Review: 3 Different Opinions On The Good & The Bad Of Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained’

Review: 3 Different Opinions On The Good & The Bad Of Quentin Tarantino's 'Django Unchained'

Films by Quentin Tarantino aren’t exactly Halley’s Comet, but for a while there, they didn’t come as often as some filmgoers would have liked. And while the filmmaker seems to be back at his pace of delivering a film every two or three years, the arrival of a new Tarantino picture generally makes the cinema world sit up and take notice. And as always, opinions on his films vary wildly from film to film, from cinephile to cinephile.

As such we thought we’d try something a little different with three takes on “Django Unchained” from The Playlist staff that are generally pretty divergent. It’s not a completely comprehensive good, bad, and ugly breakdown on the three hour epic, but it’s close. So without further ado, reviews from reviewer Gabe Toro, podcast editor Erik McClanahan and Rodrigo Perez below.

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There are three movies that make up “Django Unchained.” All three are vital, alive, and further proof that Quentin Tarantino is one of the most distinct and relevant filmmakers working today. The first opens on a dusty road on the eve of the Civil War, as the avuncular Dr. Schultz (Christoph Waltz) claims chain gang slave Django (Jamie Foxx) by violently disposing of his two owners (one of them is James Remar, who crops up later in the second of these three films in a different role). After an extended visit to a small town, wherein Schultz upends their social order by teaming with his slave to remove a wanted man out of the sheriff’s office, “Django Unchained” has proven its prerogative in upsetting a certain status quo.

This subversion continues into a visit to the home of rich folk Big Daddy (Don Johnson), who hems and haws upon learning Django is a free man, and therefore deserving of a more elaborate hierarchal treatment from his own slaves. Schultz employs Django to spot his former slaveowners, wanted criminals according to the legal papers Schultz removes from his dandy coat pocket as if it were bottomless. Instead, an empowered Django attacks the three savages who caused him pain, and Tarantino allows him, and us, to revel in the moment when he grabs up a whip and lashes out at one of them with merciless vigor. Shot in slow motion, not very different from how we’ve seen this moment play out in historical dramas, Tarantino builds to the violence with his unbridled bloodlust on full display. At this moment, a stand-up-and-cheer sequence, we’re seeing Tarantino Unchained.

Establishing Django and Schultz as the meanest bounty hunters of the south, the picture then merges into its second installment. In search of Django’s bride Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), the duo find themselves at Candyland, the plantation owned by Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). Like the film, characters take the opportunity to play nice, adhering to the social strata of the time, forcing us to give up the more overt subversion of the first film in favor of pure genre immersion. Candyland is a place of sickening violence, as Candie hosts Mandingo brawls that allow for his black slaves to battle to the death. When one does not comply, he’s torn apart by dogs. Tarantino’s film is not as explicit as it can be, yet it still resonates when the realization sets in (a realization cinephile Tarantino knows all too well) that slavery is usually treated in cinema with kid gloves. A brief reference to “nigger holes” where dead slaves are stacked and discarded tells us all we need to know.

Candie’s largesse and Southern-gentleman values house a deep disregard for humanity. He is first and foremost a capitalist, of course (a point not lost on contemporary audiences, hopefully) but one who shows such open disdain towards his slaves that they are acknowledged only as property to be exchanged for cash in transactions. While he’s always had a jagged edge to his adult performances, DiCaprio’s casting here is not unlike Henry Fonda’s in “Once Upon A Time In The West,” a strong right turn into darkness compared to a career as a true-blue American leading man. DiCaprio lacks the raw talent to go full ham (or full H.A.M.) for a part like this, which means what we’re dealing with is not one of Tarantino’s more colorful, wacky bad guys. DiCaprio goes the other way, playing up the inhumanity within this man’s pragmaticism. Like Schultz and Django, we’re trapped in Candyland, forced to listen to Candie’s unpleasant dissertations on the slave trade and the accurate uses of slaves. Growing up as the scion to a rich family, this is all he knows, and DiCaprio captures this myopia to a stomach-churning degree. It’s very much the year’s most upsetting performance by a major movie star.

