Sunday, March 24, 2013

Django Unchained

Year: 2012
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L Jackson, Kerry Washington

Plot: A recently freed slave teams up with a bounty hunter to save the former's wife from a ruthless plantation owner.

Review: Quentin Tarantino. There's no other director like him. There are probably aspiring directors out there who try aping guys like Spielberg, McTiernan and Nolan, but no one makes movies like Quentin. He's just unique in his own way. I've always believed Tarantino makes movies the way a movie fanboy would, and it still shows.

Tarantino's latest feature, Django Unchained is part western, part pre-Civil War story about vengeance and the all familiar battle between good men and disgusting villains. Tarantino's villains are especially evil from the way he writes them and presents them on screen, and is probably so just so that we can hate them easily and cheer when they meet their end, in true Tarantino-esque brutal style. In this case, we have the deliciously cruel Calvin Candie, a plantation owner who has vile ways of punishing his slaves, as well as Stephen, his senior house slave who is loyal to him.

But Tarantino's films aren't just about bad guys and violence, it's also about other things, in this case the friendship between the protagonists. Django the slave and Dr King Schultz, the bounty hunter who freed him are on a mission, both men driven by different reasons and thus different approaches, but they never lose sight of what they must do. Their bond  with each other is also a strong element of the film.

I had my doubts on whether Jamie Foxx could play a black cowboy but he owns the role indeed. He has the right amount of intensity required to play Django. Christoph Waltz approaches the role of Schultz the same way he did with Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds, but it is still effective as it makes him extremely likable. Leonardo DiCaprio does a splendid job as Calvin Candie, it was truly impressive as I didn't think he was capable of being so despicable. Samuel L Jackson goes over the top quite a bit as Stephen, and even puts on some makeup to complete the look, but is effective nonetheless.

Now, the fact that it's a Tarantino film means there will be long drawn out sequences, excessive dialogue and over the top violence. They're all here and mostly done well. But I felt that some of it was just too much. Having loads of blood fly all over the place every time a bullet connects with flesh was laughable, though I can see that that's the point Tarantino is trying to make about film violence. But the film could have been shortened by about 15 to 20 minutes if they edited the last sequence, which I thought was just an excuse to show more violence. Don't get me wrong, I love on screen violence, I just feel that it ought to be there for good reasons, not flimsy ones.

But there's no denying that this is one awesome western, and an awesome Tarantino film. Recommended. (4/5)

P.S.: The soundtrack is awesome by the way.

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