*Originally written September 25th, 2015*
"I like the way you die, boy"
Tarantino is a well known fan of westerns. His films are littered with homages and cues to well known westerns, a lot of his films even have western elements. With him taking on his first full-blown western, you'd expect another Tarantino masterpiece, while it isn't quiet that, it is still another excellent and worthy entry into his amazing filmography.
Django Unchained follows a slave Django (Jamie Foxx) who is freed by a bounty hunter, Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) who trains him to be a bounty hunter also and agrees to help him free his enslaved wife from Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).
To get the minor quibbles out the way. Django Unchained has a few minor problems that emerge in the last 40 minutes. First off, it is so long, which isn't too much of a problem as it runs at such an relentless pace. The Biggest problem is a strange choice a lead character makes in the last act, which completely derailed the character and seemed like a poor excuse to get a gun fight to start, there were plenty of ways the film could have got to this set-piece, but doing it in a way that just butchered one of the best characters of the film just felt stupid. Lastly, Tarantino could really not just help himself, he had to cast himself in a completely terrible cameo, which just felt awkward and unnecessary. His character has a an AWFUL Australian accent, why does he do this? I love his films, but he needs to just stay solely behind the camera.
These minor things aside, Django Unchained is one of the most entertaining and overall enjoyable films I've ever seen. Every scene is just pure, balls out the bath fun. The bloody violence is unrestrained and just fantastic. No CGI here, just gallons of squibs worth of practical blood. Gorgeous. The action scenes themselves are well shot and smooth. The Candie Land shootout is one of the best set-pieces I've seen from an action film and might just be Tarantino's best straight-up action scene he's filmed, it's a mash up between this, The Crazy 88 scene from Kill Bill and the theater scene from Inglorious Basterds.
The performances are all great. Obviously Christoph Waltz won an Oscar for his charming role as bounty hunter who takes in Django. Jamie Foxx is kinda forgettable as Django, he's just kinda there, he doesn't give a bad performance, it's just when everyone else in the film is so great, you're gonna get forgotten. DiCaprio is excellent as the villain, playing it gleefully sadistic and clearly just having a blast being a slave owner. The stand-out and most enjoyable member of the cast though, easily has to be Samuel L Jackson as the self loathing head slave of DiCaprio's Candie, he plays it so fantastically over the top and hammy, it's hilarious. I've never seen him like this before.
Filled with a lot of the Tarantino trademarks. You know, long, engrossing monologues about something mundane or not important, but it's just so well written you hang on every word. Including an amazing scene where a primitive KKK argue about the quality of the sacks on their heads. There's the bombastic and erratic camera shoots, so many fast zoom ins here, which all look great and are effective. And of course, it wouldn't be Tarantino without an amazing soundtrack, filled with classic, modern hip-hop and rap.
Django Unchained might falter slightly towards the end, but you can't deny that every moment of this western is just a joy to watch. I want to give this a 10 so bad, but that poor character choice at the end really won't let me.
Django Unchained is out now on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK
Watch the trailer below:
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