If you ask me to mention a name of a Hollywood director who always boldly shows off an eccentric style in every work he or she makes but still receives acclaim and sympathy from the moviegoers and award-voters in all around the world, the answer musts be Quentin Tarantino. Last month he came back with his newest film, “Django Unchained”, which recently becomes one of the contenders of this year’s Academy Award’s Best Picture, although I doubt that it can get its chance to win. “Django Unchained” is a real proof that this guy will still (and always) exist with all his styles and trademarks in his every work.
“Django Unchained”, whose screenplay was written by Quentin himself, raises a topic of slavery in United States of America in 1858. Django (played by Jamie Foxx) was a slave, bought and freed by a dentist-turned-bounty hunter named Dr. King Schultz (played by Christoph Waltz). Dr. Schultz ask Django’s help to find his targets and kill them. Finally, the two made a journey to the Southern part of the country to find a way to kill their targets, until they tried to help Django’s wife, Broomhilda (played by Kerry Washington), a slave owned by Calvin Candie (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) who owned Candyland plantation.
“Django Unchained” was started without an attention-stealer, suspense-builder opening scene like Quentin did in “Inglorious Basterds” (when Hans Landa inspected Monsieur LaPadite’s house that hides some Jewish), “Kill Bill: Vol 1” (when The Bride was shot by Bill), or any of his previous works. There were just some slaves walking in a row around a scenery of Southern America, with a theme song titled “Django” playing in the background, followed by the opening credits. There was no early finger-snap, or if you think that the scene when Dr. King Schultz bought and freed Django from his current owner was the opening scene I meant, well, I’m not impressed. To be honest, besides there were many cameos (including cameos from Jonah Hill and Quentin himself), mild and humorous black comedy all around, and a detailed description of the situation of slavery in that era, I admit that I didn’t really enjoy the story of “Django Unchained” as a whole. I don’t know, I think the plot structure was not developed well enough that it didn’t show an effort of the characters in the story from the beginning to achieve a goal in the ending. See, at first I thought that Dr. King Schultz and Django would only hunt for Brittle Brothers as their targets. In fact, in the second quarter of the duration, the focus shifted to the memory Django had in mind about his wife. Suddenly, in the middle part until the ending, it finally revealed that the real goal these partners-in-crime want to achieve was to help and free Broomhilda from Calvin Candie. Wasn’t it just a character introduction? I’m not sure. It’s like you’re visiting a new town which you haven’t visited before, and were welcomed by your friend who was a local resident, then both of you walked around your current place until you felt tired and finally asked, “Where are we exactly going?” The real goal of the whole story was unraveled in the middle, not in the beginning, and that’s why the tension and curiosity of the viewers were not built from the beginning and were not also relieved in the ending.
However, Quentin is still Quentin. He still charmingly and whimsically processed all the actions and black comedies into an entertaining regale that viewers will enjoy. Splattered blood, gore scenes, gun shots, straight-forwarded dialogue, and nice cinematography were still sprinkled to make this non-perfect plot enjoy-able. Of course, a good casting is another additional value—regardless of whether the script has created a deep characterization for the roles or not. Jamie Foxx, unfortunately, seems less prominent as a leading role, because I think the scenario pushed Dr. King Schultz to show off more than Django. And, ah, I don’t know why Christoph Waltz here looks just similar with Hans Landa he portrayed in “Inglorious Basterds”. His acting was good, his dialogue was nice, but his character was not fresh. It’s like seeing an old character in a new, different film. I am impressed (at least by how he could speak three languages in this film), but not amazed by him. My amazement is addressed more to Leonardo DiCaprio. It’s rare seeing him playing an antagonist, and he really nailed it! I think he was more suitable for Best Supporting Actor nomination in Oscar rather than Waltz, for he could totally be a calm, exploding-anytime antagonist. In a scene when he smashed his palm to a table and broke a glass, his hand was really dipping blood but he still continued his dialogue without even a break. That’s great.
After reading previous paragraphs, you may think that I don’t like “Django Unchained”. The truth is I like it, but not love it. Well, I haven’t seen all of Quentin’s works (I haven’t seen “Reservoir Dogs”, “Jackie Brown”, “Death Proof”, and all of his short films), but I think “Django Unchained” is not better than—or at least as good as—others. I almost gave it a 3-star rating, but finally added a half-star regarding to some wow scenes (like the Mandingo Fight). “Django Unchained” is good, very “QT”, but not at the maximum point.
▲ Leonardo DiCaprio, Quentin's eccentric style, black comedies
▼ Christoph Waltz, fail to build tension due to the structure plot
DJANGO UNCHAINED | COUNTRY USA YEAR 2012 RATING Rated R for strong graphic violence throughout, a vicious fight, language and some nudity RUNTIME 165 min GENRE Action, Drama, Western CAST Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson WRITER Quentin Tarantino DIRECTOR Quentin Tarantino IMDB RATING 8.7/10 (Top 250 #44) METACRITIC 81/100 (Universal Acclaim) ROTTEN TOMATOES 89% (Certified Fresh) MORE INFO