The third film, and jankiest by far, involves Django’s quest for revenge, and Tarantino’s desire to thumb his nose at the establishment. The bloodshed is comically messy, with squibs exploding as if they were stored in condoms, thrown by frat boys. There’s a little bit of farcical spoof humor in place as well, with Django’s strut now accompanied by contemporary soundtrack rhymes from Rick Ross, with the irreverent sass-talk of Samuel L. Jackson’s postmodern Sambo as Candie’s reliable assistant Stephen, clouding the audience’s sympathies. On its own, this third leg of “Django Unchained” is a blast, funny, fast and excessively violent, even if its entirely nonsensical. The verbal jousting between Django and Stephen (an overt Uncle Tom in every sense of the word — wonder what Quentin’s old friend Spike thinks) is a highlight, particularly with Foxx’s sneering, swaggy characterization versus Jackson’s wide-eyed anger; Jackson in particular hasn’t been this engaged in years, even if it’s under a thick coat of black makeup and fake jowls, choices of purposely questionable taste.

The question remains: what do these movies have to do with each other? Where is the similarity between the excessively cartoonish giant tooth that bounces on top of former dentist Schultz’s wagon, and Candie’s disquieting lecture on a black’s skull? Does a moment where KKK members argue over the size of hood eyeholes have any relation to the nasty brutality shown to Django’s one-note pursuit Broomhilda? And when Django teaches his horse to pimp walk (yes, this happens), it seems as if we’re a long ways from the upsetting shot of a battered Django peeling off his tattered winter rags, revealing a brutally-battered bare back. “Django Unchained” is an insane mess in several ways, showing one of our great filmmakers unfocused and chaotic, attempting racial and political insight while also satiating his own cinephila. A moment when Foxx’s Django crosses paths with a nameless man seems to prove the point: as servants hustle to clean up and dispose of the dead remains of a bloody, disturbing Mandingo fight, we learn our hero is face-to-face with Franco Nero, the original Django himself. The torch of cinema history is passed, and we’re meant to ignore the corpses lying right behind it all. [B] — Gabe Toro

A Quentin Taratino movie is an event. The director, now middle-aged and more than 20 years into his filmmaking career, is thinking about his legacy these days. He’s talked lately about hanging it up after ten films, hoping to get out before he loses touch and starts making “old, limp, flaccid-dick movies.” The manic, chatty writer/director believes that one terrible film would cost him three good ones, as far as his rating is concerned.

His latest (eighth, for those counting) film, “Django Unchained,” will do no harm to that rating. It’s funny as hell and full of glorious waves of ultra-violence, yet a little unwieldy. The misgivings I have about the final product never come close to sinking this ship. It probably won’t be the awards horse that “Inglourious Basterds” was, but who cares when you’re having this good a time at the cinema. This is the most flat-out entertaining film of 2012.

While it shares many elements with ‘Basterds’ – the period setting, anachronistic songs, approaching an historical taboo in a big genre adventure, a wide cast of characters and a literally explosive finale – ‘Django’ is more akin to the “Kill Bill” films, especially ‘Vol. 2’. ‘Basterds’ was a masterwork, something Tarantino was wrestling with for more than a decade, as any reader of Peter Biskind’s excellent “Down and Dirty Pictures” knows. After the box office failure and, in some circles, critical pummeling heaped on “Death Proof,” he had something to prove. He was hungry again, and the result was one of his best pictures to date, if not his best.

“Django Unchained” sees Tarantino taking his love of spaghetti westerns and putting it through his post-modern, meat grinder revisionist sensibility. What comes out – he’s calling it “a Southern” – is a blast to behold. For better or worse, this is what a follow up to a huge success looks like from Tarantino. It’s impressive how so many elements from Leone and Corbucci films fit so nicely into this pre-Civil War slavery epic. Though he’s dabbled in the genre before, especially in “Kill Bill: Vol. 2,” you can feel the excitement and pure nerd joy in every shot of ‘Django’. Some will call it self-indulgent masturbation, others will defend its epic epicness with nary a scruple. Neither is wrong. I for one am ecstatic mainstream American cinema is getting the shot in the arm it so badly needed this year, and right at the finish.

‘Django’ has issues. At times it’s blatantly obvious where significant trims could have been made to the bloated running time. I applaud the unconventional narrative, and all the fun, good stuff we get in it, but did we really need the multiple endings? Especially when there’s not much tension or surprise as to where things are going, unlike the batshit insane climax to ‘Basterds’. This is perhaps due to the loss of editor Sally Menke, one of Tarantino’s most important collaborators, who tragically died in 2010. In her place is Fred Raskin, who worked as assistant editor on both “Kill Bill” films and several Paul Thomas Anderson projects. As strong a force as Tarantino must be on set, it always seemed that Menke, like Thelma Schoonmaker to Martin Scorsese, was his perfect foil, keeping his indulgence mostly at bay.

