Django Unchained (2012): A misfit buddy-cop comedy set in the slave era of the south brings together Django (Jamie Foxx) and Dr. King Schultz (Christopher Waltz) as bounty hunters set out to find Django's wife at Candyland, where they meet the dangerous and cunning Calvin Candy. (Leonardo DiCaprio)
This is a great movie. Director Quentin Tarantino has been honing his skills over the years with each his movies, and each one is a bit better than the last. Now is this the best Tarantino movie? I say yes. But that's just me, as Inglourious Basterds definitely deserves to be talked about in that discussion. I mean the story is fantastic. It definitely takes its story matter very seriously and really nails the gruesome horror of slavery. Here's what the real movie critics have complained about with Tarantino movies in the past that I agree with 100%: he's a good example of a director who's in love with his own writing. The result? Conversations throughout his movies go on so much longer than they should, to the point that I almost want to just skip ahead to the end of it. This totally throws off the pacing of the movie. Seriously, the opening conversation of Pulp Fiction and Inglourious Basterds are textbook examples of this. I know that he's building suspense and tension prolonging the scene but on the flipside watching Waltz drink a glass of milk has nothing to do with the actual story. You could easily cut out 5 minutes in both of these and still have a lot of tension build up over the course of the scene. I think there's a joke somewhere that there's at least a movie and a half of all the extra dialogue throughout Tarantino movies.
Anyway the pacing of this one is far better than anything Tarantino has done, until we get to Candyland. Once we arrive there the pacing screeches to a sudden halt. But there is a great tradeoff here. A PHENOMENAL tradeoff that other Tarantino movies did not have: Leonardo DiCaprio. Oh man is he terrifying as Calvin Candy. He doesn't show up until well into the second act of the film, and because of these slower sequences he is really given a chance to flesh out his character. One of the great impromptu moments of recent memory happens here, as I'm sure everyone knows, where DiCaprio hurt his hand in the middle of a scene, and, rather than cutting, he continues in character with the scene and delivers one of the most memorable moments of the film. Poor Kerry Washington. So I didn't really care that the pacing was basically stopped in the Candyland sequence because DiCaprio made it interesting. The other actors here are great as well. Christopher Waltz is charming and charismatic, playing a character as ruthless as his character in Inglourious Basterds but far more likable. Jamie Foxx is good as well, though he does get a little outplayed by DiCaprio and Waltz. They are the true stars of the movie. Finally this is a Tarantino film! What does that mean? Lots and lots of blood and death. Like, tons. As I said this movie does not dance around its setting as Basterds did, rather it shows the gruesome horror of slavery head on, as well as the idiocy of southerners during that time. The KKK scene is one of the funniest moments of movie (with a great cameo from Jonah Hill) and really shows just how stupid the concept and logic of that group was. But because of this, it can be hard to watch at times. But that's the point, right?
The ending of this movie is the only thing I have a real problem with, as it turns into a massive and totally unrealistic bloodbath and fulfills the norm of a Tarantino movie, but that's not a major complaint to have in this movie's 165 minute runtime. Ultimately if you think you can handle the blood and gore, you should check it out if you haven't already.
The Critique: a funny and serious take on the buddy-cop comedy set in the mid 1800s. Tarantino at his best.
The Recommendation: if you don't like the sight of blood, stay away. But if you like Tarantino or mid-1800s slavery movies, it's a must-see.
The Verdict: 8/5/10 somewhere between great and awesome.
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