Django Unchained Review
2012-12-29, 7:51 p.m.
Here's the spoilery review of Django Unchained. Don't say I didn't warn you.
It probably wouldn't have occurred to me to want to see this one, except I saw the trailer and thought, "Heeeeeey, this looks surprisingly good." I see a Tarantino flick occasionally and pretty much enjoy them as long as I look away during the gross bits. And sure enough, I found it quite enjoyable. Who doesn't love a good roaring rampage of revenge? I do, I do! (See yesterday's entry.)
So Django is a slave being marched through the night by sellers when a German dentist rolls up in his little cart. He speaks very flowery and introduces himself all friendly-like to the sellers, saying he's looking for a fellow who used to be on a certain plantation that can identify certain people he's looking for. He offers to buy Django, but when the guys say no, the man--King Schultz-- quick-draw shoots one in the head and shoots the other's horse, pinning him under. (Note: no horses were harmed during the making of this movie, even though it sure looks like it in this scene. I think all other horses were not harmed in the plot after this?) While that guy screams his head off, Schultz throws him a fair price for Django, undoes his chains, has him take the coat off the dead guy, and gives some friendly advice to the remaining slaves: You can get this guy out from under the horse, or you can undo your chains with this key, shoot him with this guy, and take the money. Your choice!
I LOVE THIS GUY. Seriously, for a bounty hunting killer (which is why Schultz wanted Django), he's an adorable, sweet man who hates slavery and frees Django early on. Early on they roll into a town and Schultz takes Django into a bar for a drink. When the barkeep objects, Schultz encourages him to "call the sheriff, not the marshal." When the sheriff comes, Schultz plugs him. When the marshal comes, Schultz and Django emerge with hands up and Schultz coolly informs the marshal that their recent sheriff used to be a criminal and he's got the legal paperwork in his pocket. This is Schultz for you!
He's also a romantic. Django tells him that he has a wife, Broomhilda--look, I'm just gonna call her Hildy--who was brought up on a plantation owned by Germans and thus she speaks German. (Okay, that may sound implausible, but given the context of this story, it works.) Schultz tells Django the story of her German namesake and says he'll help Django get his wife back because as a German, he feels like he needs to help a real life Siegfried. Sooooooo cute. Django turns out to be a natural born shooter--mmm, coincidence. After a winter of training and ah, fundraising because who doesn't love killing evil white guys, they make the trip to Mississippi to track down who Hildy got sold to. This is, of course, Calvin Candie of the (no joke) Candieland plantation. Schulze comes up with a scheme that seems a little weird to me--they go in as men interested in ah, mandingo fighting since Candie is into that. Schultz is the money, Django is the freed black slaver/mandingo expert. He has to play that as quite the cold asshole, compared to Schultz's adorable warmness. Their goal is to offer some extremely ridiculous price for a man, then ask to throw in Hildy on top of that for a few hundred to camouflage their real interest. Heck, they even have that much money to pay the man honestly.
They eventually find Hildy--Schultz requests her so he can talk to someone in his native tongue--which rescues her from the "hotbox" she was being punished in. The scene where they're alone and talking in German just had me delighted with anticipation.
However. Things go wrong, because (a) Hildy ain't good at stonefaced acting, apparently, and (b) there's Stephen, Candie's extremely loyal, observant, asshole manservant. Seriously, this guy gave me the biggest oogy feelings in this movie, and let me tell you that THAT IS SAYING SOMETHING IN THIS MOVIE. Even worse than the scene where "phrenologist" Candie calmly cuts up the skull of some guy who raised him to demonstrate the dimples of servility in black heads. Anyway, he figures out their entire scheme through observation, tells Candie, and Candie gets very angry. Unfortunately, Schultz also gets very angry and can't hold it in, and....things go poorly.
I do kind of feel sorry for the actress playing Hildy, as she doesn't get much to do besides look pretty or tortured and hardly has any lines to boot. And when she does, they're in German. She's...The Girl motivation, what can you do.
I'll admit, the second half of the movie isn't as fun as the first. I laughed my head off throughout the first half, not so much the second. I did find all of the over-blood-splattered killings to be pretty funny/ridiculous, though. I don't know from gun calibers in 1858, but really, I doubt most people would splatter THAT MUCH BLOOD with every kill. It's really cartoony/comic-book-y death. I'd love to see how much money Tarantino spends on fake blood. I also got a big laugh at one person being shot from well, down and to the side suddenly and obviously being jerked away on cables out of frame as they got shot. Come oooooooon, this is a western, not Poltergeist.
There was one plot element I was sad about--I won't spoil it, but perhaps you guessed---but in the end, I guess I am okay with it. I wasn't totally crushed and hating the movie because it happened, somehow.
I did enjoy Django's final payback scene, especially in how he got that SOB Stephen. But yeah, Stephen does have a point in that how is a guy trained to be a bounty hunter going to make a living when there's inevitably going to be a bounty on him? (Assuming anyone got out alive to tell about it, at least. I hope not.) Hm, yeah, awkward. But good luck to you there, you two crazy troublemakers!
At any rate, I enjoyed it. It ain't for everyone (hence why I couldn't get anyone else i know to watch it, and didn't even bother asking), but if you like roaring rampages of revenge, it's up your alley.