Tuesday, December 11, 2012

"Django Unchained" review

"Django Unchained"

Written & Directed by
Quentin Tarantino

Now when I first read that QT was writing/directing a spaghetti western-like epic with Leonardo DiCaprio as the main villain, I was definitely intrigued.

I am one of the few defenders out there for QT and really appreciate a lot of his work and even consider Kill Bill the finest thing he's ever done, considering it was incredibly well written, fast paced, disciplined with the editing, great performances, amazing action sequences, and beautifully photographed. The first film of his that he finally starts playing around with the camera in a big, bad way.

However, when the trailers and TV spots started to erupt all over the internet, I was shocked at how horrible the film looked. I had seen several pictures on IMDb for a while and heard a lot of things about the chaotic production, but the trailers blew me away in the worst kind of way.

They were so unbelievably different than what I expected them to be. And James Brown's "Playback" blasting in almost every single trailer? COME ON, QT...

I was still intrigued to see it though. I mean, it can't be that bad. It's gonna HAVE to have some amazing moments. QT's not quite that big of a hack just yet... But I was wrong. DEAD WRONG.

I was lucky enough to be invited to a private screening of Django Unchained last night at the Director's Guild of America in Hollywood and catch the film on the building's biggest screen, out of their three.

The film opens with a long overture with the curtains down. Not many people in the audience even seemed to care, but I did. I was like, "Okay Quentin. You're already off to a bad start." He just won't accept that, that sort of genre of filmmaking is dead and no matter how much he tries to bring back that affect, it'll keep hurting him and he'll lose more fans.

Then the film begins its opening title sequence with its flashy big red lettering. Jamie Foxx is being hauled through the desert with the other slaves, much like the opening scene in the trailers.

Eventually he meets Christoph Waltz's character, who comes riding in on a ridiculous Buggie with a giant Tooth attached to the top, dangling.

Waltz plays a former dentist turned bounty hunter, Dr. King Shultz. He rescues Django (Jamie Foxx), after blowing away a couple rough house white owners (James Remar and James Russo). Shultz is on a job to find a trio of brothers, called The Brittles, but doesn't know what they look like, but Django does, so they team up to find them and Shultz buys Django's slavery and gives him his freedom. Now in return, Django and Shultz team up for a second mission to find Django's kidnaped wife from its plantation owner, Calvin Candie. And thus, we have our silly revenge movie.

The film starts to unfold in a series of events that sort of shape Shultz and Django and form their friendship, which, to me was never very interesting.

Django Unchained is definitely QT's most action packed film since Kill Bill, but it was missing all that QT trademark. I didn't really feel like I was watching a QT film until DiCaprio's character, Calvin Candie, shows up. A wonderfully hypnotising introduction where Candie is simply puffing on a cigarette, sitting on his couch, while a very violent and extreme Mandingo match takes place.

All the performances for me were very ridiculous and never were enjoyable, except DiCaprio, who seriously was the only most consistently entertaining character in the entire three hour film. Yes. The film's almost three hours, clocking in at 165 minutes. QT's longest film to date, if you don't consider Kill Bill chocked together as a whole.

The violence, or shall I say gore, is completely gratuitous to be honest, quite boring. With all the constant shootouts and constant gunfire, I'm thinking, "When is this gonna end???" It wasn't done cleverly, or different. Nothing special. Which upsets me, cause knowing how much QT loves spaghetti westerns, he had an opportunity to make one of the best westerns ever made, but of course, like he did with the slasher and WW2 genre... he blew it.

Quentin's use of the N word, though used DOZENS of times, is never done in a smart way, and just became lazy writing. I believe this to be one of his worst scripts, in my opinion. None of his signature on the film, boring camera shots, obnoxious dialogue/violence, wooden performances. Especially Kerry Washington, who've I've never liked in the first place, but she was awful. ANNOYING. SO ANNOYING.

Tons of stuff happens, but nothing is interesting or exciting. However, I think you should definitely go see the film for yourself and form your own opinion. When I saw it with a packed house last night they seemed to love it. They were laughing constantly, but I wasn't. Laughed maybe twice.

The film is NOT a Drama/Western, like IMDb says, but a Comedy/Western. They're's literally NO drama in the entire film. It felt like a big, bright spoof in the vein of Blazing Saddles than something like Unforgiven.

The film's a mess, but thank God I have Steve McQueen's Twelve Years a Slave to fall back on.

P.S.: And just when I thought Quentin's cameos in his own films couldn't get any more horrible and pathetic, he just goes ahead and makes himself an Australian cowboy towards the end of the film. JUST HORRIBLE!!!!!!

This film cements QT in the "Hall of Hacks."

Please retire before you damage another genre. Thank you.


"If I wasn't a filmmaker, I'd be a film critic. It's the only thing I'd be qualified to do."
- Quentin Tarantino

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