21st Century Django
Having killed one man and left the other pinned under his dead horse German dentist turned bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) sets slave Django (Jamie Foxx) free to help him track down some bounties he is after. In return for Django's help Schultz teaches him how to be a bounty hunter with Django on a mission to find plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) as his plantation is where his wife Broomhilda von Shaft (Kerry Washington) was sent following a slave auction.
I have a love hate relationship when it comes to Quentin Tarantino's movies as there is no denying he is a craftsman who has such a knowledge of cinema it is staggering. The trouble is that when it comes to putting that passion and knowledge in to his movies he needs to learn that less is some times more because sadly so many times his cramming in of one more cinematic reference is too much even for the most ardent movie fan. And that for me is the underlying problem with "Django Unchained"; Tarantino doesn't know when enough is enough almost flooding the movie with his set piece ideas.
It is the set pieces combined with the dialogue which makes "Django Unchained", which kind of explains Tarantino's lack of self censor with far too many amusing scenes to mention. But there is a matter of fact nature to so much of the comedy such as when Schultz and Django bringing in a load of dead bodies and the sheriff is matter of fact about them and the fact he has cake inside. There is also a lot of great dialogue and when you have a plantation owner by the name of Candie it is no surprise that there is a Candie Land joke in there. And I could go on because the comedy runs thick and fast and most of the time is funny.
The reason why the comedy is so good is down to Christopher Waltz and Tarantino owes him so much for his performance in this movie. It is Waltz's quietly matter of fact performance alongside some comical mannerisms as Schultz which constantly makes you laugh. Yes Tarantino has typical attracted a lot of talent to the movie and the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and Jamie Foxx deliver entertaining performances whilst cameos such as that of original Django Franco Nero add some thing but without Waltz this movie would have struggled.
Now I have gone on about how entertaining "Django Unchained" is but it is in fairness more than entertainment and in-between the humour there is the representation of slavery and the horrific human humiliation which went on. It is when you stop to think about some of the more graphic scenes that the movie starts to have a secondary impact of what it was like and in truth probably a whole lot worse in reality.
What this all boils down to is that if only Quentin Tarantino could curb his enthusiasm then "Django Unchained" would have been a great movie. Instead this highly entertaining and at times seriously unsettling movie ends up out staying its welcome as far too often it becomes a showcase of Tarantino's knowledge of cinema than a story driven movie.