"Django Unchained" (2012)- Movie Review

Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino
Starring Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, and   Samuel L. Jackson

‘A bloody great time’

You don’t always see long movies that are thoroughly entertaining. Some have fantastic first hours but eventually drag down to the last minute. Others are ruined by slow pacing or a lack of events.

That is definitely not the case with Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained”. A witty, engaging, and cleverly directed movie, it does not have a dull moment. Despite running for almost 3 hours, it is easily one of the most entertaining films of the year. Yes, you obviously feel exhaustion by the length that could have been cut down, but how often do you come across a movie this entertaining?

To be honest, almost never. There are films that engage from start to finish, but only a few in quantity. “Django Unchained” pulls of the near impossible, and there are many strong reasons why it is one of the best movies of the year.

Not many directors have the flair or talent of mixing violence with comedy, but Quentin Tarantino is an exception. His trademark style of direction is created by the bloody violence and strong screenplays he uses for his movies. He is never afraid to go overboard with violence for his films.

With “Django Unchained”, Tarantino tackles a difficult subject matter that seems like one for a serious movie.  However, the befuddling fact is it isn’t. Though expressively portraying the treatment of slaves before the Civil War, this movie is far from serious or solemn in any way. It is instead a notably hilarious, quirky, and fun film that has slavery only as background material. In spite of how strange the concept sounds, Tarantino displays boldness with this film and true talent that does not come across in every director today.

Starring Jamie Foxx in the title role, “Django Unchained” is a western that tells the story of a slave named Django. Along with a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz), he decides to rescue his wife from a cruel Mississippi plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio).

One can easily see inspirations and influences for this western, but as a whole, it is original. I have never seen the concept done before, although there has been many revenge Westerns. This movie is a homage to the genre and you can easily tell that from the opening sequence to the credits. Its a Western film created in Quentin Tarantino’s unique style.

The direction is strong, the script is phenomenal, and the performances are fantastic. This is one of those movies that is extremely well-made.

Like I previously mentioned, Tarantino’s guidance and work on this movie is something to gape at. The way in which he mixes comedy and violence works very well, affecting this movie’s quality tremendously. It is not easy to take a serious subject matter and add humor to it, but Tarantino manages to do that. At times the movie is very solemn, especially during it’s torture scenes, but it is also quite funny in other scenes. The two moods blend in perfectly and this is all due to the direction.

This film is also admirably filmed with distinct cinematography. The landscapes and sets are beautiful and hard not to ponder on. From intense close-ups on characters to long, involving scenes, each shot enhances the movie’s quality giving it a dark atmosphere.

Never has any screenplay affected a movie this much. The script is comical, witty, smart, and highly profound. It makes the film even more entertaining than it already is and that is quite a feat, considering that there is not much action in this movie. When there is no violence, the dialogue and interactions between characters are fascinating to watch. Besides this, the characters are very well developed and larger than life.

It is hard not to marvel at the brilliant performances from the cast. Each person is at the top of their game, but the most astonishing performers are the four main actors.
Jamie Foxx delivers one of the best performances of his career as Django. He pulls of a distinct interpretation of what seems like a Clint Eastwood-inspired character. In some ways his performance reminded me of Eastwood’s acting in “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”, which is also a Western. Quiet and solemn at all times, Foxx really brings out the character and despite having almost no dialogue in the beginning of the movie, his expressions provide much more than one would expect.

Christoph Waltz is amazing in the role of a comical bounty hunter. Charming, likable, and very funny, Waltz proves that he is one of the seasoned actors working in Hollywood at the moment.

Leonardo DiCaprio is unforgettable as a maniacal and brutal slave-owner. This is the actor unlike you’ve ever seen him before: aggressive and demanding in one of his first villainous roles. He steals every scene he appears in with some of the best dialogue of the year. It is a performance worthy of awards and recognition, and after about 2 decades of acting, DiCaprio deserves everyone’s attention.

The last, most surprising and unexpected standout is Samuel L. Jackson. As a suspicious servant of a slave-owner, he is excellent, providing hilarious comical relief and persona.

I was rather taken aback when I heard that there would be rap music in this movie, but it surprisingly works very well. The soundtrack is fabulous. The opening song is reminiscent of music used for classical Westerns and though it may sound strange, the rap and R&B music actually takes the film to another level.

Although this movie is undeniably entertaining, its not without a flaw. I feel that the running time was slightly too extended, but that only affected the quality of the film by a small degree. I really enjoyed “Django Unchained” and though some scenes were gruesome to watch, it is still one of the must-see movies of the year. However, keep in mind the bloody violence and racist themes of this movie. This film will not please everyone, because of its heavy themes.

Fans of Quentin Tarantino’s movies will definitely adore “Django Unchained”, and so will anyone willing to watch it. It had my curiosity when I first saw it’s trailer, but now it has my full attention.

4.5/5 stars

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