January 2, 2013
By Jacob Albano
Django Unchained is the latest film by writer and director Quentin Tarantino. It is a fictional story set in the American South in 1858, three years before the start of the Civil War and it stars Jamie Foxx as the lead character. Foxx plays a slave who was recently separated from his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) but was unexpectedly rescued while in transport by a German bounty hunter, Dr. King Shultz (Christoph Waltz). Shultz needed Django to identify three brothers with bounties that he is hunting and, in the process, he teaches Django the trade of bounty hunting. The two strike a deal in which Django assists Shultz with bounty hunting for a winter with the promise that Shultz helps him locate Broomhilda in the spring. Eventually, the two learn that Broomhilda is on the plantation of Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), the cruel and charismatic owner of the massive plantation known as “Candie Land”.
Say what you will about Tarantino and his use of gratuitous violence (of which this has plenty), you can’t take away the fact that he makes excellent movies with excellent dialogue. And this movie is no exception, with plenty of deep dialogue, especially during the extended scenes at Candie Land when Shultz and Django are attempting to execute an intricate plan to rescue Broomhilda. These scenes include another dynamic character in Candie’s elderly “head slave” Stephen, played by Tarrantino-movie-staple Samuel L. Jackson. Stephen is every bit as racist as his white entourage and turns out to be exceptionally bright in unraveling the escape plan.
The dialogue was enough to carry the film on its own (which makes the excessive violence that much more regrettable), and Waltz definitely stole the show with his acting, as he had in Tarrantino’s previous film Inglorious Bastards. While Foxx did an okay job, he was overshadowed by the rest of this group of excellent actors, including DiCaprio. Foxx delivered his lines but didn’t really add anything to them nor did he do anything exceptional with his material and would have come out bland and boring without the help of this all-star cast. Samuel L. Jackson, while playing the opposite of his typical “outlaw” role, pulled off his character very well, using the exaggerated age and cocky attitude expertly.
The way the movie was filmed was excellent, it even featured a 70s style film grain scene, which gives it a vintage feel. With top notch cinematography, the movie looks just absolutely beautiful and the way certain scenes were done was amazing, with different styles of camera movements. The soundtrack of this film is also excellent, with a mixture of pop, folk, and hip hop that somehow is not out of place in the mid-ninteeth century scenes.
So all in all, Django Unchained is another very good film by Quentin Tarantino, with only a few real complaints that stop it shy of being “great” (like Inglorious Bastards). It still outscores most movies that are being produced today. Something I can respect about Tarantino is he doesn’t seem to be someone who is controlled by the studio system. He just does his own movies, his way, and they usually come out great.