The biggest surprise is the absence of a strong female character, which has been a strength of all Tarantino films save for “Reservoir Dogs.” Kerry Washington does fine work as Broomhilda, and thankfully her most difficult scenes are done as tastefully as possible while still remaining true to the setting and time, but her role amounts to little else than a damsel in distress. She’s Django’s princess, needing to be saved by her man. Yes, she attempts to escape her fate, but never pulls it off.

The four main leads, and many of the supporting players, do great work though. Christoph Waltz is wonderful, once again having a blast bringing Tarantino’s verbose script to life as the smartest character in the film. What a treat it is to see him play a good guy here. He’s just barely bested by Leonardo DiCaprio, who finds a perfect role in Calvin Candie, the bratty heir to a plantation (awesomely named Candie Land) who owns Broomhilda and thus is the object of Django’s vengeance. If this film wins an Oscar, it will be for DiCaprio’s performance. Samuel L. Jackson is also quite good, and very funny, in his role as Calvin’s long time servant.

As the film’s hero Django, Jamie Foxx is more subtle than one would think is necessary. His arc from uneducated slave in a chain gang to the fastest gun in the south is full of nuances, and he’s a badass in the many gunplay scenes. There are clear parallels to Django’s character and Tarantino’s career in the film industry. The story goes that Monte Hellman and Terry Gilliam were big supporters (they would be Dr. King Schultz in this scenario) of his “Reservoir Dogs” script at the Sundance Institute. And Tarantino took their guidance and learned quickly how to become a great filmmaker, much like Django’s rise.

“Django Unchained” is most successful as a kick ass western adventure tale (it’s actually much less a revenge story than was originally touted) that lays waste to other, statelier slave movies. “Roots” this is not, but we didn’t expected that from Tarantino. It’s one of the funniest films in his oeuvre. This writer laughed hysterically as Don Johnson’s gang of fools fumbled around and complained about their Klan hoods, to name but one memorable funny sequence.

Will Tarantino finish after making his tenth film, as he’s been saying? We hope not. Cinema is better off with him making movies, though we could do with him staying far away from acting (why he tried an Australian accent here is beyond us). As it stands right now, in this writer’s opinion, “Death Proof” still remains his worst movie, but none of his flicks are flaccid. He’s still one of the most exciting American filmmakers working today. [B+] – Erik McClanahan

Quentin Tarantino has said more than once in the last few years that if he retires, which seems like the prospective plan, he would like to eventually just write novels. And this writer would argue that the “Pulp Fiction” filmmaker is already doing so and then adapting them for the screen. Which brings us to his latest, the Antebellum spaghetti western/slave vengeance picture “Django Unchained,” which has the unstructured, long winded architecture and pace of a novel — or at least a novel that doesn’t have to concern itself with the format demands of a visual medium that lends itself to around a two hour experience. All to its own detriment.

As such, “Django Unchained” isn’t much of an adaptation for the screen as it is a completely faithful distended adaptation of a screenplay that reads better as a book. That’s not to say films must adhere to the three-act structure (“The Master” is a great example of bucking the design), but if you’re making an almost three hour film that certainly also feels like three hours, the rhythm and construct of fits and starts (dull and then exciting burts) followed by long passages of dialogue, could use a rethink.

“Django Unchained” has very little of a forward engine, the kind that propels most movies forward and creates momentum. It spends at least one leisurely hour of its running time setting up a discursive narrative — Jamie Foxx’s titular slave character is rescued by a Dr. Schultz, a bounty hunter played by Christoph Waltz, in exchange for helping him track down the Brittle Brothers (a trio of thuggish brothers that have a bounty on their head). This leads them to a plantation owned by Don Johnson, lots of flashbacks of slavery and lashings, and eventually lots of blood when the brothers are brutally and comically dispensed with. Six months later (as we enter the middle third of the movie), after the duo have become bounty hunting partners, the pair finally set off in search of their main goal — rescuing Djagno’s wife Broomhilda, a slaved played by Kerry Washington who has been sold to a nasty Mandingo baron and plantation owner Calvin Candie (played with delicious relish by Leonardo DiCaprio). And so it’s not until the point that the actual story begins.

