Writer/director Quentin Tarantino returns to the big screen with his unique and specific style in Django Unchained, the story of a free slave named Django who teams up with a bounty hunter to save his slave wife from a Mississippi cotton plantation.
I feel like there are a lot of similarities between Tarantino and writer/director Wes Anderson. Both are very good at creating worlds that are 99% exactly like the real one, but have a quirky, different way of portraying the true nature of people and the world. Their characters are always a little abnormal at first glance, but have their own special way of showing their and our true natures.
Anyways, the world we have here in Django Unchained is set just before the Civil War in the southern United States, and the world is rude and crude, filled with racism, slavery, and hatred. It is this world that creates the justifiably vengeful former slave Django, played by the ripped and whipped Jamie Foxx, and Christoph Waltz as Dr. King Schultz, who hates slavery and criminals so much that he now earns his money and spends his time hunting down outlaws and slave owners for reward. Together, they plot to rescue Django’s wife, who was sold to one of the biggest slave plantations in Mississippi, named Candie-land, while collecting some bounties along the way.
Like I said before, the film is classic Tarantino. No one else does the kind of gory violence like he does, and it’s in full effect here with blood splattering and squirting high and far with every bullet that finds its mark. If you are not accustomed to this kind of action, then let me warn you that some of the stuff in this film is pretty shocking. It is nothing that will haunt your dreams, but will definitely cause some gasps and head turns. All of the technical productions are familiar, with the text, rapid zoom-ins, close-ups during dialogue, extended dialogue scenes, etc. A lot of recognizable filming trademarks, which is what we should all expect by now.
The characters created are some of my favorite that Tarantino has done, and that might be because unlike his last and some previous films, this story is centered around one man’s journey, and the two main characters get a lot of screen time. Waltz’s Schultz is very similar to his highly acclaimed performance in the last Tarantino film, Col. Hans Landa in Inglorious Bastards, in that he is very eccentric and unusual in his mannerisms and behavior, although he looks like an ordinary man. He has the better-than-you mentality that is just hilarious and interesting and different. Foxx plays a great angry, cheeky, and spiteful hero who is simple and straightforward and, frankly, badass. And probably the most entertaining performance is Leonardo DiCaprio‘s arrogant, ignorant slave owner Calvin Candie, who has a particular interest in slave fighting. The film also features Samuel L. Jackson as Candie’s house-head servant Stephen.
A lot of talk surrounding this movie has been controversial with the film’s repeated use of the word nigger [probably over 50 times]. Personally, I think that the prejudice and harshness of the word is long outdated and irrelevant, and that it is only really offensive to sensitive non-black folk. The use of that particular word paired with the extreme violence that is sometimes pretty damn gruesome has and will continue to upset some viewers, but you have to remember that this is a form of art, it’s just a movie, and it’s subjective and made to entertain. There is no political statement trying to be made, it is just being accurate to the times in which it is set. If they used any censoring, the film would have severely suffered, and I had to problem with the content.
3.5/4 – Tarantino explodes [literally] back to the big screen with a hugely entertaining, gritty, violent, and controversial western drama that may offend some, but will enthrall many.