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

Reviews
by The Playlist Staff
December 12, 2012 12:06 AM
69 Comments
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Django Unchained Leonardo DiCaprio Christoph Waltz Samuel L. Jackson

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.

Django Unchained Jamie Foxx Christoph Waltz

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 Unchained Jamie Foxx

‘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.

Django Unchained Jamie Foxx

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

“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

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69 Comments

  • EMNIS | February 15, 2013 3:13 AMReply

    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 | January 24, 2013 5:16 PMReply

    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 | January 19, 2013 9:44 AMReply

    Thanks Rodrigo. Seriously...I now feel less lonely.

  • ken | January 16, 2013 6:51 PMReply

    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 | January 13, 2013 12:10 PMReply

    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.

  • RC | January 14, 2013 11:58 AM

    Exactly! How the hell did he win a golden globe for best screenplay?

  • plaintalkinjane | December 28, 2012 1:33 PMReply

    "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 | December 27, 2012 3:12 PMReply

    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!"

  • ken | January 16, 2013 6:54 PM

    gotta agree...thanks for sharing.

  • Cyndi Simpson | December 26, 2012 11:27 PMReply

    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.

  • Thom Waters | December 31, 2012 10:26 PM

    You know, I was just thinking about this very thing; recalling the scene where Django's wife is pulled from the box she'd been sitting in apparently for days. I remember that her appearance was rather strangely chaste- she looked unbeaten, clean and was carried quickly out in a fetal position. If I remember correctly, the edit was very fast so as to not raise any questions about purposely exploiting her vulnerable nakedness- strange for a director so intent on the lurid exploitation of bloody violence at every turn. It got me thinking back to all of his other movies to recall how absolutely lacking they were in actual sex. The most time anyone spends in bed is the section in Pulp Fiction between Butch and his wife who basically frolic about after his fight.(It's also incredibly boring- but so are long stretches heralded as brilliant in so many of his movies). You're right; he's a typical American prude; afraid to honestly portray sex but is more than happy to substitute bloody violence instead. It has been the american aesthetic for decades. It's been said that the 3 American taboos are , sex, shit and death in our unwillingness to discuss, or honestly portray anything to do with them. Tarantino may think he deals with death but he doesn't. He deals in glorified violence which removes the human pathos from it- the sense of loss or grief. Ratcheting up the violence doesn't make it more "truthful" anymore than a porn movie's extreme close ups of penetration and cum are truly revealing about human sexuality and the emotions and interrelationships that accompany it.

  • Dave2 | December 30, 2012 8:46 PM

    1. The white man doesn't save the day, he acts as a mentor for the hero-in-training. Indeed, at the pivotal moment, that white man screws everything up, and the black hero has to deal with the consequences.

    2. Sexual violence is central to the story. Django is rescuing his wife 'Broomhilda' from sex slavery.

  • Franklin Graham | December 26, 2012 11:39 AMReply

    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 | December 25, 2012 3:44 PMReply

    This is a movie critic who is great.

  • Dan | December 22, 2012 2:18 PMReply

    "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

  • ken | January 16, 2013 6:58 PM

    dear mr. dan,
    i find your response quite undiscerning.

  • Mike Andresen | December 22, 2012 12:44 PMReply

    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

  • Eric Murphy | December 26, 2012 11:01 AM

    Why do you keep attending his movies if he hasn't made a good one since Jackie? Your "white guilt" comment tells me everything I need to know. You would have been much happier if the protagonist and antagonist had been reversed.

  • Stacy | December 22, 2012 4:01 AMReply

    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 | December 21, 2012 2:38 PMReply

    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 | December 21, 2012 2:15 PMReply

    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!

  • Eric Murphy | December 26, 2012 11:10 AM

    I could point to dozens of previous critiques to totally destroy your false narrative but I imagine honesty on these issues aren't important to you.

  • jose cardenas | December 18, 2012 2:24 PMReply

    fuck your review

  • Other Chris | December 15, 2012 8:37 PMReply

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

  • Eric Murphy | December 26, 2012 11:15 AM

    "Though it might just entertain the shit out of the less discerning." Usually a jab like that would expect jabs back but I see that we are dealing with a bunch of pansy critics who dislike criticism.

  • SMB | December 12, 2012 6:22 PMReply

    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 | December 12, 2012 5:19 PMReply

    "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 | December 12, 2012 5:15 PMReply

    "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 | December 12, 2012 5:15 PMReply

    "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.

  • ken | January 16, 2013 7:02 PM

    your comments about the homeless are very undiscerning.

    cockface.