“Django Unchained” also possess little suspense. Django and Schultz come to Candie’s plantation with a subterfuge of being novices who want to enter the Mandigo fighting game, but actually are looking for a way to fool Candie into selling Broomhilda. The two are welcomed with some traditional Southern hospitality, but soon, Candie’s ornery house slave Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson) discovers their plot with nothing more than an observational eye and a hunch. Suffice to say, Candie feels duped, gets very angry and then hurt feelings lead to violence. But even that violence is unnecessary. Without revealing too much, the faux climax in “Django Unchained,” which can possibly be described as part one of the three extended third act parts, doesn’t have stakes to sell the sizzle. The situations are resolved and all parties can leave peacefully, but essentially pride gets in the way. Which isn’t really much of a credible motivator to keep the story going on, but alas, it does. From there, “Django Unchained” keeps going and going…and going, with a meandering story of capture, freedom, revenge, revenge and more revenge.

Touted as a love story, the suggestion itself is a sentiment funnier than 90% of all the jokes in “Django Unchained” because its dispassionate approach has nary a feeling. And whoever described the film as an homage to “Blazing Saddles” over Twitter has apparently never seen a Mel Brooks film before. The cartoonish ultra violence in the film is especially twice removed. Buckets of blood fly fast and loose in the third act, but with no one to really care about or root for — not even Django who inadvertently becomes the least interesting character of all, yet leads the film. As such the film is especially empty.

There are things to like about “Django Unchained” if taken on their own merits. Leonardo DiCaprio makes for an especially malevolent villain and as the role takes him out of his usual comfort zone of “the moody protagonist,” he shines and you want him to continue down this unusual path. While Schultz is essentially a mild variation of Christoph Waltz’s Hans Landa character — an unnecessarily verbose and erudite German — the actor brings a likeable warmth to the role that goes beyond those obvious notions of Tarantino being on the other side of the camera, mouthing along with the words he clearly has fallen in love with. Jamie Foxx too is rather strong when he’s given something to do, but oddly, even though his character is the center of the film, he’s an afterthought in service of the more colorful DiCaprio and Waltz. Musically, the drama is also rather enjoyable and it’s easily the best use of music in a Tarantino film in some time. The anachronistic selections of songs by Rick Ross, John Legend, James Brown and 2Pac far more effective than the out-of-nowhere appearance of David Bowie in “Inglourious Basterds.”

But apart from some individual moments worth savoring, “Django Unchained” doesn’t coalesce or add up to much. While the film has a few moments of humor, generally courtesy of DiCaprio or Jackson, the film is nowhere as funny as it believes it is. And yes, with its casual pace and guffaw-worthy little jokes, the picture does have an almost disturbing air of self-satisfaction — the cherry of which on top is a Tarantino cameo, that much like the scene itself, is completely superfluous. Such is the problem with “Django Unchained,” a bloated, complacent narrative that saunters along at a delicate pace with scene after scene that, when everything is tallied all up, reveals that many of them simply don’t need to be there. If any other filmmaker in the world delivered this film to Harvey Weinstein, the shears would come out. Alas, Tarantino is apparently above the conventions of narrative, and audiences (and critics) tend to give him a big pass.

While Tarantino has called ‘Django’ a chance to hold up America’s ugly past up like a mirror, this is empty rhetoric and the picture has almost nothing of substance to say socially or politically about race or slavery other than it was unfortunate and atrocious — seemingly the only two comments the filmmaker can make (as he did with WWII). Ultimately, it all seems like an excuse for bloody revenge, superfluously flowery dialogue, homages to genres he loves and a cool song or two.

