Django Unchained (2012)

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9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Strong acting, great visuals, good story

Not for the squeamish, controversy involving the slave story

 
Movie Info

Movie Name:  Django Unchained

Studio:  A Band Apart

Genre(s):  Western/Action/Adventure/Drama/Blaxploitation

Release Date(s):  December 25, 2012

MPAA Rating: R

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Here we come…walkin’ down the street

A German dentist turned bounty-hunter named Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) has taken on a new help in the form of a purchased slave named Django (Jamie Fox).  When Django earns his freedom by helping Schultz track down a number of bounties, Schultz agrees to head to Alabama with him to help free his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) from Calvin J. Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio)…the owner of one of the biggest plantations known as Candie Land.  Candie doesn’t give up his property easily, and the con is on.  Posing as buyers interested in Mandingo fighting, Django and Schulz go undercover at Candie Land to save Hildie, but Candie’s loyal house slave Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson) might ruin their plans.

Directed by Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained follows up his Oscar nominated film Inglourious Basterds (2009) and was met with acclaim and controversy.  The film received Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor (Christoph Waltz) and Best Original Screenplay and nominations for Best Picture, Best Sound Editing, and Best Cinematography.

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Call me Little Lord Fauntleroy…I dare you!!!

In many ways, I’m over Quentin Tarantino, but I did enjoy this film.  I was one of the few who didn’t love Inglourious Basterds (despite some great acting and a few great scenes), but this film once again redeemed the once revolutionary director in my eyes.  My problem with Tarantino is that he tries too hard to be cool…there are definitely times in Django Unchained where Quentin Tarantino’s script goes for laughs and jokes (like the bag discussion by the early version of the Ku Klux Klan…a bit of lightness but really not necessary), but for the most part Tarantino seems to restrain himself more…making him a better director in my opinion (though I still don’t need to see him play an Australian).

The original film Django (1966) and Mandingo (1975) both provided basic story elements for the film.  Mandingo brought in the fighting aspect and the wildly popular Django (which started its own trend of Spaghetti Westerns) brought in a lot of the violence.  Django is violent…the ending segment is a bloodbath, but I felt that hindered the smart story a little.  You knew it was going to get bloody and there are some gruesome scenes before the end, but the end was just too much of an over-the-top bloodbath for the last scenes.

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Wait…this is a movie about slavery? Oh, Hell no!!!

Much of the controversy in the film revolves around the treatment and portrayal of slavery and the use of N-word.  I know Tarantino bended reality a lot with the past…this definitely isn’t a historical document, but I think it would have been really unrealistic and negated the message that slavery isn’t pretty or kind if they didn’t degrade the characters with the N-word.  It wasn’t a word of empowerment at the time and it was used by white slavers to animalize their victims and keep them repressed.  Someone like Spike Lee to criticize this seems a bit hypocritical since I could have seen him making a film like this (to some extent) at the peak of his career.

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Hey…guess who’s not Oscar nominated!!!

The cast in the film is great.  Waltz continues to show he’s a great discovery by Tarantino and holds every scene he’s in.  Fox is solid as Django, and his “at any cost” approach to getting Broomhilda back seems a bit unlikely…I also think that his change through the course of the film could affect the relationship with Broomhilda.  Many felt DiCaprio was slighted for an Oscar nomination as Candie, but I feel Samuel L. Jackson’s role as his slimy loyal slave Abraham was overplayed.  The film also features a ton of cameos including James Remar, Don Johnson, Walton Goggins, Tom Wopat, Amber Tamblyn, Bruce Dern, M.C. Gainey, Jonah Hill, Zoe Bell, Robert Carradine, Ted Neeley, Michael Bowen, Ted Neeley, and Tom Savini plus an appearance by Django himself Frank Nero.

Django Unchained is a fun but gory movie that isn’t for everyone.  Tarantino has called it a “Southern” since it takes place in Alabama, but that is just him trying to be cool.  It is a modern Western that more resembles Tarantino’s fellow director Robert Rodriguez.  Check out Django Unchained, but realize it isn’t for the squeamish.  Tarantino followed-up Django Unchained with The Hateful Eight in 2015.

 

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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