  • Deini | December 12, 2012 4:39 PMReply

    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 | December 12, 2012 3:58 PMReply

    [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 | December 12, 2012 3:37 PMReply

    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 | December 12, 2012 3:20 PMReply

    "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 | December 12, 2012 2:04 PMReply

    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.

  • Christopher Bell | December 12, 2012 3:03 PM

    The Legend of Awful Stupid

  • fanboy much? | December 12, 2012 2:07 PM

    hilarious.

  • what she said | December 12, 2012 1:38 PMReply

    "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.

  • Double D | December 26, 2012 11:21 AM

    If he were a whore he'd have made more films that he has. He doesn't make films for you, he makes them for himself. Most of the anger toward this film is coming from people who would have preferred the slave masters to be the good guyss.

  • TarantinoFan | December 12, 2012 4:08 PM

    Where do idiots like you live? Because Ive never seen one.
    Im for more gun-control, so what? Even that is somehow Tarantinos fault? It just shows how far these people are willing to go with their hate of Tarantino.

  • TurdsAndWhey | December 12, 2012 10:00 AMReply

    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.

  • Alan | December 12, 2012 6:44 PM

    I am glad that you mentioned it, Rodrigo, 'cause that's the first thing I thought about when reading your review: "boring". Although I have only read the script (and, who knows, maybe Tarantino completely screwed the structure), bI thought this read as his most tight in terms of following a traditional three act structure. I honestly don't think that Rodrigo knows what a three act structure is.

  • Jason | December 12, 2012 3:11 PM

    RP's condecending review is really disappointing. Sorry Rod, but not every movie can be the next "Snow Buddies" which you gave 5 stars.

  • RP | December 12, 2012 12:59 PM

    You do realize I barely do any tweeting and most of it is in the hours of 7pm and 9pm est when im coming home and if you pay attention you'd realize it's often asking a lot of questions. Paint me as you like though, but like i'm essentially a boring dad and the opposite of hip.

  • Brendan | December 12, 2012 9:15 AMReply

    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 | December 12, 2012 7:48 AMReply

    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.

  • Alan | December 13, 2012 9:39 PM

    "Even without knowledge of a philosophical structure" ha, ha, ha ... oh wait, you're serious? There is nothing "philosophical" about the ideas that I presented: that's a completely different artistic approach. I was stressing the film's narrative and psychological (Jung, specifically) components. So, not only do you not understand the basics of story structure,. I explained clearly what the different stages were, but *sigh* I guess I have to explain AGAIN. The Dream Stage is where the hero assembles many of the components that he will need to achieve his goal: in TDKR, Bruce assembles a light alter ego (John Blake), his light father (Alfred), a light other half (initially Miranda) as well as the physical elements necessary for his quest (supplied by another light other half, Lucius Fox). It's stated so clearly that no amount of "hey but's that's like philosophical or something" stupidity can undercut the basic structure of the film's story. And, whoa, did you also say we completely bypassed the Frustration Stage? Really? This stage is about a character struggling, physically and psychologically, to overcome the frustration derived from his or her external or internal conflict: Alfred leaving Bruce, Selina betraying Batman, Bane injuring Bruce, Bane taking control of the city etc. are all apart of this stage, in which the hero is taken down a peg through some kind of hubris (in this instance, Bruce's feeling that he can come out of retirement without consequences). Try reading a book or something before calling someone a "pompous ass" because you don't understand story structure (or philosophy, too, as it turns out).

  • zatopek | December 13, 2012 12:08 PM

    "does it really work as a B-slasher film. On its own it feels like we're watching a parts from three different movies he was able to salvage."

    That's the thing. It's not supposed to be a straight up B-film homage like Rodriguez did. It's intentionally in two parts. It's deconstructing slasher film more than anything. That's probably why people seem to hate it. They're expecting something similar that Rodriguez did with his part of the Grindhouse. (And yes, I should've said post-Pulp Fiction, because Death Proof is better than Jackie Brown.)

  • Reilly | December 13, 2012 8:05 AM

    You'd have to be a pompous ass to believe this was all conveyed during the movie. Even without knowledge of a philosophical structure, TDKR was a flawed movie that was given a pass; which was my original argument. Where exactly do you see the city destroy itself ? There's no gridlock, trash, mass violence or people protesting for that matter. One scene immediately following the apparent uprising shows a vibrant city with no signs of destruction. I'll give cinematic license to healingBruce's back and leg but how does he magically reappears in Gotham, after it becomes an inaccessible. Catwoman somehow manages to find Batman at the precise moment he's about to be killed, she was nowhere near the area. There should always be plausible results of each visual action, which Nolan chooses to pretentiously ignore. In Nolan's Dark Knight Rises film by using your examples we're obviosly given the Anticipation stage but then bypass Dream and Frustration jumping directly into the Nightmare stage with a hint of Rebirth. Do you see the problem ? If were suppose to invest in this offscreen extreme crisis without experiencing the 'dream' or 'frustration' stage, what is the purpose of the movie. Overall its an outright failure and the worst film in Nolan's filmography.

