When I first heard the title of Quentin Tarantino’s highly-anticipated film, I knew it was going to be good. As an avid fan of his films, I eagerly awaited his next contribution to the world of cinema, and Django Unchained captured my attention before I even laid my hungry eyes on a trailer or preview clip.
For those of you who also love Tarantino, you know what to expect when you sit down in your theatre seat. His wicked storylines are guaranteed to be accompanied by an awesome soundtrack, buckets of blood, and witty dialogue. Django Unchained is all that and more. It is 165 minutes of alternating between laughter and teeth gritting, and it is a rollicking good time.
The film starts off with a bang (literally), and keeps climbing higher from there. Right away, you are introduced to some fascinating characters. Jamie Foxx plays the title character and his stoic presence and heroic quest make him likeable and relatable. He offsets the kookier characters, such as Christoph Waltz’s odd but intelligent Dr. King Schultz, or Leonardo DiCaprio’s maniacal and sadistic Calvin Candie. The combination of all of these different personalities makes their various interactions very interesting to watch.
It is Christoph Waltz who steals the show. Just like his unforgettable portrayal of Hans Landa in Tarantino’s 2009 film Inglorious Basterds, he is consistently enjoyable to watch. His ability to shift from a ruthless Nazi to a dentist-turned-bounty hunter who is sympathetic to the plight of African American slaves in the southern United States is remarkable, showcasing how talented he is. Leonardo DiCaprio also deserves a mention for his depiction of a wealthy southern gentleman, who is, in fact, not very gentlemanly at all. He seems refined, yet through his actions, he is shown to be completely off the hinges. DiCaprio successfully establishes a nasty glint in his eyes, and it seems, at any second, he will snap and turn into an absolute lunatic. He is a spectacular villain, entirely detestable but yet so entrancing.
In addition to the main characters, there are other familiar faces that pop up, as well. Samuel L. Jackson plays a cantankerous old house slave, completely devoted and almost equally cruel as his master, Calvin Candie. Kerry Washington portrays Django’s wife, the character who drives the story, as Django is so desperate to find and save her from the abuse of her owner. Jonah Hill also has a small role as a backwoods sidekick who is intent on punishing Django and Dr. Schultz for their interracial partnership. His scene is one of the more humorous sequences in the film, and it displays how deft Quentin Tarantino is at screenwriting, for he has the ability to show just how foolish and ridiculous villainous intentions can be, diffusing the constant tension with a bit of light-heartedness.
Like any Tarantino movie, this one is just as violent and bloody, and is certainly not for the faint of heart. There are guns, whips and vicious dogs, complete with expert, yet horrific special effects and make-up. In practically every scene, you are holding your breath, waiting for something bad to happen. This is another Tarantino trademark: he is skilled at long scenes in one setting, layering on dialogue and subtle gestures, that gradually crescendo into a final flurry of action. This weaving of tension and drama can make the viewer extremely apprehensive. Just like his classics, Django Unchained shares this quality. However, although incredibly violent, there is some retribution. Tarantino would not disappoint his viewers by neglecting to dish out ‘just desserts’.
This movie is an action packed rollercoaster ride. Unlike some other films full of violence and machismo, this one is a delight to view. There is no hollow dialogue or wooden acting. Every part is a skillfully placed puzzle piece, creating a grand spectacle. If you are looking for laughs, thrills, and drama, then look no further.
Just remember, the ‘D’ is silent . . . .