04 January 2013

Django Unchained


Quentin Tarantino has a fan base.  Their loyalty can be questioned, cough**Death Proof**cough, but for the most part, he has a solid fan base.  He is a film aficionado who likes to make movies for movie lovers.  His last few films have been “meta films.”  Meaning, they have drawn from all the genre tropes to make an “ultimate” genre film.  Kill Bill Vol.1 and Kill Bill Vol. 2 started this kick of his.  He took your typical samurai, martial arts, kung-fu film, and dissected it, and spun it on its head.  They were amazing fun films.  Next up, he took on war films with Inglourious Basterds.  Again, it was a great film.  This time around, Tarantino tackled one of my favorite genres, the western.

Django Unchained follows the adventures of Dr. King Schultz (Chistoph Waltz) and his freed slave Django (Jamie Foxx).  Schultz buys Django at the start of the film because Django knows what the wanted Brittle brothers look like, and Schultz is a dentist turned bounty hunter.  They make a deal:  if Django helps Schultz find the Brittle brothers, Schultz will set him free.

While on the search for the three brothers, Django and Schultz become friends, and Django tells of his missing wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington).  After catching up with and cashing in on the Brittles, a new deal is struck between our two protagonists.  If Django is willing to stay on with Schultz, he will be paid a percentage of the bounties collected over the winter.  After the snow melts, they will head south to find Broomhilda and free her, too.

The bounty hunters find themselves at Candie Land, a feared plantation owned by Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).  He is into slave fighting, and Schultz and Django pose as buyers for a fighter.  The house slave Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson) catches onto the duos real intentions leading to a dispute between the factions in the house.

Now, I cut a lot out and trimmed the plot down for space purposes.  I could have gone on and on, but for the sake of time, I will leave it at that.  Trust me, there is a lot more in play here.  Where Django Unchained excels is in the directing and the acting by everyone involved.  Samuel L. Jackson brings a necessary complexity to his house slave character.  Jami Foxx is very charismatic as Django.  Leo is spectacular as the sadistic slave owner.  Christoph Waltz is charming again, but I do not see another golden statue for him this time around.

Tarantino has developed a complex layered story, but as per his usual, he has few extra scenes.  He has also assembled a great cast with so many actors in small to less than small roles, which it would drag this review on for too long.  But, here is a short list anyway: Don Johnson, Jonah Hill, M.C. Gainey, Walton Goggins and Tom Wopat.  And as is his norm, Tarantino built a great soundtrack and score to encompass his story.

So, the big question is, Is Django Unchained worth your time and money?  I would say absolutely.  I had the pleasure of watching this in the recently renovated AMC West Olive 16 theater.  If you are 21 or over, this is an experience you should give a try.  It is not cheap, but it is different.  They have a full kitchen and bar.  I loved seeing this movie this way, as it is long and really gave me the time to enjoy my experience, and the leather recliner.

RATING: 8/10

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