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'Django Unchained' Needed More Time; Review and Roundup

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood December 12, 2012 at 1:56PM

So far the critics are being kind to Quentin Tarantino's bloody Western-down-South, singing the praises of the film's stellar cast and its fierce yet disturbingly funny confrontation with the most shameful chapter of American history. Division comes concerning the film's length, with some enjoying the epic 165-minute runtime, and others finding it an overbloated self-indulgence. Review roundup below.
'Django Unchained'
'Django Unchained'


Quentin Tarantino's characters are often astonished to find themselves in his intricate universe of references. That's certainly true of Django (Jamie Foxx), a black slave in the antebellum South freed from bondage by German dentist-turned-bounty hunter Dr. King Schulz (Christoph Waltz) in the opening moments of "Django Unchained," Tarantino's latest erratically fun and uneven tribute to the movies he loves and the discursive writing style he adores even more. The filmmaker's seventh feature plays like looser, dust-caked sibling to "Inglorious Basterds," his last rambunctious attempt to rile up history with a rebellious sense of play. Just as he unearthed "the face of Jewish vengeance" in "Basterds," Tarantino relishes the opportunity to run wild with a symbol of black persecution until the idea loses momentum -- and then, true to form, he just keeps going.


"Django Unchained" is "Blazing Saddles" with a body count, a positively incendiary entertainment about America's greatest shame, the personal and social toll of slavery, and like Tarantino's last film, "Inglourious Basterds," this is a case of history being remixed in a way that makes more emotional sense to Tarantino as a storyteller.

Screen Crush:

His name is Django and as he’s quick to point out, the D is silent. It’s just about the only quiet part of Quentin Tarantino‘s ‘Django Unchained,’ a boisterous, bloody blaxploitation/Western hybrid. What else would you expect from Tarantino, the modern master of genre pastiche, flavorful dialogue, and grossly exaggerated violence? Whatever ‘Django”s issues -- and it has a couple -- failing to deliver on its promises isn’t one of them. If anything, the issue is the exact opposite.

Huffington Post:

“Django Unchained” just feels overly bloated at 2 hours and 45 minutes. Most specifically, again, when Django and Schultz are in the midst of their grand scheme to fool Candie, it just feels like wasted time watching a plan that we, as an audience, get the feeling isn't going to work anyway. Honestly, there's a tight 120-minute movie in there, somewhere… [Will you like “Django Unchained?”] Even while bloated, there's still more than enough good in this movie to warrant me answering "yes" to that question. So, yes, you will. It's worth seeing for the performances alone.

This article is related to: Reviews, Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino, Quentin Tarantino, Quentin Tarantino, Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.