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
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?
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.
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.