“Django Unchained” might be called a love story or a comedy, but it’s not particularly funny or moving and it’s terribly self-indulgent. Flamboyance and cartoonishness rule, there’s hardly a moment of genuine emotion, and most overtures in that direction are superficial. As a picture ostensibly about love, revenge and the ugliness of slavery, “Django Unchained” has almost zero subtext and is a largely soulless bloodbath, in which the history of pain and retribution is coupled carelessly with a cool soundtrack and some verbose dialogue. Though it might just entertain the shit out of the less discerning. [C-] – Rodrigo Perez

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Comments

ETaps

Couldn’t agree more

EMNIS

None of the critics talks about my favourite scene. Where the house fulls with employees and you expect to be a blood bath and instead Django surrenders making all the following sequence far more interesting.
About the third review and the haters i'd like to express my experience at the movies. I went to see this with my mother (60). When the movie ended we talk about some scenes we talk about dumas and the fact we was black. We talk about the "medical studies" that certified black people had a thing for summision (both things aren't mentioned in the reviews (??)) And we talk about slavery in general. Then we began to think about ALL the movies ever maid by hollywood that tried to cover up United States or even Inglorius Bastards that shows in a sence that it's ok to go to another country and kill the leaders before they make more evil. Therefor this movie was to me entretained- for the violence characters fun sence of irony- and also make me think about a lot of stuffs any other movie didnt. This was my experience and i think i couldn't have lived it with a lessviolent lesssuperficial movie. Profund characters and complicated plots maybe are overrated, i'm not saying we shouln't have movies like that i'm just saying maybe it's ok to see once in a while a QT movie.

Bristar

Thanks Rodrigo. Django opened last week in the UK and i haven't read a single bad word about it here. But your review articulates perfectly my own view.

Scott

Thanks Rodrigo. Seriously…I now feel less lonely.

ken

rodrigo perez, congratulations on a very apt and insightful review. in fact, i find that much of your criticisms of tarantino's latest effort can be applied to all or most of his films. well done.

Kelly Roman

This review sums up how I feel about the movie – and seems to be the only review in the world that doesn't fawn all over the movie. The scene that embodies all the flaws of the movie is the one where Dr. Schultz (illogically and out of character) decides to shoot Candie instead of letting Django leave safely with Broomhilda – he essentially sacrifices them for the sake of his own ego. Schultz = Tarantino.

plaintalkinjane

"Django Unchained also possess (sic) little suspense", from Rodrigo Perez's negative review, are the words of someone sitting through the movie without giving it a proper chance, because the scenes at Candieland were some of the most suspenseful I've experienced in a theater in recent memory. The whole review read like someone trying too hard to justify their dislike of the director.

Thom Waters

I've been looking for a review that dares to actually be critical of this movie which has been lauded far and wide as something breathtakingly original and so riotously entertaining that it was somehow beyond normal discussion about artistic achievement and/or relevance. I was lured into seeing this schlock-fest as a result of these reviews having long ago grown weary of QT's spaghetti blaxploitation grindhouse aesthetic which to me started looking suspiciously like a crutch around the time of the otherwise thoroughly enjoyable KILL Bill, but revealed itself to be a threadbare exercise in pure stylistic slumming in Deathproof. But Inglourious Basterds was the last straw for me, proving how empty and peurile his purposely unsubtle style-before-subtance approach had become. Purportedly a story about , (and named after), a group of jewish vigilante soldiers, it misses the boat entirely in that regard both in terms of story and character development. There is no backstory to any of these characters nor even screen time given to the inner workings of this group to get a sense of identity or purpose aside from Brad Pitt in extreme close up spouting lots of attitude, which for Tarantino is the same thing. I disliked the ending particularly with it's artsy movie house massacre/montage with the movie projected onto the smoke emanating from behind the screen as Hitler and his henchmen get gunned down where they sit.
When I heard about Django I was totally apprehensive, but given the filmmakers prodigious talent, (and self-regard), and those endless reviews, I went in hoping that just maybe he would finally combine his Grindhouse nouveau aesthetic with some actual storytelling and come up with something original, uplifting and even edifying. It took 15 minutes for my son and I to look at each other and go, "I don't know about this…". By the hour mark I was bored and looking at my watch as the mainly white audience roared with laughter at the sight of the bumbling posse of wannabe Klansmen struggling with their potato sack masks. As the inevitable bloodbath finally started to play itself out, almost an entire row of black audience members left in obvious disgust. Now the fact that I'm white perhaps I don't quite catch the zeitgeist of this particular revenge party, but tellingly as I was leaving, I turned to my other son and muttered , "That was f***ing terrible!" Looking up as she walked past with what I took to be her family, an elderly black woman in her 70's/late 60's replied, "I hear that!"

