Reviews: Django Unchained

Two Failed Acts and Two Failed Characters

The title is Django Unchained. A main character's name is Django. It doesn't take a math whiz to say, "Hey, this movie's about Django!" It doesn't feel like it, though.

The film opens up with Django being bought by an eccentric German dentist named Schultz, who has a knack for talking. A lot. Very loquaciously, too. Django is the exact opposite. Herein lies one of the film's main problems. It's a standard trope of Westerns, most famously The Good The Bad And The Ugly, that the hero be a soft-spoken mysterious drifter, usually accompanied by a very talkative sidekick. However, the way this film is done, Django feels more like a soft-spoken sidekick than a hero until the final act.

From the get-go, Schultz talks and talks and talks and talks and talks. Almost non-stop right up to his departure at the end of the second act. Django barely has any scenes away from Schultz and interacting with other characters outside of involvement with Schultz, he's a "natural" gunman but requires a training montage for some reason, and practically the only thing the audience knows about him is that he's rebellious and loves his wife very much.

Speaking of his wife, Broomhilda is almost atrociously underwritten. She barely has any lines, and spends the majority of her time onscreen crying in agony and being threatened or abused in some horrible way. Kerry Washington is effective in this role, but it begs the question: Why her? What about this character makes Django so hell-bent to rescue her besides marital vows and some inspirational German fairy-tale Schultz told Django?

The final point of criticism is that the film meanders. The best parts are from when Django and Schultz discover who Broomhilda's new owner is to when Django has that bloody fight scene in Candie's mansion. The entire beginning could have been trimmed down, and the entire ending could have been written differently, with less of an anticlimactic feeling to it. Scenes spent developing characters besides Schultz and the two villains - like, I dunno, our hero - could've been added.

Overall, this was a 5/10 film for me. Not Tarantino's best, but not his worst.

P.S. Yes, to rehash the debate, a certain word was used way too many times in comparison to how little another word commonly used in 1858 was used in the film, like "Negro".
  • Gaon
  • 13th Feb 13
  • 4

I don't know what to make of this movie (Spoilers)

Django Unchained is unique film, tossing (like all Tarantino movies) gore, action, comedy and drama into a blender, becoming a surreal mix. But, I'm still unsure what to make of this movie.

Let's get to the pros, Django Unchained has some truly fantastic characters (Dr.King Schultz, in special), a mind-blowing soundtrack ("His Name is King..."), good cinematography, brillant gunfights, and some extremely funny moments (NO, NOBODY BROUGHT AN EXTRA BAG!). It's a clever, amusing, hilarious and even sometimes heartwarming action movie.

However, as Wackd's review noticed, the plot is somewhat shallow as you go along the ride, for instance, the entire Brittle Brothers/Proto KKK thing seriously serves no purpose in the movie. Granted, it did introduce a piece of Django's backstory, but it still comes as bizarre how the film's first forty minutes have no connection to the plot of the rest. I'd just merge The Brittle Brothers' plot with Candie's (say the Proto KKK just dragged runaway slaves to Candie to increase his stock of Mandingos and done, a more workable plot).

Another problem: Django is fantastically overshadowed by the rest of the cast. He is an amusing character with some depth, but Schultz is one of the most amusing gunfighters in western history, Leonardo Di Caprio redefines the meaning of the term "Chewing The Scenery", And Samuel L. Jackson is a freaking riot ("JESUS GIVE ME THE STRENGTH TO KILL THIS NIGGER."), Django was the character I LEAST enjoyed watching out of these four. It does not help that A) The movie focuses a lot more on Django B) Schultz is murdered mid-way through, and for me the movie somewhat fell apart without his charisma or fatherly relationship with Django. I also felt it was a death completely, absurdly, absolutely unnecessary.

Summing up, I felt like if the movie followed the more "straight action movie route" (i.e Schultz and Django team up against Candie, they save Hilda, kill Candie. They Ride away to live more adventures. Roll credits. Stephen doesn't interrupt the plot abruptly and the movie follows swiftly), I'd have liked it a lot more. One of the rare cases where predictability would have helped.

Still, to quote Candie, "It's quite a bit of fun". 7/10, maybe eight. SEE REVIEW'S TITLE.

Worth it for the style alone—which is good, because there's not much substance.

Let me just start by saying that if you're a big action movie fan, this film will please you. The action scenes are engaging and shot well, the blood is gratuitous but stylized enough not to be distracting, and the vast majority of the one-liners and clips land well and should elicit a chuckle even at their worst.

And if you're a big Western fan, you'll be pretty pleased too. The movie's to big love letter to the genre and is often stylistically similar to the days of yore—in terms of look and sound (save for the occasional rap song in the BMG), Django Unchained may as well be a re-release from the fifties or sixties.

The movie is relentlessly entertaining, there's no denying it.

But is it any good?

From a plot perspective, the film feels patchy in its first act, with events happening linearly enough but no sense of an overarching plot. Things pull together once Django and Schultz find out where Django's wife is being held, but fall apart again once Schultz decides to firmly grasp the Idiot Ball and respark conflict seemingly only because Tarantino realized that if he didn't we end up with a really short movie. As a result, the third act has the distinct feeling that we're retracing our steps, and while we do get an amusing action set piece out of it the entire ending is undercut by the nagging feeling that there's no point to it.

As for the characters, only Django and Schultz seem to have much depth, and to Tarantino's credit their growth and how it happens comes in small, subtle doses. But the baddies are all generically Affably Evil, save for Samuel L. Jackson's character, who is pretty much generically evil period. And Django's wife barely has enough characterization to be a mere Damsel In Distress—she's more a Mac Guffin than anything.

So, yeah. It's, by most counts, a pretty shallow movie. Damn is it entertaining, though. I'd say it's worth at least one watch on the big screen if you just wanna pack away the popcorn for a couple of hours.

Possibly Tarantino's Best

For my in-depth review of this film, go to my Tumblr movie review page here, but suffice it to say that this is, IMHO, Tarantino's best film, and one that not only plays to his strengths, but also subverts some of the tropes we associate with his style.

Bottom line, this movie is a MUST SEE for fans of Spaghetti Westerns, Blaxploitation film and the films of Sam Peckinpah. HIGHLY recommended.

Probably, One of my favorite movies of 2012

To put it frankly, Django Unchained is an unadulterated, bloody, violent, HILARIOUS good time of a movie. I enjoyed every second of it. The standout performance of the movie is easily Samuel L. Jackson. As soon as he steps on the screen, the movie just goes up to epic proportions. I cannot praise the movie enough, I just need to see it again lol. Seriously...