Django Unchained (2012) (R)

Quentin Tarantino has, arguably, one of the biggest, if not the largest following of supporters. He is one of the few directors whose name is recognized, even in the non-cinematic world. Tarantino-esque styles of writing and filming are often very recognizable. This director has made a masterpiece (Pulp Fiction) and seems to always be trying to achieve the high watermark he set for himself with his second feature. As with many of his previous films, "Django Unchained" fails to do so; but that doesn’t keep the movie from being entertaining.  Tarantino, at first, seemed to stick to action movies with more of a criminal twist, this is seen in both his first two features, but then his next largely acclaimed movie came more than a decade later and was vastly different: “Inglorious Basterds”. Then we expected more greatness from Tarantino and he serves up some well-done slavery for us to digest. As apposed to “Amistad” which took on the horns of slavery full on, Tarantino manages to somehow skip around the subject making it more of a revenge story. Jamie Foxx plays the title character, who does indeed come unchained and sports a ridiculous, yet somehow awesome looking bright blue coat. He is released by Christoph Waltz who won an Oscar for his previous collaboration with Tarantino in “Basterds”. Waltz plays Dr. King Schultz who is a dentist turned bounty hunter and needs Django’s help to identify a group of outlaws who have never been seen. For me, this seemed a little weak and for a few minutes I was questioning the reason why a dentist would drop his profession and then suddenly turn to bounty hunting. Conveniently, Schultz finds Django right at a crucial time and then we can start the plot for the movie.  Waltz is the best part of “Django”. He oozes confidence and charm and is simply marvelous. It is my hope that he wins the Oscar again this year because he deserves it. Foxx is good as Django and somehow got overlooked during awards season. I guess in a year with such amazing performances from actors, Django needed to be a little more eccentric as a character for anyone to notice. Django’s wife is a slave under the rule of Mr. Calvin Candie, an innocent yet malicious Leonardo DiCaprio. DiCaprio does a great job but is somewhat overshadowed by his colleagues, simply for the lines that he is given. I have come to respect Tarantino as one of the best screenwriters of the current age: recall the opening scene of “Reservoir Dogs”, the opening sequence of “Inglorious Basterds”, and the diner scene in “Pulp Fiction”. His scripts are distinguishable and you can tell that he wrote them, much like the visibility of Aaron Sorkin or Woody Allen’s scripts. But after “Basterds”, Tarantino takes a step in the wrong direction, at least when it comes to the script, and this is visible in DiCaprio’s character. He gives a bizarre speech about how black people are naturally submissive which is supposed to be threatening and full of tension, instead it just became annoying after a while. Quentin, you can do better. That being said, the rest of the script I was satisfied with, save one scene that I felt did nothing but detract from the plot. Django Unchained is very entertaining, Waltz makes a beautiful performance that leaves you wishing that he had more screen time. Also adding to the acting level are Kerry Washington and Samuel L. Jackson who are both very good in “Django”. The action and language are what most people are talking about with this film and both are quite excessive. The use of the “n-word” has many people upset, including fellow director, Spike Lee. In all honesty, it’s really not that bad. It felt like genuine use of the word and not purposely offensive. The action, however, is over the top, and in a good way. Gelatinous blood spatters everywhere, even in the first scene and only builds and builds until it explodes all over the sets near the end of the film. Sometimes it’s just comical and other times it’s a bit nauseating but all together it’s quite a lot of fun. I think that Tarantino should carefully consider what his next venture is going to be, I will be waiting anxiously.

Score: 3 stars out of 4

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