  • Alan | December 13, 2012 5:01 AM

    No 'trickery', Reilly, I just know what a five act structure is, and TDKR follows it pretty closely: Anticipation Stage (the kingdom is built on a lie, the hero is inadequate in physical and emotional terms), Dream Stage (the hero commits himself to action, things seem to be going pretty well for Bruce), Frustration Stage (things go wrong for the hero, Bruce is locked up and has to watch his city destroy itself), Nightmare Stage (the hero faces a final moment of extreme crisis, Bruce learns Miranda's secret and appears to have lost) and Rebirth (the hero emerges triumphant and is more emotionally accessible, Bruce gives up his destructive persona and re-emerges as a normal person). Reilly, try learning the basic fundamentals of storytelling before you have to waste other people's time in correcting your ignorance.

  • Reilly | December 12, 2012 10:23 PM

    Alan - been tricked into thinking there's structure and meaning when it's all been a slight of hand. He allowed for numerous plot holes, sloppy editing and has become too reliable on the bait and switch ending routine, yet people like yourself keep defending it for what ? Because its dark, provides a false sense of reality. Tim Burtons films were by far darker and still more entertaining. None of these new films maintain any wonder on a second viewing and only hilight the glaring problems. If any other director put out Dark Knight Risee it would've been rightly panned.

    Zatopek- Jackie Brown was a self indulgent mess. Yes when he confines himself you end up with one long tasking scene of nonsensical dialogue. Its a great film like I mentioned but only in the Grindhouse experience does it really work as a B-slasher film. On its own it feels like we're watching a parts from three different movies he was able to salvage.

  • Alan | December 12, 2012 6:40 PM

    Reilly, Nolan's films follow a five-act structure, not a three act structure. But I doubt that you would know the difference.

  • zatopek | December 12, 2012 5:48 PM

    "When he does confine himself he ends up with Death Proof."

    Which means he should confine himself, instead of thinking everything he writes is genius. Death Proof is his best post-Jackie Brown film. Inglourious Basterds and Kill Bill are self-indulgent messes.

  • JP | December 12, 2012 7:47 AMReply

    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 | December 12, 2012 5:16 AMReply

    Henry Fonda, not Ford.

  • JD | December 12, 2012 4:24 AMReply

    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.

  • Meh | December 19, 2012 11:21 PM

    The Master didn't work. PTA’s technical skill was much in evidence, but the film suffers from a lack of considered ideas, and never manages to shape its stumbling around into either a compelling character portrait of any person in the film or into an affecting narrative. PTA is perfectly content to merely string along a series of scenes of Phoenix’s Freddie guffawing, slurring, mumbling, and generally indulging in asinine behavior (Is any veteran supposed to be inherently worthy of cinematic screentime, no matter how insipid?). The desultory annals of a semi-retarded World War II veteran, shot with care. If Django is worse, I'll eat my own asshole.

  • RP | December 12, 2012 8:39 AM

    I wouldn't say I preferred the Master, a movie I didn't totally love, but it was just an example of a film with lack of narrative that still worked. Comparing them 1 on 1 like that is unfair because they are apples to oranges big time.

  • TheoC | December 12, 2012 1:48 AMReply

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

  • frank smith | December 12, 2012 12:50 AMReply

    "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 | December 12, 2012 12:48 AMReply

    This emperor has no clothes.

  • Katie Walsh | December 12, 2012 12:25 AMReply

    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 | December 12, 2012 12:20 AMReply

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

  • jimmiescoffee | December 12, 2012 12:08 AMReply

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

  • laughing at fanboys | December 12, 2012 7:38 PM

    Tarantino fan is like desperate. Only Alison and this dick head didn't like it. EVERYONE, IT"S OK!!!! LOL.

  • Tarantinofan | December 12, 2012 4:16 PM

    What are you talking about? The reviews are great.
    Only this review and Alison Willmores(rated 6/10) are bad.

  • AS | December 12, 2012 1:23 AM

    I'm hearing great things from many sources. Excellent.

  • AS | December 12, 2012 1:22 AM

    I'm hearing great things from many sources. Excellent.

  • AS | December 12, 2012 1:22 AM

    I'm hearing great things from many sources. Excellent.

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