on some flowers is particuarly beautiful. Combined with a number of original deaths, you are in for a treat. Granted, if violence isn’t your thing, well…..
And as one also comes to expect with a Tarantino movie, great dialogue. And again, there is no exception made here. That said, be warned, the “N” word is peppered throughout quite frequently, which no doubt may offend some people. But if anything it adds an authenticity to the film which will have people debating the slavery of years gone by, as the portrayal of what happened, at times is genuinely shocking and horrific. Contrastingly though, more past Tarantino movies, humour is another frequent occurrence here and you will be laughing out loud on many an occasion. Great dialogue doesn’t work unless your cast can deliver it, and deliver it they do, especially Foxx and Jackson who like machine gun fire, spit out great line after great line.

Visually Django Unchained is quite large in scale, potentially the biggest Tarantino has ever done. There is no question about the time period. A solid attention to detail and at time breath-taking scenery pulls you in and keeps you there. The set pieces and shoot outs are handled in typical Tarantino fashion, which is as you’d guess, full of tension and excitement.

Of course the soundtrack is another pivotal part of the Tarantino experience, and while its nowhere as fantastic as past Tarantino outings it does work quite well in the actual movie, but a number of tracks are quite, surprisingly unmemorable. The biggest downfall of Django Unchained is Tarantino himself.As much as this reviewer loves the director, his on screen role here in last quarter is painful to watch, simply because of his god awful Australian impression. At least I think its an Australian impression. And while its a smile gripe, it stands out like a shotgun blast to your head and It’s  enough to jolt you out of the movie for a moment in time.

It’s not without its faults as discussed above, but  they are small enough to be forgiven, because the movie pulls you back in..normally with a bang in most cases. Django Unchained is a fantastic and exciting piece of cinema full of great scenes (Schultz's horse Fritz steals every scene he’s in), great dialogue and incredibly likeable characters. It’s everything you’d expect from Tarantino and then some! Highly recommended!


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