I have mixed thoughts on Django Unchained. On on hand Quentin Tarantino’s take at a spaghetti western (although set in the south of America making a southern) Opening up to the theme from the 1966 Italian western Django by Roberto Fia, it nods at the source witch inspired it while tuckering the issue of slavery. As you’d expect with a new Tarantino movie, it is largely enjoyable with its snappy dialogue, over the top violence, larger than life characters and a soundtrack made up of old school and contemporary records. One the other hand however, it is way too long and is a key example of a film maker in love with his own work. Set in 1852, two years before the American civil war when slavery was legal, Jamie Foxx plays Django, a slave who’s been separated from his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington). Christoph Waltz’s Dr King Schultz, a bounty hunter who needs Django to identify three brothers wanted for murder, frees him and in return he will help find and reunite him with Broomhilda, who is at a plantation called Candyland owned by Calvin Candie (leonardo Dicaprio), a slave owner who forces his male slaves to fight to the death for money in a Mandingo fighting ring. The due hatch a convoluted plan and pose as potential buyers of a fighter wile offering to purchase Broomhilda in the process.
There are lots to like about Django Unchained, for one, it’s littered with great performances. Jamie Foxx is great as the title character, playing it cool as what is essentially a black Clint Eastwood. Decaprio relishes in a King Louis XIV role, ruling is fiefdom as a spoilt prince that is so bigoted and pompous. Waltz is his charismatic self keeping to the same performance he did in Inglorious Bastards as the unorthodox bounty hunter Schultz. He is charming, sophisticated and polite while deadly at the same time. Washington is solid but isn’t given much to do as does Walton Goggins as one of Candie’s cronies Billy Crash. Which in a 2 hour 45 minute movie is not given much screen time and feels like a wast of what could have been a great villein role, and that’s a shame. Samuel L. Jackson however walks away with the film as Candie’s head slave Stephen, who has nothing but love for his master and is the brains behind Candyland. It is most fully rounded complex character that Tarantino has ever written, paralleling the relationship between Django and Schultz with Stephen and Clavin. While being at Calvin’s servant, in private Stephen is more of a father figure to him and Jackson is fantastically intimating as him. The action is gloriously cartoonish and is full of fun and blood and the usage of songs from 2pac to Johnny Cash borrowing past movie scores from Morricone and Goldsmith works well. However as enjoyable these aspects are, it would be nice for Tarantino to move away from avenues he has been down before
The fIlms running length is an issue, as the story does feel stretched out with its own ideas (do we really need the german legend of Brunhilde/Broomhilda explained to us) Particularly in the middle section where our heroes take the journey to Candyland. This is mainly down to the script as it does seem that some trimming needed doing in the writing process. As the peace fits together as a whole but takes too long to do so as there are scenes that justifies one plot point at a time which bogs the film down from what it could have been an easy 2 hour flick. The use Despite the length and the pacing issues, Django Unchained is an enjoyable experience, just a drawn out one..