BY: MICHAEL EMERSON
Why can’t more movies have comedy, drama and action with each genre meshing together perfectly in an engaging story?
Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained provides an answer: Because Tarantino doesn’t make more movies like this.
Django Unchained is presented as a love letter to spaghetti westerns, told from the point of view of Tarantino’s wide-eyed love for the genre, and it’s set in the slavery times before the American Civil War.
The film stars Jamie Foxx as the titular Django, a soft-spoken slave turned bounty hunter who is on a mission to find his wife. Along the trip to a plantation, Django meets Dr. King Schultz, played by Christoph Waltz, a German dentist who is also a bounty hunter in pursuit of a few criminals whose appearances are known by Django. Schultz needs Django in order to identify these criminals.
As the two spend more time together they develop a bond and do their best to help each other as they claim bounties and locate Django’s wife.
The plot seems simple enough, but what is surprising about this film is the presentation of its brilliant juxtaposition between the goofiness of old westerns and the severity of the time the movie takes place.
A lot of the scenes are extremely graphic to the point of seeming cartoonish, but nothing seems out of place. Of course, the film isn’t all guns and blood. The movie takes a good amount of time developing the three main characters and looks into the psychological aspects of the times without losing a beat.
Without a doubt, this movie pulls no punches when it comes to any of its scenes, whether they be comedic, dramatic or both. Several scenes of drama and obscene violence have bits of comedy sprinkled through them and vice versa. Every dialogue exchange holds some weight to it and never once did the plot drag.
Everybody in the film was memorable, from the main cast to the minor characters; everybody seemed to be in the right spot.
Big mention goes to the performance by Leonardo DiCaprio who successfully loses his baby-faced screams and exchanges them for one of the most frightening yet entertaining performances to date as the sadistic slave owner of Django’s wife, Calvin J. Candie.
Other actors such as Foxx, Waltz and an especially surprising Samuel L. Jackson bring their A-game to each scene and leave you wanting more.
The only fault I found in the movie would be the character of Django’s wife, wasting the talent of Kerry Washington, who is nothing more than a plot device here. Another slight misstep would probably be a oddly placed rap song in the middle of the movie, which is incredibly jarring.
But the good outweighs the bad as the main score of the movie is the theme of the original Django western as well as some great original tunes that keeps the western spirit alive from beginning to end.
Django Unchained is a fast, dramatic, bloody, hilarious and unforgettable experience that will be remembered as one of Tarantino’s best works.