Josh Wilding Reviews: DJANGO UNCHAINED

Released in North America on December 25th and in the UK on January 18th, Django Unchained marks Quentin Tarantino's first movie since 2009's Inglourious Basterds. Hit the jump for my verdict on the highly anticipated movie which stars Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio.

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By Josh Wilding - 12/16/2012

When it comes to Django Unchained, it doesn't really matter whether or not you're a fan of Quentin Tarantino OR Spaghetti Westerns. Admittedly, if you ARE, then you're in for a real treat and this will undoubtedly be your favourite movie of 2012. However, it is is still quite simply superb. A sprawling epic which takes both the audience and its lead characters on a truly incredible journey, this is honestly one of the best movies to be released this year. The story focuses on bounty hunter 'Dr King Schultz' and former slave 'Django Freeman' as they form an unlikely alliance which begins out of necessity, but soon develops into a touching and believable friendship. They soon find themselves at loggerheads with the deranged and despicable plantation owner 'Calvin Candie' as the duo attempt to rescue Django's wife from his clutches. It's a simple, but epic, quest of revenge and is packed full of great character moments. In terms of humour, it never fails to deliver, and I would in fact go so far as to compare it to the likes of Marvel's The Avengers and Silver Linings Playbook in the respect that it not only tells a powerful and moving story, but still manages to be hilarious almost from start to finish. It's not easy to find the right balance, but damn, Tarantino sure as hell does!

Jamie Foxx is perfect as Django, and while it may not be a role which scores him the same sort of awards glory as Ray did, it's still one of his best performances yet. Tarantino gives everyone some fantastic dialogue, but it's Django's silence which speaks volumes and his nuanced and touching work here really is incredible. Two actors who ARE likely to receive plenty of awards attention are Christoph Waltz ('Dr King Schultz') and Leonardo DiCaprio ('Calvin Candie'). The former shares an incredible amount of chemistry with Foxx and this really is the actor at his very best as he injects a huge amount of life into the character through Tarantino's superb dialogue AND even the most minor of expressions and movements. DiCaprio on the other hand is wonderfully sadistic and spiteful as the plantation owner, in equal parts charming, engrossing and downright despicable. However, it's Samuel L. Jackson who really steals the show. As 'Stephen', he isn't even remotely recognisable as he totally transforms himself into this hateful (but still hilarious) character. The cast is packed with strong supporting performances, but it should come as no surprise to learn that it's Justified's Walton Goggins who stands out as the villainous 'Billy Crash'. You can just tell that he puts an awful lot into the character and has great fun while doing it - he shares two particularly memorable scenes with Jamie Foxx and the final one will undoubtedly be a lot of people's favourite scenes in the entire movie.

It should come as no surprise to learn that Tarantino never fails to deliver in terms of direction. While his heightened level of violence and blood is of course extremely stylised, he effectively manages to stop it from ever becoming totally absurd. It's the screenplay which is the real star however, and while Django Unchained never fails to deliver on laughs, it shouldn't be forgotten that it deals with some very sensitive subject material. The despicable racist characters serve as a poignant reminder as to how slaves were treated during this period as the film makes a point of highlighting one of the darkest times in American history. A scene in which Django begs the Brittle Brothers not to whip his wife after she ran away is simultaneously heartbreaking and extremely difficult to watch and it's a credit to Tarantino that he finds the perfect balance when it comes to how to treat the subject matter. At over two hours and forty minutes, Django Unchained arguably feels a little too long. However, despite a pretty hilarious cameo, Tarantino never overindulges himself with scenes that feel superfluous and it would be hard to rewatch the film and make a case for any one of them being removed or cut down (though I'm pretty sure we could have done without Jonah Hill's mostly pointless appearance). As if it wasn't already perfect enough, the soundtrack for the movie might just be one of the best...ever. Despite a few of the tracks feeling oddly out of place, they still work and there's just no way you won't want to rush straight out and pick it up once the credits roll.

This brutal and brilliant epic never fails to deliver and is surely destined for Oscar glory. As upsetting as it is exciting and hilarious, Django Unchained is a highly quotable and crowd-pleasing western which truly is Tarantino at his very best. Unmissable.






Set in the South two years before the Civil War, "Django Unchained" stars Academy Award®-winner Jamie Foxx as Django, a slave whose brutal history with his former owners lands him face-to-face with German-born bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Academy Award®-winner Christoph Waltz). Schultz is on the trail of the murderous Brittle brothers, and only Django can lead him to his bounty. The unorthodox Schultz acquires Django with a promise to free him upon the capture of the Brittles – dead or alive.

Success leads Schultz to free Django, though the two men choose not to go their separate ways. Instead, Schultz seeks out the South’s most wanted criminals with Django by his side. Honing vital hunting skills, Django remains focused on one goal: finding and rescuing Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), the wife he lost to the slave trade long ago.

