I was lucky enough to see and advanced press screening of this film a few weeks ago. If you even remotely like Tarantino or westerns, this is your film. I have been to many of these, and never have I witnessed actual film critics not only applaude multiple scenes with the rest of the crowd, but physically stand up and applaud too.
This film is completely over the top in all of the best ways. If I had to compare the tone to any other Tarantino film it would be that of Kill Bill, but in a western setting. At this point, you know what you're getting with one of his films. He is the post-modern king, and with it comes multiple references to classic westerns, including the original Django. Fantastic screenwriting is only further enhanced by some of the best acting performances you will see. As much as I believe Leonardo DiCaprio stole the show, Christopher Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson, and even Jamie Fox-- an actor I've never cared for--gave some, if not their best performances to date.
Some of the reviews I read stated the film was "too long" and that Tarantino's cameo was "unnecessary". Both of these comments severely aggravated me. Saying this film is too long is like stating that Pulp Fiction was as well, and that the scenes between Jackson and Travolta in it were pointless, which of course couldn't be farther then the truth. He gives Django a chance to breathe, which creates moments where you know something is going to happen, you just don't know when. It keeps you on the edge of your seat. As for his cameo, I have to say it is hands down the greatest cameo of all time, and any fan of his will get an absolute kick out of it. Even the press did.
My only gripe with the film itself is the main woman, Fox's wife in the film. It wasn't that Kerry Washington was bad by any means, I would of just liked a little more screen time dealing with her character, like Mélanie Laurent in Inglourious Basterds. Other than that, this film is pure perfection and managed to do what few films can do these days--exceed my expectation. By now you should understand the type of film this is and is going to be. It is simply a FUN film to watch, and you will enjoy yourself. The only bad part about seeing it 3 weeks early is needing to wait to see it again. If the world doesn't end, go see it, I could not recommend it enough.
This is a great movie, I don't think its his best but has Tarantino ever made a bad movie...No! Waltz ijjust steals every scene. He's just a genius. DiCaprio was very good, especially seeing him stretch out and do something very different. Sam Jackson was someone to marvel. Now to Foxx, I don't think he was bad in the movie but he wasn't great. I do think his subdued performance was a nice touch.
I'm sorry I have to honestly disagree with the ratings on this movie. Tarantino goes above and beyond the call with his Gore and Blood on this one. And none of it adds to the movie in any constructive way. The overal story is fair, bounty hunters, black slavery in the south. The acting is really donw well, especially Leonardo (but that's to be expected from him) Jamie Foxx does an ok job as well, not my number one pick for a tough guy. But the over the top gore is just terrible. After the first 30 minutes I felt myself getting bored and fighting to watch to the end. Definitely not a purchase
It's been almost 24 hours since I saw Quentin Tarantino's latest effort, and I still have mixed feelings. The first thing that you should know is that he is probably my favorite director. While his movies don't quite reach the heights of David Lynch's Mulholland Dr., he is responsible for more movies in my Top 20 than any other director. His movies have a unique feel and I love spending time in his worlds.
If you have somehow never seen a Tarantino movie, I should mention that they are not for everyone. All feature a significant amount of violence, although the majority of the situations are so ludicrous that you aren't meant to take things seriously. I would say that every Tarantino movie is, at heart, a comedy, but his brand of comedy is darker than most. It doesn't matter whether you usually don't like war, Westerns, crime, or kung fu movies, because Tarantino creates a genre of his own. Like Monty Python, the humor is extremely silly, but works because of its underlying intelligence.
It's necessary for you to understand the love and respect I have for Tarantino's work in order to appreciate the significance of my eventual rating.
Let's get to Django Unchained.
Settings include Texas, Mississippi, and Tennessee, and the opening scene takes place in 1858 (two years before the Civil War). It's clear from the start that this isn't going to be a conventional story. Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) is a bounty hunter posing as a dentist. We see him free Django (Jamie Foxx) from slavers, while giving the remaining captives their freedom and the ability to decide their own fate. Schultz enters into an agreement with Django, and the two spend the remainder of the year together as bounty hunters. Schultz ultimately discovers that Django is seeking his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), and decides to help him. That involves searching every plantation until they find her.
