Tarentino's Mindless Violence Crushes Django Unchained

By Bill Russo

retired New England Newspaper Editor & Broadcaster


MY RATING SYSTEM:

One Thumb: The Very Best - On a Par with Citizen Kane, The Maltese Falcon, Star Wars

Two Thumbs: Outstanding - Ranks with High Noon, the Breakfast Club, Back to the Future

Three Thumbs: Good - Reaches the level of Batman, Footloose, the original Robocop.

Four Thumbs: Shaky - Bombs like Larry the Cable Guy, White Chicks, or 88 Minutes

Five Thumbs: ALL THUMBS! - duds like Gigli, Battlefield Earth, Glitter and "The Room" which has been called the "Citizen Kane" of bad movies!

One thumb is best. A rating of 5 – means the film is “ALL THUMBS”

=======================================

The BR rating for DJANGO UNCHAINED: 3 Thumbs

=======================================

Give Your Thumbs for Django? 5 is "All Thumbs" - one is Best

4 out of 5 stars from 2 ratings of 3T

Christopher Waltz is outstanding as Dr. King Schultz

Why did I wait some 24 months to rate this? It is simple really. Of the $162 million the film grossed in the U.S. - zero dollars came from me. I did not want to see it on the 'big screen' at the 'big price'.


Now that it is on DVD, Amazon, and getting ready for a Netflix run; it is the right time for me to watch it.


Watch it I did, though it took some effort. Not in the beginning. The movie starts off just fine. We meet Dr. King Schultz, played by largely unknown 57 year old Austrian actor Christoper Waltz. That's his real name and yes he is from Vienna and yes he did waltz to the Oscars where he won “Best Supporting Actor” for his work.


The film also won the “Best Original Screenplay”.


Location still taken from Dec. 25th shooting

Getting back to the story.

We meet the jaunty, irrepressible dentist, Dr. King Schultz riding along in the deep South in the 1850s, atop a small wagon which is crowned by a soccer ball sized plaster of paris tooth on a spring.

We soon learn that the good Doctor has not practiced his trade for many years and when we see how fast he is with a six gun we understand why.

I wondered why he was riding in his teenie, slow wagon when it was obvious he had become an adept gunslinger. Doing some research I learned, that Waltz had fallen from a horse in the early shooting and suffered a broken hip.

So for the initial scenes, he was unable to ride a horse. Director Quentin Tarantino cleverly came up with the idea of the wagon. Waltz's co-star Jamie Foxx gifted him with a saddle, complete with a seat belt.


The plot is set just before the start of the civil war. Feelings of anti slavery were on the rise; but in the deep South a man like the German Dr. King Schultz was rare. Schultz had become a successful bounty hunter. Ruthless and cold, he could kill a wanted man in front of his young son - yet could not understand why one person could 'own' another – or even want to.


In some of the best scenes of the film Schultz liberates Django (Jamie Foxx) and teaches him the bounty hunting trade. A deft student, Django is soon promoted to partner. The pair decide to Bounty Hunt for the winter, and then to begin a quest in the spring to rescue Django's wife who is enslaved by cruel slave owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) who named his plantation "Candy Land".

Please Rate Django

How Many Thumbs Would You Give Django?

See results without voting

Where the film fails

And there the film falls down faster than a horse trying to gallop through a salt draw in a flash flood.

Tarantino turns what had been an engaging plot into an attempt to 'out gore' all of the bloodiest works of cinematic history.

Trying to combine Pacino's Scarface with a compilation of every spaghetti western ever made, the final 60 minutes of the film becomes little more than an angry, revenge-blinded Jamie Foxx gunning down every slaver in sight and site.

,

The violence was excessive and non stop. There was so much of it, it quickly became boring. Perhaps this was Tarantino's intention.


For me the movie failed because I was unable to suspend my disbelief. In 1812, the Ancient Mariner's author, Samuel T. Coloridge, laid down the challenge for all writers when he said, “ If a writer could infuse a "human interest and a semblance of truth" into a fantastic tale, the reader would suspend judgement concerning the implausibility of the narrative".


The suspension test is an individual thing. I was unable to suspend, but you may be able to do so, and if so; you will probably think Django a much better film than I do.


Another irritating thing about the movie, is that Director Tarantino thinks he is a disc jockey. He inserts obtrusive songs randomly which interfere with the flow of the story.


Other than “I giorni del'ira (Days of Wrath) from the eponymous 1960's Lee Van Cleef film and Jim Croce's “I Got A Name” - the music reminds me of a crowded super market where an enormous woman in an 800 pound motorized handi-capped shopping cart is playing chicken with everyone else in the aisle. My sympathies are always with handicapped people but having almost been hit by such a person more than once; when I see one, I run the other way! Quentin's over-amped soundtrack had the same effect.


