REVIEW: Django Unchained

"The 'D' is silent, hillbilly."

Bounty Hunter Dr. King Schultz is looking for a gang of outlaws worth a pretty penny, but seeing as how he doesn't know what they look like, he enlists the help of  Django, a slave he frees and who just so happens to know what these men look like.  A partnership is formed and Schultz agrees to help Django find and free his wife in return.

Quentin Tarantino has been talking about making a spaghetti western for nearly a decade now so it comes as no surprise to me that DJANGO UNCHAINED is entertaining as hell.  Tarantino's been rather sloppy lately in my opinion--this coming from a true QT fan--and although DJANGO feels rushed and uneven at times, this could possibly be due in part to the fact that QT has promised a five hour director's cut when this baby hits Blu-ray.  I know what you might be thinking, 'five hours, are you kidding me', but trust me, for a flick that runs around the three hour mark as it is, you'll find yourself wanting more by the time it all ends.  I guarantee it.

Jamie Foxx is brilliant as Django, that is, once he comes into his own.  The film does take a fair amount of presumptions and leaps of faith when it comes to his character though, mainly, how he goes from a rough around the edges slave, to a smooth talking killing machine that would make Billy The Kid nod his head in admiration.  This transformation reminds me of one in THE MASK OF ZORRO, though it felt like Anthony Hopkins schooled Banderas much more than Schultz did Django.  Perhaps this will make up a significant amount of that two hours we've been promised and I hope so, because as nit picky as it sounds, you can't help but notice.

The true magic of this movie comes from the rich characters, most notably Christoph Waltz as Schultz, Leonardo DiCaprio as Calvin Candie and Samuel L. Jackson as Stephen.  Waltz is such a well versed actor, I love the guy, he's a pure delight to watch.  I didn't care for INGLORIOUS BASTARDS, but I can't deny his awesomeness in the film.  I also didn't love (or loathe) GREEN HORNET, but for my money, Waltz's villain was what made the film watchable.  He and Candie have an epic battle of words that redefines the fact that Tarantino--for all his faults--is still a master when it comes to dialogue.  DiCaprio was phenomenal, the speech he gives about the brain was both intelligent and chilling.  Jackson's Stephen was a hoot, brought to life with sweet perfection.  It's a shame these characters don't get more screen time as they're the highlight of the adventure.

DJANGO UNCHAINED definitely makes it's own cattle brand mark on the wild west and takes quite a bite out of the race war of old.  I'll admit hearing the 'N' word so often is a bit jarring at times, but I suppose it's unavoidable given the circumstances.  Despite the uncomfortable feeling one gets when dealing with this subject matter, QT never really goes over the line, meaning we never get anything that we didn't expect to see given the nature of his films.  The one thing I didn't understand was how fleeting a moment the whole 'Brittle Brothers' subplot was.  This was the deal that sparks Django and Schultz's arrangement, but it's over before you get a chance to blink.  Don Johnson's character and involvement also felt rushed and ultimately pointless (not sure why Jonah Hill signed on for his meager role either).  These are small complaints however, and by no means take away from the film as a whole.  This was a brilliant ride into the sunset that should be enjoyed in the theater, and I personally can't wait for that five hour director's cut.



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