The plot is of little consequence in Django Unchained. Like every other Tarantino movie, this is more about style. If you are looking for plot holes or deep meaning, you have chosen the wrong director. I know that many people will be offended by the subject matter, the violence, and the foul language, but I'm almost certain that Tarantino merely intends to entertain and provide as much fun as possible along the way. I obviously detest the thought of slavery, and people being whipped or murdered, but it wasn't really on my mind as I watched the movie. The tongue-in-cheek tone allowed me to separate the hideous events from any semblance of reality.
The main reason I like Tarantino's work so much is because it is creative, and contains some of the best dialogue you'll ever hear. Those elements are present in Django Unchained, and some scenes and conversations work wonderfully. The bulk of the good scenes involve Christoph Waltz, who is essentially playing Hans Landa. Expect flowery dialogue delivered in a very deliberate way. He can talk his way out of almost any situation and he's full of surprises. If you can't imagine a scene involving the Ku Klux Klan being funny, Tarantino somehow pulls it off.
Foxx does a reasonable job as Django, but I can't help thinking what Will Smith might have done with the role. DiCaprio plays Calvin Candie, who owns a plantation and seemingly has no scruples whatsoever. He's probably the best character in the movie with the exception of Schultz. It's always good to see Samuel L. Jackson working with Tarantino, and his performance as Stephen was strong. He plays a complicated character who is difficult to like.
Despite all the familiar elements, Django Unchained often struggles to reach the level of Tarantino's best movies. Tarantino is a master at selecting the right music for a particular scene, but he misses the mark this time. There's nothing to match Bang Bang (Kill Bill), Across 110th Street (Jackie Brown), Cat People (Inglourious Basterds), Stuck in the Middle (Reservoir Dogs), or Dick Dale's Misirlou (Pulp Fiction). I can't think of any meaningful music from Django Unchained, despite the inevitable inclusion of something from Ennio Morricone.
I don't have a thorough understanding of the role of an editor, but I have to wonder how much the absence of Sally Menke hurt the movie. It's the first time Tarantino has made a movie without her, and at 165 minutes, Django Unchained is his longest to date. Would Menke have turned it into a more cohesive story?
I cared about Butch Coolidge, Jackie Brown, The Bride, and Shosanna Dreyfus, but I was never really invested in Django's quest to find his wife. Perhaps it would have worked better if I had been shown something of their history together?
Do you remember the opening scene from Inglourious Basterds in which Hans Landa talks to a French farmer? That's one of the best scenes that Tarantino has ever written and it works because he builds tension throughout. In Django Unchained, the tension is less intense and some of the scenes feel rushed and end prematurely. This is especially true in a scene with DiCaprio, Foxx and Waltz near the end of the movie. In fact, the ending as a whole seems entirely too predictable for something penned by Tarantino.
Tarantino is still playful, clever, creative, funny, and unpredictable, for the most part, but something is slightly off this time. I would say that Django Unchained is his second-weakest film behind Death Proof, but it still might end up as my favorite from 2012 when I have seen it a few times. If you are a Tarantino fan, it's a must-see and an eventual must-own, but it's a bit of a mess if I am honest.
Maybe I went in expecting too much, but this is nowhere near as good as other Tarantino films. It was overlong and forcefully bombastic. Christopher Waltz and DiCaprio are excellent, but Jamie Foxx just never feels right for the part. The dark and comic violence was great, and I loved the retro style filming, but to me the film ends after Waltz and DiCaprio succumb to their fate. Waltz deserves all the praise in the world because he really holds the picture on his own until DiCaprio joins him.
I went in expecting another Inglorious Basterds which was a mistake I guess. Some parts reminded me of that film, such as the Candyland scenes where I was completely immersed in the dialogue and story, whereas other parts I just wanted it to be over so I could leave.
For Quentin Tarantino, it really looks like Inglorious Basterds was his peak. It had a mixture of marutity and tongue-in-cheek playfulness that is completely absent here. He trades away the tension and suspense for random explosions, infinite squibs and occasionally flat dialogue. You never feel like Django fully understands what he's doing and is just going with the flow. There were way too many scenes that were just bloated and useless. The writing, except for a few scenes, is mostly lifeless and crass, used to shock instead of immerse.
This is probably my least favorite film of his, and certainly cannot hold a candle to Inglorious Basterds. I don't know if he did this knowingly, but it really felt like he regressed and just went all-out with this movie instead of carefully plotting it. If that's what he was going for, then I'll agree that I had a good time. If he was trying to top Inglorious Basterds, then something must have gone very wrong, because it would never hold a candle to it or many of Tarantino's past films.