Jamie Looked the Part of a Gunslinger

Jamie Foxx - 3 Thumbs: same as the film

Jamie Foxx was adequate as Django - but no more than that. He read his lines with conviction, squinted properly, and conveyed the anger of his character. But he was unable to fully sell the part.

First choice Will Smith dropped out in the mistaken belief that the eponymous Django was not the lead role. Bad choice for Will. His likeable personna, shown so well in the MIB franchise, would have helped to bring more credibility to the role of Django.

Foxx was a bit too wooden. But I will give him props for horsemanship and even more for using his own horse in the film! I probably should not be critical of Jamie Foxx for being too stiff... that never seemed to hurt Clint Eastwood.

Stellar Performance by Samuel L.

Summing Up

Most of the cast had little to do and was given scant and bland dialogue. The exceptions are the aforementioned Waltz and Foxx ; plus Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson.


DiCaprio was quite good as the despicable plantation owner Calvin Candie.


Samuel L. Jackson was BRILLIANT as Stephen, Calvin Candie's acid tongued head houseman.

Eerily credible, he portrayed Stephen as a fierce, loyal aide to Candie; who in many situations had more power in the household than even Candie himself.


As with all Tarantino films, there is much inside humor. That's part of the problem. Tarantino is so eager to be 'hip, flip and inside' that he leaves most of us outside. And if I had been watching this film in a theater; outside is where I would have retreated during the anti-climactic climax.

That said. Django is worth a watch. The setting, the costumes, and some of the acting make it better than about 65 per cent of everything else out there. Hence......Three Thumbs to Django Unchained.

More by this Author


Comments 13 comments

WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

We had friends who saw it and told us not to waste our money. They too said that it began well, but later became a pointless bloodbath. However, that's typical Tarantino .


Billrrrr profile image

Billrrrr 2 years ago from Cape Cod Author

Thanks Will. The late Roger Ebert raved about this film, so I was a bit reluctant to give my slant on it. But hey, we Western guys (me West Dennis - You Arizona) have to have the courage of our convictions, yes?

Thanks for the comment. I will be over to your spread later on today 'cause I need of couple of horses shoed and I love to hear a story while I'm waiting.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Hi Bill,

Not all of my scribblings are westerns. Try 'The Tourist' or ' Rebirth'.


Billrrrr profile image

Billrrrr 2 years ago from Cape Cod Author

I will be checking them out tonight. Thanks


Ty Tayzlor profile image

Ty Tayzlor 2 years ago from Anywhere

This is one of my favorite Tarantino films. When he and Christophe Waltz collaborate, they create memorable characters that live on in film history. For me Waltz out did himself as Dr. King Schultz and he deserved the Oscar for best supporting actor. The story itself is original and great. Tarantino's next project "The Hateful Eight" is supposed to be set in that same universe so that will be something to look into.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

BTW, Bill, we will be watching it, based on your review.


Billrrrr profile image

Billrrrr 2 years ago from Cape Cod Author

Thanks Will. Like you, I appreciate the atmosphere of this genre. Western characters as created by Louis Lamour, Zane Grey, Max Brand and yourself; are to me the most colorful and memorable figures of literature. This genre from the 1800s up until the 1970s was among the most popular of all writing; but readership has sunk in recent decades. Writers like you will help turn the tide. Keep up the great work.

I had to retype this comment because I had a typo; saying that the genre was popular from the 1800s to the 1870's. Of course I meant the 1970s. I believe the genre is still popular but not wildly so, as it was in the 1950s and 60s.

Hide

Status: Visible.

ip: 50.163.113.181


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 2 years ago

I did see Django, but I can't remember much of it. It is suppose to start slowly and build in interest and intensity and Django to me was the oposite.

Voted your hub up, Interesting and shared.


DealForALiving profile image

DealForALiving 2 years ago from Earth

Thanks for the review. Django was a big letdown, and nowhere near Pulp Fiction or Kill Bill.


Billrrrr profile image

Billrrrr 2 years ago from Cape Cod Author

Thanks for the comment Shyron. I think your assessment is correct. Tarantino's torrential violence turned what could have been a very good film into a very average one at best.


Billrrrr profile image

Billrrrr 2 years ago from Cape Cod Author

Well put Deal. I believe you are spot on.


midget38 profile image

midget38 2 years ago from Singapore

Now I will get my hubby the movie buff to watch this!


Billrrrr profile image

Billrrrr 2 years ago from Cape Cod Author

Thanks for checking in midget38. The price tag of the film was $100 million. It grossed $162 million in the U.S.; and added another $262 million world wide. The final tally of about $425 million was high enough to land it at the number 17 spot of the Biggest Box Office hits of 2012. Marvel's the Avengers was number one with a gross of $1.5 Billion.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working