(Quentin Tarantino, 2012)
Reviewed by Dave Lancaster
Summary: Tarantino's spaghetti western finally arrives, backed by a posse of wild performances and lashings of violence that threatrens to outstay its welcome.
With 'Django Unchained', Quentin Tarantino finally gets to make his long awaited spaghetti western, an homage to the likes of 'Django' and 'The Good, The Bad and The Ugly'. Technically this isn't so as the term 'spaghetti western' refers to Italian shoestring genre cinema but like he did with his loose war exploitation remake 'Inglourious Basterds', Tarantino has filled in the gaps with sledgehammer precision.
Set against an unforgiving backdrop of racial oppression, 'Django Unchained' centres around the titular slave (Jamie Foxx) who is unchained by the eccentric German bounty hunter Dr King Schultz (Christoph Waltz). Together they journey to a plantation called CandieLand owned by the violent figurehead Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) to buy a slave named Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) who, we discover, is Django's wife. Complicating things is Candie's savvy butler Stephen (Samuel L Jackson) who we suspect is really the man behind CandieLand - a black man in a racist world who, like Django, has developed real power.
'Django Unchained' has plenty to say about racism and oppression, but it really pulls the rug from under the viewer when it starts to ask them who exactly are the good guys. Given the suject matter, that's brave and (naturally) controversial. Tarantino asks questions and then shoots later, giving us the best of both worlds.
Like all Tarantino flicks, 'Django Unchained' wears its influences on its bloodstained sleeve but at nearly three hours it threatens to outstay its welcome. There's a hilarious scene between a plantation owner (a brilliantly cast Don Johnson) and his KKK-style posse leader (Jonah Hill) about the design flaws of wearing white sacks with tiny eye slits before they ambush their target. The writing is so slick and enjoyable, you don't really care that the scene isn't really that important. The same goes for Tarantino's cameo as an Australian slave driver. There are a few more similar moments which, when added together, add plenty of flavour but little meat to the one pot genre cocktail.
As well as functioning as a wonderful catch-and-release of tonal shifts, it's a film of dynamic brilliance. It could make a good case for the argument that films are living, breathing entities. As he did with 'Basterds', Christoph Waltz steals the show as the German bounty hunter whose second language is English but he is more eloquent than anybody else in the picture. Django is the least interesting major character in the piece, acting more like our eyes to this world but given how rich Tarantino has made his vistas you welcome this set of roaming eyes. A film of harsh beauty, 'Django Unchained' is a triumph.
Check out the theatrical trailer and more stills from 'Django Unchained' HERE at Cinemas Online.
Other film news
George Clooney's crowded trophy cabinet is set to see a new addition: the 'Syriana' and 'Argo' double Oscar winner is set to receive the Cecil B. DeMille Award from the Golden Globes at the 2015 ceremony.
'Django Unchained' co-star Daniele Watts made the headlines recently when she was pictured crying alongside a police officer having been detained. She and her partner claimed on their Facebook pages that the 'racist' LAPD assumed that she was a prostitute and he her client prompting them to demand her ID to which she refused as she deemed her right. However, the full story may have more to it...
'Avengers Assemble' star and Oscar nominated 'The Kids Are Alright' actor Mark Ruffalo has revealed that he has actively campaigned for a role in the new 'Star Wars' film - regardless of how minor the part may be.
Oscar nominated director David Fincher is teaming up with one of crime fiction's most renowned writers - David Fincher - for a new HBO series.
Oscar winning actor and producer George Clooney will direct 'Hack Attack' - a film drama about the British phone hacking scandal that targeted celebrities, politicians and royalty.
Carried to her grave in a mahogany casket by six pallbearers, Rivers was laid to rest in New York city - the place where he storied career took off.
Following a reported massive Apple iCloud attack, hackers have leaked numerous images of celebrities including Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence.
Television's biggest night, the Emmy Awards, was dominated by the swansong of 'Breaking Bad'. Stars Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul and Anna Gunn took home awards while the show itself won the big one for Best Drama Series. On the comedy side of things, 'Modern Family' won yet again.
Richard Attenborough, the multi-Oscar winning filmmaker and character actor, has died aged 90.
Veteran 'Harry Potter' franchise director David Yates ('Order of the Phoenix', 'Half-Blood Prince' and both parts of the 'Deathly Hallows' finale) will return for the forthcoming spin-off trilogy.
Lawrence Tureaud, or as the world knows him: Mr T, recently reported for jury duty in Chicago.
Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence is now reportedly in a relationship with Coldplay singer Chris Martin, according to E! Online.
In the wake of the devastating shock suicide of Robin Williams' suicide, the comic and Oscar winning dramatic actor's wife has released a statement.
If any of you have seen the 2002 documentary 'Lost in La Mancha', you'll know just how much director Terry Gilliam has struggled to bring his film 'The Man Who Killed Don Quixote' to the big screen. Ill cast members and set destruction led to his Johnny Depp-led nearest attempt being scrapped before shooting could be completed, but now it looks like the 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' filmmaker will get another shot.
'Terminator: Genisys' is coming. And that's not a typo.
Oscar winner Jon Voight isn't happy. In fact he's 'more than angry'. The 'Mission Impossible' and 'Coming Home' star has given fellow Oscar winning actors Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem a dressing down in an opinion piece he wrote for The Hollywood Reporter.
Film studio Lionsgate has launched legal action against the online pirates who shared a high-quality copy of 'The Expendables 3' weeks before its official release.
The forthcoming live-action film version of 'The Jungle Book' has added another big name to its cast - 'Ghostbusters' star Bill Murray has just signed on to play Baloo.
'Scream' and 'E.T.' star Drew Barrymore's half-sister Jessica has been found dead.
The producers of 'King Kong' prequel 'Skull Island' are reportedly keen to get Joe Cornish to direct the big budget spectacular.