Friday, 15 February 2013

Review: Django Unchained (second-pass)

World of Blackout 77-Word Film Review

Django Unchained Poster

Django Unchained - Second-pass Review (Spoilers)
Cert: 18 / 165 mins / Dir. Quentin Tarantino

You can read my first (mini) review of Django Unchained here.

Like any great journey, knowing the destination means you can take a bit more time to look around and enjoy the scenery. And what scenery. The things I loved about the film the first time I saw it were underlined with the next viewing. The jokes are sharper, the gunshots wetter, and Sam Jackson is even more jaw-dropping once you examine his performance. That an actor with Jackson's social conscience would not only take on the role of Stephen, but also embrace it so fully speaks volumes of the mutual trust and respect between him and Tarantino.

I still don't think it's QT's best work, and I do still think it's too long, but it'll definitely stand up to watching again. Let's face it, there a few film-makers today that could get this film made, let alone released on this scale. I, for one, am thankful.

But… if I had to pick faults with Django (and let's face it, you're not reading this for me to be blowing smoke up Quentin's arse, now are ya?), they'd be the same faults that have already been outlined by others…

• The main focus of the film is the relationship between Django and Schultz, and it's detailed and developed beautifully. Now, in the pivotal scene where Shultz tires of playing to Candie's tune and shoots him, not only does he inexplicably then stand and wait to be shot himself (in apparent defiance of the character we've seen shaped over the previous two hours), but he also passes the mantle of the plot to Django and his wife, Broomhilda. This is a relationship that's been described, hinted at and glimpsed, but not really shown to us. And as poorly defined as it is, the film kinda comes undone as Django has to do the heavy lifting for the final act. Jamie Foxx does well as part of the double-act that's been set up, but he's not strong enough to carry the film, and while the audience wants to see the story resolved there just isn't the charm without Waltz or DiCaprio on-screen.

• If the climax of the film had happened when Schultz and Candie faced down, the ending would have been much tighter, not only for the above reason, but also because we'd have had something approaching a normal QT runtime. There's nothing in that final act that couldn't have been comfortably condensed into earlier parts of the screenplay. And we'd also have been spared…

• Quentin, what accent were you trying to do, mate? It's Mississippi in 1885, you don't even need to do a ker-razy voice. Look, you can be Australian, South African or Cockney. Choose one.

• Christoph Waltz turns in another magnificent performance, but I can't help but feel he's a little too similar to Hans Landa from Inglourious. Tarantino penned the part specifically with Waltz in mind (and this is certainly a film where Quentin Gets What Quentin Wants), so I've no doubt he's playing it straight, but is the similarity the responsibility of the writer/director or the performer? In fact, Waltz's brand of Polite Menace™ is largely his main-turn from what I've seen. I am enjoying it, but I don't think he'll be able to coast on it for much longer, even with QT's patronage.

• As engaging and captivating as he is in Django, I just don't warm to Jamie Foxx and I don't know why. I sympathise with the character and want him to succeed, but I never actually like him, and I think that's down to Foxx, for some reason. Answers on a postcard to the usual address, please.

Bottom line: It's like Prometheus, The Dark Knight Rises and even Star Wars. I enjoyed the shit out of these films, but it doesn't mean there aren't bits that drive me mad.

Is the trailer representative of the film?

Did I laugh, cry, gasp and sigh when I was supposed to?

Does it achieve what it sets out to do?

Pay at the cinema, Rent on DVD or just wait for it to be on the telly?

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Will I watch it again?

Is there a Wilhelm Scream?

And because you won't be happy until I've given it a score...

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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