Movie Review: Django Unchained [2012]

Django Unchained [2012]

Django Unchained [2012]
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Writer: Quentin Tarantino
Genre: Action/Drama/Western
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson
Running Time: 165 minutes

Django Unchained is an homage to many genres — the Spaghetti Western, Blaxploitation, revenge flicks — but at its core it is a Quentin Tarantino film. And no one makes movies like QT.

Set in 1858, three years before the Civil War, the film tells the story of a slave named Django (Jamie Foxx) — the “D” is silent. While being transported across the vast state of Texas with a group of other slaves, Django becomes a free man after they run into Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), a German bounty hunter. Schultz hires Django to aid him in finding and identifying the Brittle brothers, a trio of wanted fugitives. Their partnership works out rather well, and they end up working together throughout the winter, raking in good money by collecting bounties.

Django Unchained [2012]

We learn that Django had been sold away from his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), shortly before meeting Dr. Schultz. After their successful season of bounty hunting, the two men discover that Broomhilda is now the property of Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), a very wealthy businessman known for his brutal “Candie Land” plantation. With a target now in sight, the unlikely duo head to Mississippi to bring her back alive.

If you are familiar with Tarantino at all, you will have a good idea of what to expect here. Violence is plentiful, the soundtrack is eclectic, and there are winks/homages to countless other films (even Franco Nero, the star of the 1966 film, Django, has a small role here). The man has no fear when it comes to directing, and he does things his own way. Want to include a bass-heavy Rick Ross song while Django walks across the screen? Sure, why the hell not? Some may question the use of modern rap during an 1850s film, but somehow it works surprisingly well. Tarantino’s soundtracks have always been favorites of mine, and Django Unchained does not disappoint in this regard.

Django Unchained [2012]

Of course, there has been a great amount of controversy with the film, most of which stems from its gratuitous usage of the “n-word” (most notably from Spike Lee, who refuses to even watch it). At times, it is uncomfortable watching all of these white actors rattling off racial slurs, but we must remember that this was what it was like during that time period. This isn’t a light subject matter, and quite frankly it would have been a mistake to stray away from this language.

It’s somewhat ironic that in a film named Django Unchained about a character named Django, that the actor portraying him has been receiving the fewest accolades. That’s unfortunate because Jamie Foxx really does a stellar job here. Django comes a long way during the film, and much of the character’s growth can be attributed to Foxx. Of course, it’s easy to be overshadowed when the rest of the cast is as good as it is. Christoph Waltz is the perfect complement to Django’s fiery character, and the two actors play off each other quite well.

Django Unchained [2012]

Leonardo DiCaprio is just as fantastic as the brutal, yet oddly charismatic, plantation owner. It is Samuel L. Jackson, however, who steals every scene he is in as Candie’s loyal head slave, Stephen. Jackson stated that he wanted to make Stephen the most hated black character in the history of cinema, and he makes a damn good case for that title. And, of course, because this is a Tarantino flick, there are a ridiculous amount of noteworthy cameos, with everyone from Bruce Dern, Walton Goggins, James Parks, Jonah Hill and even QT himself making an appearance.

Even with its lengthy running time (nearly three hours!), Django Unchained never fails to entertain. Once again, Quentin Tarantino has proven to be a master at recreating history as only he can.


41 thoughts on “Movie Review: Django Unchained [2012]

  1. ruth says:

    Since I was surprised how much I ended up enjoying Inglourious Basterds, I will definitely rent this one. Seems like the Best Picture noms this year have more than their share of controversies. Curious to see Leo’s deranged performance here, and Christoph, since he wowed me so much as Landa.

  2. Chris says:

    Glad you loved Tarantino’s latest. I haven’t seen the film yet, but see you enjoyed the soundtrack. Any favorites so far? Mine are: John Legend – Who Did That to You , & Jim Croce – I Got A Name

    • Eric says:

      Not sure I have a favorite yet, but those two you mentioned are used perfectly in the film. Also loved the “Django” theme, makes me want to give the 1966 film a watch, too.

  3. Fogs' Movie Reviews says:

    You have a good point about Foxx not receiving a lot of credit for Django, but the thing is it’s the least flashy role. Does he do a great job? Yeah. But basically he’s just the bad ass out for revenge, and we’ve seen that character before. Schultz and Candie felt at least like new ground.

    Glad you’re on board with this one though, I really dug it too. Had to include it in my top ten, for sure!

    • Eric says:

      True, true. I just find it ironic that in a film about slavery, everyone is focusing on the performances by the white actors. Foxx and Jackson were pretty damn good as well.

  4. sanclementejedi says:

    Nice write up Eric, one of my favorites this year. Tarantino and the whole cast really brought their A game to this one. Spike Lee has got his head up his ass as far as I am concerned.

  5. The Blog of Big Ideas says:

    I completely agree with most of what you say here Eric. Django Unchained is quite the trip and I wouldn’t expect anything else from Mr. Tarantino. I, for one, can’t wait to write my thoughts on it after seeing it just yesterday (finally!). It may not end up being my favorite film from 2012, but I think it’s safe to say it’ll remain in the top 10.

    PS. I am there with you when it comes to Samuel L. Jackson who was absolutely hilarious and creepy and dreadful in this short but juicy role. He probably owes Tarantino the best two roles of his long career. If you ask me this was a snub from the Academy who has never really been fond of the actor.

    • Eric @ The Warning Sign says:

      And here I was thinking that I was the last blogger to see this film.. 😀

      Glad to hear you enjoyed Django so much. Man, wasn’t Jackson’s character such an evil bastard? I think he was even more despicable than Calvin Candie, heh. I would have been very happy to see him get an Oscar nod, but yeah, once again he gets no love. 😦

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