Friday, January 25, 2013

Django Unchained

Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz,
Leonardo Dicaprio, Kerry Washington 
& Samuel L. Jackson
Released: 2012
Runtime: 165 minutes
Rating: 4/5

It’s always exciting to see a new film by Quentin Tarantino as there is always a significant amount of time between them; I find the build-up to be equally exciting to seeing the film itself. I’ve been going to the cinema at least once a week for the past month and almost on every visit I’ve seen the trailer for Django Unchained. Finally the big day arrives; it’s stinking hot outside, my air conditioner is broken so the best place for me is a nice cool overpriced cinema. But unfortunately this was not the movie going experience I was expecting. I think seeing the trailer which is awesome by the way, so many times may have set my expectations a little too high.

So the basic plot; set in 1858 some years prior to the American Civil War, a freed slave named Django (the D is silent) played by Jamie Foxx, sets out with the help of a German bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) to rescues his wife from a wealthy and flamboyant plantation (Leonardo DiCaprio) owner in Mississippi.

Now Django Unchained isn’t bad movie; the two main problems with it are that it’s a bit too long and it’s in dire need of some serious editing. It’s also a little frustration to watch too, there are some great scenes but space between them is too drawn out which comes back to the editing to some degree. And my final gripe is the plot, there are quite a few holes and it feels really disjointed in the second half of the film. It hints that it’s about to go in one direction but it doesn’t, it just continues of its main course.

Now let’s move onto the violence and the use of that word beginning with the letter N. Like in most westerns when people get shot, there’s a small spatter of blood then they hit the ground dead 90% of the time. But in Django Unchained, people get shot, that part of their body explodes then what’s left of them hits the grounds. The film is extremely bloody in true Tarantino style and all the gun play is fantastic. The word ‘nigger’ is used a lot to say the least, the most controversial thing about the film. You could easily say that it’s overused but I don’t abject to it. To me it’s simply a reflection of the time period the film is set in; especially how casually the word is used. But I doubt people back then said it as often the characters do in the film. I think it would be silly to take offence.

The two very noticeable genres of this film are the spaghetti western and blacksploitation, both of which I’ve seen very little of in the past but know when I see it.  It’s a great approach, far better than being just a straight western and its looks great with all the gorgeous cinematography of the very picturesque landscapes and strong vivid colours.

The acting is terrific! In my opinion Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. are the three scene stealers for sure. The dialogue is great as you would expect from a Tarantino film, so cleverly written. Jackson’s character is very funny with a lingo that is clearly from another time which at first does sound out of place but it doesn’t take long to adjust to it and makes his scenes all that more entertaining. One thing I really love about Tarantino films is that you often see actors that you haven’t seen on screen in very long time. In this case for me it would be Dennis Christopher as the lawyer of DiCaprio’s character Calvin Candie. I think I’ve only seen him in Stephen King’s IT and the odd the TV show. Tarantino himself has a small cameo which is just plain awful, in fact it’s embarrassing. He’s tries to put on an Aussie accent but ends up sounding South African; thank goodness his dialogue is limited.  

Overall Django Unchained is not the great film that was Inglourious Basterds but it’s still enjoyable despite its short comings. If you love westers like I do, Spaghetti or America you’ll know doubt enjoy this. Aspects of it are inaccurate and unrealistic but that’s what makes it so much fun, it’s a larger than life western which gives us everything we love about them. It’s a great throw back to the genre and Tarantino clearly had a lot of fun making it. I have a funny feeling that I’m going to enjoy Django Unchained a lot more the second time round.    

                          Check out my summarised video on my YouTube Channel.  

1 comment:

  1. Good review Kevin. Tarantino's latest flick is one of his largest achievements in my opinion. Blending terrifically flowing dialogue with gruesome gore sequences (as always), this is one of the best films of 2012.