The first Tarantino movie I saw was Pulp Fiction in 1995. I had no idea what to expect when I walked into that cinema and it’s fair to say I had no immediate idea what I’d just seen when I walked out with my jaw on the floor.
Django Unchained is no Pulp Fiction, but it’s still pretty damn good.
Tarantino’s made enough films now for people to know the formula, but not so many that the formula has become tired.
A distinct plot with a first class script, excessive stylised blunt-force violence, a killer soundtrack and more often than not, something big and unexpected. Django Unchained has all that, though because it’s another new genre for Tarantino it’s a little bit ….. different.
The performances in this film are exceptional. Jamie Foxx is great as Django and Leonardo Di Caprio – the boy actor now definitely a man – just keeps getting better. Samuel L. Jackson is wonderfully annoying as Di Caprio’s house negro but it’s Cristoph Waltz who steals the film.
Tarantino’s movies always surprise in one way or another and for me, it was Waltz as Django’s owner/mentor/liberator/partner who sets this film apart. His manner is perfect and his lines are written and delivered with panache.
Stylised sensationalism is the name of the game in any Tarantino movie and Django delivers in spades with big scenes, big laughs (the klan scene is a masterpiece of satire and Django’s valet outfit is hilarious) and of course, big deaths. The blood doesn’t always flow as freely as in the Kill Bill films, but when it comes, it comes in volume. The fine line between entertainment and offence has footprints on both sides, but while it’s sometimes hard to watch, it’s rarely (if ever) out of place. Tarantino uses violence for entertainment, but he doesn’t glorify it.
I may be reaching a little too far here, but I also appreciated the small glimpse into the slavery era, too. It’s something we know about in theory, but rarely consider in detail. I don’t consider this a real depiction by any means, but I’m sure that some of the more distasteful moments were just the tip of the iceberg.
Django Unchained isn’t my favourite Tarantino film but then a Tarantino film is a bit like pizza – even when it’s bad, it’s still really, really good.
3.5 stars (out of 5)