Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Movie Review: "Django Unchained"

I have never been a Quentin Tarantino fan, so to say that I enjoyed Django Unchained is a huge testament to the film itself.  While Django is not without its flaws, it's an enjoyable film that actually has a little more emotional weight than your typical Tarantino flick.

In the film, Jamie Foxx portrays Django, a Southern slave in 1858, who is freed by a German bounty hunter, Dr. King Schultz, played with charismatic relish by Christoph Waltz.  The two become an unlikely dynamic duo, as they kill bad men for rewards.  Meanwhile, Schultz helps Django find his wife who was sold to a vile plantation owner, Calvin J. Candie, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, with more boyish enthusiasm than I've seen from him in years.

The performances are top notch and the script does a good job of making these characters likable, for the most part.  The two best characters are Candie and Schultz, primarily because they are the most charismatic, but Schultz also turns out to be the most sympathetic and human, in terms of emotional response, than most other characters.  The big thing with the script is it never makes Django likable.  While I'm rooting for his character because of all the injustices that have separated him and his wife, I don't like Django as a person, especially by the end of the film where he seems to be more interested in exacting revenge, than in love, even after he's already saved his wife.  Another misstep in writer/director Tarantino's script, is that he kills off the two most charismatic characters thirty minutes before the end, making the final act feel like a chore to get through.  Not to mention, is there really this much need for blood and guts spewing everywhere?  The amount of gore was over-the-top, even for the genre that Tarantino is mimicking here.

Even through all this, Django Unchained does have its moments, in particular the hilarious scene with an early version of the KKK.  As well, from a technical standpoint, this is one of the more masterful films of the year.  The cinematography is immaculate, with all of the Spaghetti Western zooms Tarantino employs executed to perfection, never losing focus.  As well, this is quite possibly the best edited film of 2012.  Is all of this enough to warrant a second viewing?  No, but I don't regret seeing the film.  I love Christoph Waltz and his character Dr. King Schultz, and I rather enjoyed Leonardo DiCaprio getting to have a little bit of fun as Candie.

I give Django Unchained a C+

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