31 January 2013

Django Unchained review

Saw this in the theater this weekend, and loved it. This is easily Quentin Tarantino's best movie in at least 10 years. Tarantino's movies have gradually been degenerating into scenes of "cool talk" that was fun back in the Reservoir Dogs/Pulp Fiction days but since then have become tedious and pointless.

Django on the other hand is not only Tarantino's best work since Pulp Fiction, this is also a really damn good and well made movie. And most important it feels like real movie and not just like some "homage" or cool idea stretched into 2 hours of nonsense.
The story is quite simple but feels better thought out and makes a lot more sense than any of his recent movies. The villains are great in this one with Leo DiCaprio's "Calvin Candie" - an insane southern gentleman slave owner fascinated with France but knowing neither the French language or anything about its culture (lol) and Samuel L Jackson as an old slave who runs things at the Candie household. Both give a superb performance.
Then we have the two heroes, with Jamie Foxx's "Django" as the slave rescued by Christoph Waltz's "dr. King Schultz" bounty hunter - they have good character chemistry. Schultz talks funny, is polite in a dangerous way and shows Django what a bounty hunter does for a living. The interactions between these two and the reactions from people who see this unusual pairing - not least with the many hilarious scenes when Django is riding a horse which for some reason is the most shocking and amazing thing to a lot of people they meet.

There isn't a single scene with gimmicky "cool" dialogue just for the sake of talking, on the few occasions when characters talk in a clever fashion it is always leading up to something and thus feels like a natural part of the plot. What I feel to be different in this movie compared to the other recent Tarantino movies is that for one; the approach is less "B movie with a big budget" and it takes itself more seriously. The violence has been made a lot more realistic and gritty (even if it still is a bit OOT in some places). But the movie doesn't feel the need to be forcefully cool, it is in fact laugh out loud funny especially during the first 1/4th of the movie with a lot of humor being tied to situations with Waltz's wonderful acting performance as dr King Schultz.

I was actually worried that the movie would collapse under its own weight and not be able to maintain the same high quality to the end. It does grow more serious when the main plot kicks in and keeps a more somber tone from that point and until the end.

The only bad things that come to mind are that it starts to feel a bit long towards the end, I think it missed its own natural ending 15-20 minutes prior to the real ending. It could have been edited down a bit to make a better final product. There was also a scene that felt kinda lame at the very end, most likely because everything else had been so damn good. Still, this movie is really good - Christoph Waltz is fantastic as always, Leo DiCaprio is great and Jamie Foxx gives a solid performance and Samuel L Jackson gives a very different acting performance. I highly recommend it.


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