Django and Schultz’s search ultimately leads them to Calvin Candie (Academy Award®-nominee Leonardo DiCaprio), the proprietor of “Candyland,” an infamous plantation where slaves are groomed by trainer Ace Woody (Kurt Russell) to battle each other for sport. Exploring the compound under false pretenses, Django and Schultz arouse the suspicion of Stephen (Academy Award®-nominee Samuel L. Jackson), Candie’s trusted house slave. Their moves are marked, and a treacherous organization closes in on them. If Django and Schultz are to escape with Broomhilda, they must choose between independence and solidarity, between sacrifice and survival...


STARRING:

Jamie Foxx as Django
Leonardo DiCaprio as Calvin Candie
Christoph Waltz as Dr. King Schultz
Kerry Washington as Broomhilda
Samuel L. Jackson as Stephen
Laura Cayouette as Lara Lee Candie-Fitzwilly
Dennis Christopher as Leonide Moguy
Don Johnson as Spencer 'Big Daddy' Bennett
M.C. Gainey as Big John Brittle
Tom Savini as Tracker Cheney
Anthony LaPaglia as Jano
James Remar as Ace Speck
Walton Goggins as Billy Crash
Tom Wopat as Marshall Gill Tatum
Misty Upham as Minnie

RELEASE DATE: 25th December, 2012 (US) January 18th, 2013 (UK)


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IIIAdamantiumIII - 12/16/2012, 4:04 PM
hells yeah!
JoshWilding - 12/16/2012, 4:05 PM
And stay tuned for my interview with Walton Goggins! He may be fantastic when it comes to playing villains, but you couldn't hope to speak to a nicer guy. :)
Bandrews1 - 12/16/2012, 4:05 PM
My anticipation for this movie is unreal. One more week :)
JerseyJoker - 12/16/2012, 4:08 PM
HOLY SHIT! Guys...guys...


....GUYS!

Josh gave out one of his rare 5 star reviews.
Godzillafart - 12/16/2012, 4:08 PM
@Josh: Good review, but I'm changing your name to "5-Star Josh". ;)
DioFoRio - 12/16/2012, 4:12 PM
not gonna look but I'm guessing josh gave 5 stars?
JoshWilding - 12/16/2012, 4:14 PM
Here we go again...

Tell you what, we went through this with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and judging from the comments I've seen since that's been released, 90% of you LOVED it as much as I did (even RorMachine has since said he would also up his rating to 5*). How about you actually wait until YOU see Django Unchained before complaining about how I rated it?
DioFoRio - 12/16/2012, 4:14 PM
KNEW IT!! Want to read the review but don't want spoilers. Can't wait to see this
DioFoRio - 12/16/2012, 4:16 PM
lol.Simmer down Josh. These movies are up our alley .we would be giving and are giving these flicks the same type of hype you are. The only movies that have Fandom divided are TDKR.
DioFoRio - 12/16/2012, 4:17 PM
Josh what did you give John Carter? I personally felt that flick had a lot of unwarranted heat thrown its way
DioFoRio - 12/16/2012, 4:19 PM
@immadick...you should add whiny between imma and dick ; )
Godzillafart - 12/16/2012, 4:20 PM
@Josh: By the way, very cool that you get to meet and interview actors and directors from time to time!
JoshWilding - 12/16/2012, 4:21 PM
imadick: Common sense at last. THANK GOD.



Dionysios: I only gave John Carter 2* I'm afraid! I certainly didn't HATE it, I just didn't think it was particularly good. I've been meaning to rewatch it though as I have a feeling it's one of those films which will be better when you know what you're expecting (think I went in with my expectations way too high). By the way, this review is spoiler-free. :)
BruceWayneNewton - 12/16/2012, 4:22 PM
I think Josh's ratings are on point and can't wait to see this. QT also gives the audience a great story.
JoshWilding - 12/16/2012, 4:25 PM
GodzllaFart: It really is, and I'm unbelievably grateful to CBM for getting the opportunity to do 'em. Interviewing Marc Webb was great and all, but Walton is definitely my highlight of 2012 (even though it was over the phone rather than in person). Such an interesting guy...I can't wait to share it with you guys, although that might not be until early next year when the movie is released over here. I had something like 18 questions prepared and only got to ask about SIX. Gives really in-depth and genuinely fascinating answers!
NerdyGeek - 12/16/2012, 4:25 PM
I really want to see that '30's Gangster film that Tarantino keeps talking about.

