Monday, January 7, 2013

MOVIE REVIEW: "Django Unchained"

Django Unchained

The words "written and directed
by Quentin Tarantinosay it all
— excessive graphic violence,
oceans of blood and an air raid
of F-bombs married into a
story that's less than plausible.

For American history buffs with particular penchants for the Civil War era, Django Unchained (briefly) delivers a seemingly authentic and compelling tale of America in the Deep South, circa 1858. However, the three-hour saga turns totally "Tarantino" in short order. The story factor is compromised as the film quickly becomes a mere vehicle for a message of hate and revenge — a violent bloodbath / F-bomb shower of such epic proportions that it makes Reservoir Dogs seem as riveting as Mrs. Doubtfire. But that's exactly what audiences expect and demand from the iconic Tarantino, and he certainly exceeds customer expectations with Django Unchained.

Academy Award-winning actor Jamie Foxx delivers an impressive starring role performance as Django Freeman — a downtrodden slave who is purchased and freed by English / German-speaking bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz). Miraculously, Django is transformed overnight into a dashing, streetwise, hip hop-type cowboy. Together, the two men set out on a mission to rescue Django's wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) from wicked plantation / slave owner, Calvin J. Candie, played famously by Leonardo DiCaprio.

The film's all-star cast is impressive indeed, including cameo appearances by such acknowledged biggies as Bruce Dern and Jonah Hill. And in what could prove to be the launch of a bona fide career resurrection, Don Johnson as Spencer "Big Daddy" Bennett gave a solid, albeit brief performance. All 'round badass Samuel L. Jackson also deserves kudos for his performance as Calvin Candie's butler, Stephen.

But despite the marquee billing and dynamic performances of Foxx, DiCaprio and Jackson, it's Waltz who carries the film — delivering a truly Oscar-worthy performance — right up until his character is killed off prematurely, with approximately 30 minutes remaining on the clock. From there, Django Unchained relies completely on ridiculously gratuitous violence — killing and more killing, blood and more blood, and heaping portions of language so graphic that it would likely make Nicki Minaj squirm (as if that's even possible).

In sum, Django Unchained was entertaining — at least worth the $4 Friday matinee ticket price. But I sure was glad to be back in church on Sunday morning!

-Christopher Long
(January 2013)

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  1. Good review Christopher. Django Unchained is really weird, and I say this as someone who has grown very much accustomed to Tarantino's classic cinematic insanity. He outdoes himself once again in the odd category and it’s a whole bunch of overzealous fun to watch.

    1. Holy cow -- it's always an honor when the legendary "Dan the Man" stops by with words of praise and encouragement. I continue to enjoy your blog, and I'm amazed that you've already posted a review of "Gangster Squad." BRAVO, my friend!


      P.S. When are you gonna contribute a "Guest" review for THIS blog?