Cyndi Simpson

Thank you, Mr. Perez, for showing in excellent detail that we've been given the Emperor's New Clothes with this pointless, puerile movie. You are correct – there are no adult emotions in the movie. Oh….and once again, a white man saves the day for the black people. Without Dr. S, there would have been no Django. That's an old, sad and boring story.
And as usual, QT has no frame of reference for women at all. I begin to suspect he is a prude – a constipated prude. Oh, the bloody bodies fly, indeed, but one of the greatest horrors of American slavery was the sexual violence perpetrated on women, men and children. There is scarcely a hint of this in Django. Why? I suspect QT's own discomfort with all things sexual as well as his monumental inability to connect with genuine women characters in any way. By whitewashing that aspect of slavery, QT lies about slavery.
So, what was the point of this movie? Good luck trying to find one. It's a shame, because an excellent movie about the complex horror that was American slavery is crying to be made. Call Spike Lee. Hell, even Tyler Perry could do better. I don't think QT has a clue about slavery…. and no wonder. He gets a free pass for everything he does – to my complete mystification. Yes…….it did indeed entertain the shit out of the less discerning viewers at the screening I attended. So what……a video game could do that.

Franklin Graham

RP, why do you seem to make a habit of writing a review and placing lines of insults in there for those who disagree with you. This is the second review I have seen where you use terminology like, "Though it might just entertain the shit out of the less discerning." I'm curious as to your qualifications which lead you to be more discernible than an average movie goer? To level such a preemptive strike against those who would disagree seems very odd in a review. Why did the movie make you combative against those who may have enjoyed it?

Torgeir

This is a movie critic who is great.

Dan

"Though it might just entertain the shit out of the less discerning."
Excerpt from the final paragraph of your review of "Django Unchained"

"…“Hyde Park on Hudson” should strike a chord with lenient and undiscerning audiences…"
Excerpt from the final paragraph of your review of "Hyde Park on Hudson"

Dear Mr. Perez,
I have only read two of your critiques but they both end in essentially the same exact way. Buy a fucking thesaurus you pretentious asshole!
Sincerely,
Dan

Mike Andresen

You qt fanboys are unreal..anyone why would dare to dislike his movies, or mention the fact that he uses violence, not to make a point, but to simply servo his own ego – automatically gets trashed on as in ( they dont get it or they should wastch twilight )..here is the bottom line – The man hasnt made a good movie since Jackie Brown – He is the most overrated director working today – He is getting worse and worse with each movie – He is the definition of "style over substance ".

.In "inglorious bastards" he used the holocaust as a pretext for gore and sadism..In this debacle of a movie..He took it even further..He now uses hollywoods/liberals "white Guilt" to demonstrate the same point – His movie is unsophisticated and insencere..He manipulates horror ( the slave ages ) into cheap pornography, and silly sick revenge, with no deeper meaning behind it, other then to serve his overstuffed ago..

One of the worst movies of the year

Stacy

Django unchained supervising art director
David Klassen gets trial for sexual battery, libel
and intentional infliction of emotional distress
of Los Angeles Music Award winning transgender
singer Bralalalala. Too bad the industry is too
chauvinistic to report Klassen had his cross suit
for extortion thrown out by the court.

Movie_Waffler

Honest review too:

The story of 'Django Unchained' is paper thin, which would be fine if we had interesting characters rather than just the caricatures presented here. While Tarantino's recent films have been poor, they've contained moments that show his potential; the climactic fight of 'Kill Bill Part One', Kurt Russell's appearance in 'Death Proof' and the bar scene from 'Inglorious Bastards'. 'Django Unchained' contains absolutely nothing of note, at least not in a positive sense. There are some memorable moments but they stand out for all the wrong reasons; a punishingly unfunny and dragged out skit involving KKK costumes, the pilfering of famous Western soundtracks and a verging on minstrelism performance from Samuel L. Jackson in ridiculous make-up. The one positive is the gorgeous cinematography from Robert Richardson, shot on 35mm film. (Yes, film!) The movie doesn't deserve such stunning visuals.
Kevin Costner was originally cast but pulled out and it's easy to see why. He's a lover of the Western and no doubt wanted nothing to do with this travesty.

'Django Unchained' is to the Spaghetti Western what Rob Zombie's 'Halloween' remake is to the Slasher movie, a film made by someone who clearly loves the genre but is clueless as to how to express that passion.

