The newest and maybe the bloodiest Tarantino film yet, Django Unchained is an entertaining welcome back party for one of the cinema’s greatest film makers. Set in the Deep South where slavery is just a way of life, Django Unchained follows, well, Django who is saved by a mysterious Dentist who helps him to try and find his long lost wife. This plot leads to a lot of shooting and name-calling but it is Tarantino’s “history” that makes the movie more than just a revenge film. Like Inglorious Bastards, Django is all about remolding the history books, as it is the second “historical fantasy” film that Tarantino has made. Not as polished as Inglorious, Django Unchained is still a Tarantino film which means it is one of the more unique and fun films you’re likely to see all year.
What I have always loved about Tarantino is how he is able to mix his own creativity with the influences of the films/genres that he has loved the most. Each film of his is essentially a throwback movie to other movies while also being so completely different than anything you have ever seen before. Django Unchained is no different as it contains all the nostalgic elements of Leone’s spaghetti westerns while containing everything you love about Tarantino (blood, corky dialogue). Django though does suffer from not being as “efficient” as Tarantino’s other movies as the film sort of drags towards the end. Running at close to three hours, Django is probably the only Tarantino film that I feel should be shorter. This maybe the consequence of the changing tone of the film (super fast at the beginning, super slow at the end) but nevertheless Django could of used a 30 minute cut. Tarantino’s other movies just moved along more gracefully and captivated me more from start to finish. Django will hold your attention but towards the end the film starts to feel more like work then a night at the movies.
With any Tarantino film you have a cast that contains not a single bad performance. Tarantino is good at not only blowing stuff up but also in getting the best from his actors. The highlight (unsurprisingly) is Leonardo DiCaprio who shines in his first Tarantino affair. His performance is a great mix of both malice and charm that will leave you laughing one minute then fill you with pure rage the next. This is the perfect supporting performance as it compliments or contrasts with the two lead characters. Aye I agree that Jamie Foxx’s Django is the lead but to call Christoph Waltz’s character a supporting role seems wrong to me. Both are great as the first half of the movie is a sort of buddy western. Waltz’s is excellent as the father figure in a movie that desperately needed another protagonist. Foxx is just right as Django as his performance is good enough to be distinctive while not being bad enough to get pushed to the background by the very strong supporting cast. There is always one cast member tho that plays a little role in a Tarantino film but shines nonetheless and here it is Don Johnson as Big Daddy. He is excellent as a money hungry plantation owner and leads probably the funniest and best scene in the movie.
Django Unchained is just another example of what it means to be truly creative in cinema today. It is a movie that is best described as purely “Tarantino.” The dude has been making movies for 20 years and yet his distinctive style still feels as fresh as it did back in 92. Django may not be as disciplined as Tarantino’s other works but it is as fun and as uniquely itself as the rest of Tarantino’s impressive catalogue.