Django Unchained (2012) | Movie Review
Release date: December 25, 2012
Runtime: 2 hr. 46 min.
MPAA rating: R
A new Quentin Tarantino film was long overdue - it's been three years since Inglourious Basterds and I was getting restless. When I first heard he was working on what looked like a western I was surprised, but then it didn't really matter what the film was going to be about - it's a Tarantino film and I knew I was going to see it. Especially with Christoph Waltz being back, this time as a protagonist, and Leonardo DiCaprio playing a villain.
The story unfolds in the South of United States, two years before the Civil War. Django is freed from slavery and guided by an "undercover" bounty hunter - german-born Dr. King Schultz. The two become partners and eventually set out to find Django's wife, Broomhilda. The film is everything you would expect from Tarantino: the humor, the violence, the dialogue, the mixing of genres - from beginning to end the style is unmistakable. My expectations were high after Inglourious Basterds and I was not let down: this movie made me laugh, cringe, cry, feel uncomfortable and applaud.
The Academy is going to face a tough decision giving the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in a few months. On one hand there is the brilliant Christoph Waltz as Dr. King Schultz. He steals the show with his performance and gives a new meaning to "bringing life to a character". Everything he says and does has a unique undeniable charm. He goes from funny to dead serious in a blink of an eye and disarms with his wit. After watching Waltz as Dr. King there really is no imagining anyone else in the role. On the other hand there is Leonardo DiCaprio as Calvin Candie - one of the most despicable villains I've ever seen. This southern gentleman is not one of those bad guys you kind of want to root for - he is ruthless and heartless. DiCaprio gives a chilling performance, transforming completely and showing a whole new dimension of his character range. Both actors deserver all the praise and recognition in the world. Jaimie Foxx is perfect as Django: out of all the characters in the film he takes the furthest journey from where he starts off as a person in the beginning. While he may not be dealing with mountains of dialogue, he find other ways to open himself up to the viewers and when he does speak it's no more and no less than what needs to be said.
Aside from the fantastic acting and writing, Django Unchained is very well made. Cinematography is great, tying everything together and adding to that unique Tarantino-style look of the film. Even the quite contemporary soundtrack works, which is completely unexpected for a period piece. Tarantino really is an undeniable master of mixing genres - as writer and director of this movie he is on top of his game. The violence is there, of course, and while I might have thought some of it went a bit overboard, I can't imagine the film without it - everything is there for a reason.
So why 4 and not 5 rating? There was a point where the movie felt a bit too long, a scene that didn't really fit with the overall pace. I also keep going back and forth on a few particular visuals of violence, that didn't seem out of place and yet I keep asking myself whether they really were necessary. However these are minor details and in no way do they take away how great this movie is - I was so close to rating it 5 out of 5.
Djano Unchained is hands down a must-see and one of the best films of 2012. I loved it! It is daring, stylish, excessive, powerful, beautiful, rough and violent, but above all it is excellent entertainment delivered by some of the best people in the business. What a way to finish a year!