If there's a worse American movie this year, I haven't seen it…
1/10

American Guns

At last, at long last; somebody in the media has the guts to call out Tarantino for the superficial filmmaker he is!!!!!

YES!!!!!!!!!!!

Compare this thrash to Taxidriver. He is a pimple. Homage Schomage, sick of him!

jose cardenas

fuck your review

Other Chris

Typical clusterfuck in the comment section. When will critics ever learn never to dislike something that you do?

SMB

I'm looking forward to the movie (I like most of QTs work), but I understand that there will be plenty of people who love it and plenty of people who hate it. Both are fine, as long as people make up their own mind about the film. QTs films tend to be divisive, and everybody has a right to form their own opinion. Oddly enough, most humans are complex enough to have different tastes in movies and still respect the tastes of others. As far as this review goes…

Hahahaha! Great review Perez! Honestly, what better way to entertain readers than to go out of your way to prove to everybody what a pretentious douch-bag you are. "It might just entertain the shit out of the less discerning!!!!" That's classic. Although I have to say, for a guy that claims to be "essentially a boring dad," I hope you raise your children to be less judgemental than you are. You'll forgive me, Your Highness, if I make up my own mind about this boring, unfunny, unmoving, terribly self-indulgent, superficial, soulless bloodbath of a movie. Thanks for the laugh Perez! Can't wait to see the film.

patrik

"Though it might just entertain the shit out of the less discerning."

Please Mayan gods, allow volcanic rocks to rain down upon Rodrigo Perez's Commodore 64 so that he can't pollute the blogosphere with more amateur film reviews in which he insults his readership.

patrik

"Though it might just entertain the shit out of the less discerning."

Why don't you stick to reviewing the movie, and not insulting your readership. Please life the flap in the refrigerator box you live in and give the first homeless person you see a blowjob, cockface.

patrik

"Though it might just entertain the shit out of the less discerning."

Why don't you stick to reviewing the movie, and not insulting your readership. Please life the flap in the refrigerator box you live in and give the first homeless person you see a blowjob, cockface.

Deini

Perez you pompous, so and so, allow me to impart some knowledge from the "less discerning". Trying to insult an thus bully moviegoers into siding with your obviously myopic view of film is as childish as the "I know you are but what am I" argument from the playground. Sometimes entertainment is simply that, and if I need genuine emotion I'll get it from more conventional sources, you know like "reality". If I, the descendant of slaves can find levity in this subject matter anyone can. Find another line of work chump. If you have any real talents to do so.

TarantinoFan

[C-] eh? Just shows what a genius you are.
Even Alison Willmore gave a better rating (6/10) than you (well, she gave Twilight the same rating).

To be fair, I havent seen the moie, but I read the script.
The thing is that I read from this review, its not that the movie is the problem, its Tarantinos style these people dont understand, or should I better say DONT WANT to understand.
People like you jsut dont understand that movies are still art (no matter how much Hollywood tries to make it a business). And it seems that even after 20 years there are still some people who dont wanna accept Tarantinos style.
You remind me of that women in Cannes, when "Pulp Fiction" won the palme d'or in 1994, and she screamed in outrage and disbelieve how this "trash" can win the highest honor.

uno mas

attacking the critic…but of course, don't discuss the salient points, issues raised as one might just see through the smoke and mirrors. Movie biz folks are typically not the sharpest knife in the drawer, unless of course one turns their back, it's just one of those reflex things that goes along w/ degrees of socio & psycho pathological narcissism. Do not…I repeat do not criticize the sleaze, the slithering snakes don't like that. It's all about hero worship and false Gods, got to keep the NRA purring along. Fans, trolls, producer types, agents, or any of those paid schmucks whose job it is to prop it up, keep that baby propped up!

