Whether or not you are a fan of his work, whether you are immersed in his controversy, or if you have a strong hatred for the man, you cannot deny that Quentin Tarantino has released some of the most entertaining, although controversial, pieces of cinema for audiences to revel in.
Since his 1992 debut, Reservoir Dogs, he has never squandered an opportunity to be crowd pleasing, though provoking, and, yes, sometimes unnecessarily violent. And with his latest venture, Django Unchained, he has not disappointed on of these levels.
The story centres around black slave Django (Jamie Foxx), as he travels with the dentist-turned-bounty-hunter Doctor Schultz (Christoph Waltz), killing wanted felons. As the story unfolds, Django and Schultz then venture to find Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), Django’s wife, to free her from her captor, Calvin Candle (Leonardo DiCaprio). It is a tale of freedom and revenge, which so greatly blends action-packed violence, comedy, and some buddy-love scenes to rival the Lethal Weapon franchise, all compliment the reasons why Django Unchained is nominated for best film at this year’s academy awards.
…a tame venture in comparison…
For those out there who still believe that Tarantino is excessively violent, and unnecessarily over the top, it seems fair to say that Django Unchained doesn’t exactly do anything to defer that opinion. Nonetheless, the “ultra-violence” that is seen here has all been previously shown in less-criticised films such as Die Hard 2, The Quick and the Dead, and even with some aspects of Home Alone 2. When looking at moments such as the scalping scenes in Inglourious Basterds, or ‘that scene’ from Pulp Fiction, this was quite a tame venture in comparison. It has some excessive moments, but nothing as groundbreaking as he has done in the past. Does this mean it loses calibre as an overall piece? Of course not!
However, if there were one criticism of the overall piece, it would be that it is not “Tarantino” enough. Yes, there are enough spaghetti-western styled zooms, soundtrack references and flickers of his standard boyish charm – such as using American “street-talk” in the subtitles of a German spoken scene – which all act as a constant reminder that it is his homage to cinema we are watching. But too much of the film was dictated by Foxx and Waltz’s relationship, not enough on the actual revenge aspect that the film’s trailer represents. Whereas the Kill Bill series was very straightforward in its actions, utilising flashbacks and cutaways to add story, Django used them to show a character change that was not expected. This was not necessarily a bad thing, in fact it added a refreshing twist to Tarantino’s normality, but it was not in keeping with the film’s expressed intentions.
For anybody that is not aware, Twelve Years a Slave is due for release later this year, a film about a man sold into slavery in the 1800’s. Directed by Steve McQueen (Shame), it is sure to be a slow, dreary, honest piece of cinema, which will delight critics with long takes and little action. If that sounds like something up your alley, then I highly recommend avoiding Django Unchained. But if it is all-out entertainment that you desire, then you should spare three hours of your time, sit down, and enjoy escapism on one of the highest standards.