‘Django Unchained’ Movie Review – A Love/Hate Tale
It’s not that unprecedented to have a movie where its defining characteristics are equally loved by audiences as they are loathed. Movies have been, and always will be, dependent on taste. That’s what makes it so hard to produce the “perfect” movie. Quentin Tarantino, similarly, has always had his way: an unabashed and often satirical style moving from genre to genre. His genre this year, in Django Unchained, is spaghetti western, and all the things you may hate are the exact things I loved.
Set in the deep South a couple years before The Civil War, the title character, Django (Jamie Foxx), becomes a free slave to help a quirky bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz). Originally Django is used as an assistant to help track down three particular bounties. Once Dr. King Schultz (the bounty hunter) gets closer to Django, he decides to help him find his estranged wife (Kerry Washington). As they scour the South, they search for clues, leading them to “Candieland,” a huge plantation run by a powerful owner (Leonardo DiCaprio).
Django has a similar historical feel compared to Inglourious Basterds because they both take true times and put a new spin on it. In Basterds it was primarily about the Holocaust and the Nazis. Django is about slavery and the corrupt slaveowners.
Both are extremely violent, deeply sarcastic, and darkly comical.
There are bound to be people that say Django isn’t the movie we need right now. While I don’t think my personal beliefs on violence in the media are appropriate, it’s hard not to think about how people will respond to this over-the-top violence. Tarantino has never shied away from it, but sometimes he takes it to an extreme unlike almost anything you’ve seen. Both Kill Bill movies (personally, my least favorites) are a prime example of this. Often times, they’re so violent, they lose their “realism” and become oddly humorous.
Like I’ve said, Django isn’t serious. And maybe that’s what will save it from being despised by detractors. Besides the sarcastic violence, Tarnatino’s script is packed full of quips and verbal eccentricities. If dialogue and screenplay are what you like about him (just like me), then expect to enjoy what’s offered.
While Django blurs the genre lines, I find it to be much more of a dark comedy than anything else. It’s definitely a western, and it takes a lot of characteristics of the spaghetti sub-genre, even if it’s shot and set in America. But, it’s so dang humorous in so many ways that shouldn’t be comical. We shouldn’t be laughing at the Ku Klux Klan arguing over their masks, people being blown to smithereens by a bullet, or Samuel L. Jackson screaming the N-word. It’s essentially ironic humor, but it’s still unnerving. Unnerving doesn’t always mean it’s bad, though, and a lot of the movie is very funny.
Still, there were a few things that I didn’t absolutely love. For instance, the dark humor did grow tiring. This is probably because the movie dragged so long, and it depended on the same humor devices. There’s only so much we could take. Similarly, the movie had close to six spots where I felt it was going to end, and the runtime swelled to about 165 minutes.
The performances, though, were very comparable to Basterds. This, as you may know, is an extreme compliment. Waltz continues his streak of great supporting roles – this time being in the opposite moral direction – and Foxx nails his ambitious task. Both DiCaprio and Jackson are extremely funny, which is something DiCaprio hadn’t quite proved…even if Jackson proved it a long time ago.
Another Quentin Tarantino movie, another discordant result. The divisive aspects – from the violence to sarcasm and humor – aside, Django Unchained, at its least, continues his streak of great dialogue and character-building. At the most, it comes across as one of the darkest comedies of recent memory. Be cautious that this film isn’t for everyone, but then again, what movie is?
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