Good stuff Josh.
Godzillafart - 12/16/2012, 4:27 PM
@Josh: Very cool. Looking forward to it.
OnLeatherWings - 12/16/2012, 4:28 PM
Can't wait to see this. Great review and spot n from what I've been hearing from others.
rocky - 12/16/2012, 4:52 PM
So this is going to be the running joke now.
Josh go with your heart brother.
I still think you got TDKR and John Carter backwards but those are your reviews :)

Django is definitely off the chain, can't wait
DioFoRio - 12/16/2012, 4:54 PM
@immadick..lol touche'

@Josh ..yeah i think maybe because I went in with no expectations I ended up enjoying the movie more so than others..that's what has me worried bout DJango. I'm really excited and have been staying away from spoilers.
DioFoRio - 12/16/2012, 4:57 PM
just read it man. thanks for keeping it spoiler free : )

Good shit. I can Not WAIT! best Christmas evah!
JerseyJoker - 12/16/2012, 4:57 PM
Oh stop sucking his dick cause he got pissy about the 5-star review stuff.

Not saying Django doesn't deserve it, just its funny that he gives it to everything he reviews almost. Its funny.
Kyatollah - 12/16/2012, 4:59 PM
OH MY GOD! Someone "ironically" pointing out the frequency of Josh Wilding 5 Star reviews, this... This happens all the time, actually.
@Josh- Eff the haters, man. If you love the movies, that's great. I hate the mentality that you have to be cynical and spiteful of a work to be an aficionado. You can have a critical eye and still be a fan of something. Keep 'em coming, bro.
JoshWilding - 12/16/2012, 5:04 PM
Thanks guys! :)

Dionysios: Definitely avoid the spoilers at all costs. Even though the first act of the movie is made up mostly of what we've seen in the trailers, there's still a lot of surprises both there AND especially later on in the film. Would hate for any of that to be spoiled!

JerseyJoker: Yes, it's "funny" that I've given 9 out of the 25 movies I've reviewed for CBM this year 5*. That's less than 50% by the way.
JoshWilding - 12/16/2012, 5:07 PM
Kyatollah: My thoughts exactly. I'm a movie fan who reviews films for other fans. If people want pretentious verdicts from people who live to do little more than tear a film apart just for the hell of it, then they can find them elsewhere (although if I hate something, I'm not afraid to say, lol - The Bourne Legacy, Battleship, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, etc.). :)
maxxgone - 12/16/2012, 6:43 PM
@ josh wilding...

did you notice anything lacking from the (tragic & sad) absence of sally menke? i've heard a few minor rumblings of it noticeably differeing from QT's other films, but nothing major. i'm just curious if you yourself noticed a different 'feel' (for lack of a better word), when compared to the rest of his filmography.

thanks for the great review, i am eager (and now EXTREMELY) jealous! :)
Goggles - 12/16/2012, 6:51 PM


Great review. Can't wait to see this flick.
AbeVigoda - 12/16/2012, 8:10 PM
I can't stand that fat loser Jonah Hill. Hopefully hes not on screen for more than a few minutes..
AsianVersionOfET - 12/16/2012, 10:24 PM
Can't. Effing. WAIT. ANY. LONGER!
TheSonGoku - 12/16/2012, 10:46 PM
Josh would you say it's Oscar worthy? It may be a long shot but I'm just wondering, cause I've heard nothing but excellent things of this movie.
TheSonGoku - 12/16/2012, 10:47 PM
Oh yeah and this review confirms that I'll go watch it on Christmas.
gaikinger - 12/17/2012, 12:05 AM
I really like Tarantino films and I hope this is so good Ican forget what a deuchbag Fox is for 2+ hours.
Scuzz - 12/17/2012, 12:37 AM
@scripterminator; did that cat just jump to it's death? Its very upsetting.
loveturnmills - 12/17/2012, 12:41 AM
I have a real problem with Jamie Foxx... I just hate the guy and it makes it hard for me to watch a film with him in it.
amxt - 12/17/2012, 5:26 AM
The review of course was positive however was a bit repetitive at times in pacing and although it certainly was superbly descriptive it is however no surprise that you can just tell that the movie was very good.
;)
PapaMidnite - 12/17/2012, 5:32 AM
Yeah, i must admit that i bit my tongue when i doubted about the 5 stars that Josh gave to The Hobbit. The film is amazing indeed, deserves all stars.

About Django, well, we're talking about mother[frick]er QT! Can't wait!
Fogs - 12/17/2012, 7:11 AM
OH YEAH!
Godzillafart - 12/17/2012, 8:43 AM
Plus, Prometheus was only two stars and both stars were very stupid.
fr0zt - 12/17/2012, 9:25 AM
Tarantino never disappoints me in the director's chair or his screenplays. The only sub-par movie he's made to date is Death Proof which was still a fun movie purely because of the humor and chase scenes. Still disappointed the special edition "Kill Bill - The Whole Bloody Affair" was never released to Blu-Ray / DVD.
rocky - 12/17/2012, 9:42 AM
If you see rt as a sampling Django is batting 29 for 29 so Josh's 5 stars seems legit IMO

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