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.
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...
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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