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Django Unchained movie poster

Django Unchained: Movie Review


Genre: Drama, Western
Rated: R
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino

Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Don Johnson
Released by: The Weinstein Company

Running time: 165 minutes
Year: 2012

In Short: Writer-director Quentin Tarantino outdoes himself with this heady Western mix of comedy, drama, romance and everything in between.

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ONE WHACKED-OUT WESTERN

Tarantino's Homage to the Spaghetti Western

From the moment the music begins in the first scene of Quentin Tarantino's wonderfully wacky new Western, it's obvious you're in for a fun ride. For the tune known as "Django" immediately takes us back to another era of filmmaking, to the days when Hollywood churned out B Westerns that always began with a slightly corny signature song. But that's where the similarity ends, for this is no B movie. Instead, Tarantino has created a whole new and exciting take on the Spaghetti Western with "Django Unchained."

It's a heady mélange of revenge drama, hilarious comedy and burning romance, with a hefty dollop of Tarantino's trademark bloody gore thrown in, all set against the backdrop of the often brutal pre-Civil War American South.

Jamie Foxx is the perfect actor to play "Django" (pronounced "Jango," for as he repeatedly reminds us, "the 'D' is silent"), bringing just the right edge to the character. Django is a resentful slave who has been sold off from his plantation home and separated from his loving wife (Kerry Washington) in the process when we meet him, chained among a group of slaves being transported to what sounds like a very brutal new home. Happily, he soon meets up with Dr. King Schultz, a German dentist turned bounty hunter, who first buys him in a unique transaction and later joins forces with him to track down his missing wife.

Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio in Django Unchained Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained

As Schultz, Oscar winner Christoph Waltz creates a character that you just have to love. He's an elegant, intelligent and hilarious foreigner who makes Django into his very efficient partner and best friend, while running circles around the dumb Southerners he encounters. That is, until he takes on plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his butler (an almost unrecognizable Samuel L. Jackson), who turn out to be pretty clever themselves. Mayhem soon ensues in an amazing and unexpected climax that keeps you guessing right up to the end.

Tarantino's Western is quite an epic, clocking in at almost three hours long, but there's so much going on that the time just flies by. It's packed with wildly creative visuals, shocking surprises and terrific dialogue. But be warned: if you take offense at hearing the "n" word used repeatedly or at black slaves being viciously treated by their white masters, "Django Unchained" may not be the movie for you. It is, after all, a Tarantino flick and he's always been ready and willing to push the envelope way beyond what we've ever seen on screen before, ever since the days of "Reservoir Dogs" and "Pulp Fiction."

But if Tarantino's work is usually your cup of tea, then "Django Unchained" delivers — in a big way.

 

Reviewed by Alain Gayot

 



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