Django Unchained, Unchained: A Review

I know, it’s been awhile. I’ve been screenwriting. And making no money. And being billed for taking out loans in college. Anyway:

I’ve seen Django in the theaters twice now and had a couple of weeks to let it settle. I have four points I want to discuss: acting, writing, negative response from the public (from people who haven’t seen it), and overall reaction. I love Tarantino as a director, but it’s not really my area, so I’m leaving that be.

1.) You do have to give Tarantino some credit for the casting. This is something he excels at across the board in all his films and in all the roles in Django were expertly cast.

I was at first disappointed when I heard that Will Smith was originally offered the title role and turned it down, but after seeing the movie, I find it hard to picture him as Django. And Jamie Foxx did a remarkable job. Also, I somehow missed this before, but he’s a good-looking dude.

I adore Christoph Waltz. I was very conflicted after he appeared in Inglourious Basterds (gotta love the spelling) because his character was so charismatic. But he was also satanic jew-murdering spawn. He was so lovely in Django I could hardly stand it. Like in Basterds, he was a bounty hunter, but this time he had a conscience. He deserves all the awards and nominations he’s been getting.

Kerry Washington I’d never heard of before, but it was so easy to get behind her (and consequently behind Django) and I look forward to her future appearances.

Samuel L. Jackson is in it too. And he’s always brilliant, but I had no idea he was so good at playing evil.

Now one of the big uproars after the nominees for the oscars were announced was that Leonardo DiCaprio, the main villain of the piece, did not get a nomination. The uproar is understandable. He was #^&%ing terrifying. That being said he would be going up against Waltz (though really Waltz and Foxx’s character share leading role-ship.

2.) Now for the writing. I don’t think I’ve disliked any of Tarantino’s writing. His characters are so unique and each of their voices are unlike any others. He’s the master of dialogue.

Now the story: it was told like a legend, almost a fairytale, which I really liked, but it tended to meander a bit and I wasn’t always sure what the characters were supposed to be doing at any given point. I also would have preferred if he had reworked it so it all ended at the first big showdown in Candyland. Not that I didn’t enjoy the scenes that followed especially Tarantino’s cameo (I was in hysterics when he blew up), I just felt it could have been tightened.

It was uncharacteristically linear (this wasn’t necessarily a negative given this particular story), and definitely had more of the flavor that Basterds had, than his other films (though a completely different setting and genre, if that makes any sense, which it doesn’t).

And it had good old fashioned Tarantino humor. Dark and bloody. I think the funniest scene was the introduction of the KKK. Let me explain. They were made to look so foolish and uneducated that you were allowed to laugh at them. Because really, you can’t excuse KKK behavior, and making them foolish and outwitting them is the best way to deal with such people. I also liked the tooth Waltz had attached to his cart with a spring and when Django chose his own clothes.

3.) Spike Lee is being an idiot. I appreciate Do the Right Thing and all, but he’s being ridiculous. To criticize a film before you’ve seen it is completely unfair. This is not the first time that a movie has been made set in this time period about this topic. Django even empowers the people who are struggling in this movie; it’s about justice and even about love. During one of his rants condoning the movie, he said that American slavery was a “holocaust.” I find this hilarious, seeing as Tartino’s last film was about, what we refer to as the holocaust. Clearly bloody history is not a taboo for Quentin. I discovered recently that I was not the only person outraged by Lee’s outrage.

And there were the normal qualms about language and violence. As my parents used to tell me “it’s all pretend” and no one’s forcing you to go to the movie. The n-word is thrown about quite a bit, but as I understand it that’s fairly authentic.

4.) Overall reaction: this movie is SO MUCH FUN! I actually liked it better the second time I saw it. This may be because I was with my mother who adored the hell out of it. She said it was her favorite Tarantino film outside of Pulp Fiction (I’m more of a Reservoir Dogs girl myself) and maybe Kill Bill Vol. 1. Personally, and this is just my own cinematic taste, I preferred the European sensibility of Basterds to the western one here, but that’s not a filmmaking issue.

That is all.

About Risa Romano

Writer type thing. I work on stories for kids when I'm on the clock and screenplays quite a bit less for kids when I'm not. I have a blog: I'm also the creator and moderator of the Doctor Who vodcast/podcast A Disused Yeti:
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