Review: Django Unchained

Django Unchained (2012)
165 minutes
Rated – R
Directed by Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio

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Grade: B

This is a Quentin Tarantino film and just from that you should know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. It’s violent and profane with a dark sense of humor and runs a bit too long. Almost like what I wrote about in my Les Misérables review, if you don’t like Quentin Tarantino films then you really have no business watching Django Unchained, because his brand of films is directed towards himself and those people who enjoy the same kind of entertainment as he. There certainly isn’t anything wrong with making films for yourself, especially when it’s done in such a masterful way throughout the years like Tarantino has.

Django Unchained is an oddball, spaghetti Western with a revenge plot. Dr. King Schultz (Waltz) buys Django (Foxx) to help him track down three brothers who have a bounty on them. Shultz is a bounty hunter and soon creates a friendship with Django after he helps him track down the brothers. It turns out that Django has quite a shot and the two become the best bounty hunters in the area. The first hour has plenty of comedy focused mainly how the citizens react when they see a black man riding a horse alongside Dr. Schultz.

Their friendship reveals that Django’s wife is in Mississippi at Candieland, owned by Calvin Candie (DiCaprio), a wealthy and powerful man with one of the largest cotton plantations and a love for slave fights. Schultz and Django devise a plan to rescue Django’s wife from Candieland.

Sure, there are moments when Tarantino goes over-the-top with violence, such as a scene where dogs tear apart a slave, but that’s just to prove his point. Unfortunately, I’m not exactly sure what his point is other than exaggerating that slavery is bad. In addition, the plot (although a good half-hour longer than needed) is very straight-forward and predictable for a Tarantino film. But for everything that I’ve said about Django Unchained, it’s still a highly entertaining film and a very good Hollywood blockbuster.

As for the performances, Jamie Foxx gives a strong one as Django, the conflicted slave that keeps his identity hidden for most of the film. Waltz is just as charismatic and appealing here as he was in his Oscar-winning performance in Inglourious Basterds. And as for Leonardo DiCaprio, he played the role that must’ve been the most fun to play out of the entire cast. Flamboyantly racist, DiCaprio never takes his character too seriously and enjoyed playing the short-tempered Candie.

Don’t get me wrong, Django Unchained is a good movie, it’s just not great. It’s closer to the stylish, fun Grindhouse type of film than Tarantino’s great films like Pulp Fiction and even Inglourious Basterds. If you don’t take this movie serious, it’s arguably the most fun you will have at the movies this year.

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