Frankie Carmenjello

"setting up a discursive narrative"?
"it might just entertain the shit out of the less discerning"?
I didn't go to critic school, but ending a review with an open-ended insult has got to be a no-no. Especially from someone who has the critical imagination of an english professor in the 50s, with post-y words like "discursive" sprinkled in.

anonymous

Well I worried about the bad review til he mentioned The Master. The Master is an awful stupid film that no momentum and is boring. I guess Django is great.

what she said

"at least it's highbrow schlock" says one here in defense. Ha! That says it all, almost. Adolescent, white male retribution for? Not sure I even want to know the no doubt Freudian aspects of QT's psyche, though not sure he has one of his own as he borrows from the worst. I've already seen way more than I ever want to see or will see again of his schlock. KILL BILL a feminist picture? Ha! Bullshit. Recall a very renowned cinematographer in the early eighties, commenting on how Hollywood movies are full of retribution, that word signifies QT more than fascist, sexist, exploitative, hack, racist, etc. He only cares about box office & making the premiere at Cannes so he can flash the V sign to all his adoring hipsters who don't know film history before QT. He is a pretentious hack and a whore. We have enough violence don't ya think? Grow a pair and use the stage you have for giving something of value, rather than adding to the ills in our culture, country, youth, gun sales/lobby, nutcases, extremists, etc., or at least entertainment with some vision and quality, perhaps even a wee bit of sophisticated political, social conscience. But then you'd have to have more to bring to the table than working in a video store and having a case of arrested pubescence.

TurdsAndWhey

Is it any surprise that Rodrigo Perez ends his review on a snotty and pretentious note? The guy lives for this stuff, on here and on the Playlist Twitter account. He's the ultimate sneering hipster.

Brendan

Rodrigo, I was with you in this review — I thought it was well-reasoned and, while not horribly original (critics have said similar things about Tarantino since Pulp Fiction, and the bloated nature of his work was particularly and painfully evident in Jackie Brown), you bring up points that are nonetheless legitimate criticisms of Tarantino's work. But ending on a comment as snotty and pretentious as "Though it might just entertain the shit out of the less discerning" is an uncalled-for slap at Tarantino's fans and anyone who might happen to disagree with you about this film in particular. There's totally room for dislike, or even loathing, of Django Unchained — I'm reserving my judgment 'til I see it, though I'm still pretty stoked for it — but whatever one's opinion, I find it hard to believe that, mess or no mess, this film would be on the level of Expendables 2 or Transformers or some crap like that. "Less discerning" moviegoers go to see lowbrow schlock. If Django Unchained is indeed schlocky, I'm sure we can all agree that it's highbrow schlock. At least it has ambitions. Either way, that kind of swipe at fans is wholly unwarranted. Judge the film, for better or worse, based on its own merits. That's pretty basic criticism policy.

Reilly

Rodrigo's comment on lack of convetional narrative critical pass woud be better applied to Christopher Nolan's pretentious Dark Knight trilogy. For Tarantino it's more a choice of artistic style that better fits his scattershot scripts. When he does confine himself he ends up with Death Proof. While I wouldnt consider it his worst given it wasnt really meant as a stand alone, its definitely the most memorable of the Grindhouse experience; therein lies the problem. Being forced to stick to one style Tarantinos writing is lost in translation and his directorial limitations are exposed. There are a few directors where there is always some leeway but that's in exchange for a voice to emerge and doesnt require smoke and mirrors, to work unlike other questionable directors.

JP

This is hands down one of the stupidest lines I've ever read in a film review:
"…squibs exploding as if they were stored in condoms, thrown by frat boys."

What does that even mean? I feel like you're mocking someone but I'm not sure you even have an objective aside from sounding like a pompous dick.

Fonso

Henry Fonda, not Ford.

JD

The fact that Rodrigo Perez prefers The Master (That's not to say films must adhere to the three-act structure "The Master" is a great example of bucking the design), which I disliked quite a lot, to this film makes me want to see Django Unchained even more.

TheoC

Love that last review, not because I'm a generic hater, but because it's honest and well written. Nice work.

frank smith

"Though it might just entertain the shit out of the less discerning." What an arrogant review. YOU didn't like it while others (and no doubt the majority of reviewers) seem to be raving. It's an opinion, not fact.

QT is

This emperor has no clothes.

Katie Walsh

I thought the first and third sections were pretty glorious but the middle section could have been accomplished in 20 minutes vs. an hour. Agreed on the pacing issues (some too fast, some WAY too slow). Also, I wonder about QT's intentions… I understand why he made it so brutal (some of the the violence is stomach-turning) in order to pay off the end, but without anything substantive to say, I don't think he gets a free pass for all the issues he plays fast and loose with.

jimmiescoffee

2 more things. i love the triple review. and sally menke for sure.

jimmiescoffee

i am hearing bad things from many sources. not good.

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