Quentin Tarantino’s latest highly-discussed ultra-violet look at slavery and redemption, Django Unchained, has finally made it to Blu-Ray. Django is easily Tarantino’s best work since the Jackie Brown/Pulp Fiction days, effortlessly blending his unique abilities both as a writer and director. It’s funny, violent, scary and epic all wrapped into one, thanks to Tarantino’s clever script and astoundingly bloody shootouts. Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio all deliver Oscar-worthy performances that’ll have you grasping onto each and every line spoken. Simply put, Django Unchained is the best film of 2012.
Django (Jamie Foxx) is a slave. In between transportation he runs into Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), a bounty hunter that’s looking for men that Django just so happens to know. He offers Django his freedom in exchange for his help and together the two become a deadly team of bounty hunters. They track down various men and soon Django and Schultz become partners, working alongside each other, training and learning as they move onto their next bounty.
Their quest eventually leads them to Candyland — a slave plantation ran by the cruel and detestable Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), which is where Django’s wife is. The two come up with a plan to free Django’s wife, but they soon realize that leaving Candyland won’t be as easy as they thought.
Quentin Tarantino’s latest film is a blood-soaked revenge flick unlike anything before it. The director has successfully fused the Western genre with his witty dialogue and fast-paced storytelling for a film that can only be classified as a Southern. Django Unchained is two parts classic Tarantino, by way of characters and script and one part old-fashioned revenge, by way of violent shootouts. I’ve never seen so much blood get dispersed on-screen before, yet Tarantino almost always knows how to shoot the film without losing focus on the story.
Parts of Django will have you filling with rage over America’s dark history with racism, while other parts will have you cheering for Django and Schultz as they serve up death to those that deserve it the most. Tarantino wisely shoots the film with his trademark comedy and cleverness, while also maintaining a serious tone of drama and emotion. This is all blended together with an interesting choice of songs for the soundtrack and loads and loads of blood and violence, done with practical effects opposed to CGI.
But a film is nothing without its actors and luckily for Tarantino he’s managed to round up an entire crew of Oscar-caliber performers. Jamie Foxx gives Django a much-needed dose of cold reality, while also becoming a larger-than-life superhero of sorts, willing to do what needs to be done, despite his disadvantages. Foxx keeps Django’s emotions mostly at bay, but that doesn’t mean that the character is without struggle. The reveal process for Django is slow, but it boils over soon enough and allows for a character that’s layered with detail, yet always fun to watch.
Christoph Waltz continues to deliver his best work when in the hands of Tarantino. Schultz is much more likable than his last outing with Tarantino, but still very restraint and clever. He’s smart and incredibly understanding, yet almost always a riot in how he words just about every single sentence. Waltz shows great strength as an actor being able to hold his own when up against the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson.
He also shares amazing chemistry with Foxx. Together they make for a classic pairing that’s almost as memorable as Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta from Pulp Fiction.
Leonardo DiCaprio has been trying to work Tarantino for years and I’m certainly glad that Django ended up being the project that they both decided on. Calvin Candie is one of the most unlikable characters ever to grace the screen, yet Leo and Tarantino make him explode with a particular amount of energy and zeal that makes him naturally interesting and someone worth watching, even if you know the outcome of any given scene is probably going to be grim for whoever is sitting opposite of Candie.
All of the characters blend well with Tarantino’s world, which is always flipping itself upside down on the viewer, making for a film that always feels alive and beating.
Tarantino has been known to make long films, yet Django Unchained feels like something that could go on forever. The film does suffer from a more relaxed style of editing towards the climaxing act, but aside from that it’s mostly a rock solid effort by the director that shines above most of his other work.
Tarantino’s latest comes to Blu-Ray with a 1080p video transfer that’s loaded with a variety of warm colors. Django Unchained might be Tarantino’s nicest-looking film yet, but despite its strong array of colors it does come up a bit short when compared to other recent titles. There’s a general softness to the film that cripples some of the film’s detail and while I believe that natural glow is somewhat intentional I also think that certain areas of the film could have looked slightly stronger. Still, this is a beautiful transfer that holds up incredibly well.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is cleanly presented, with dialogue being the main focus of attention. The action kicks into high gear when needed on the surround channels, but most of this film can be highlighted on the main channels, which is where most of the talking and general ambiance is experienced.
The biggest downfall of this entire combo pack is the lack of extensive bonus material. Here’s a short list of what is all included:
- Remembering J. Michael Riva: The Production Design of Django Unchained (HD)
- Reimagining The Spaghetti Western: The Horses and Stunts of Django Unchained (HD)
- The Costume Designs of Sharon Davis (HD)
- Tarantino XX Blu-Ray Collection Promo (HD)
- Django Unchained Soundtrack Promo (HD)
- DVD Copy
- Digital Copy
- UltraViolet Digital Copy
Django Unchained just might be one of my personal favorite Tarantino films when leaving out Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs. His ability to create such dimensional characters within such a grand setting is beyond impressive. Django doesn’t just feature one strong performance, but instead a half dozen. Every single character is memorable and Tarantino takes advantage of that fact and plays up each and every scene to the highest amount of intensity.
The high use of squibs for the bloody shootouts only makes for better action that reflects on the filmmakers love of practical effects when making movies, while also playing up to the Western standard.
People have claimed to be offended by Tarantino’s depiction of racism and I just don’t get it. He handles it with maturity and understanding, simply showing us just how horrible it all is. Does he over-play it a little bit? Yes, but he does it with an understanding that never reaches out past its welcome. There are scenes in Django that make you want to sit in shame, knowing how bad people were treated during these times and then there are scenes that will have you standing and cheering as Django and Schultz serve up revenge to those that deserve it the most.
It’s a balancing act that Tarantino plays perfectly and for that Django Unchained is the standout best picture of 2012 that belongs in the collection of every movie-lover out there. The Blu-Ray isn’t as padded as it should be, but the film alone is worth the money.