Tarantino coasts with the dull 'Django Unchained'
R for strong graphic violence throughout, a vicious fight, language and some nudity; ** (out of four)
Bullets, bullwhips and beatings produce slo-mo geysers of blood. Pistoleros launch into soliloquies on slavery and the German Siegfried myth.
“Django Unchained” is set in Quentin Tarantino's pre-Civil War South. Another indulgent movie from the cinema's reigning junk-genre junkie, “Django” mashes together 1960s Italian “Spaghetti Westerns” and '70s American “Blacksploitation” pictures.
Hey, he got away with a fantastical World War II Holocaust-revenge picture (“Inglourious Basterds”). Why not a “revenge for slavery” romp?
Django is a slave turned bounty hunter, a black man who gets to “kill white folks, and they pay you for it.” The film features a couple of Oscar winners — Jamie Foxx in the title role, and Christoph Walz, who won his statuette for “Inglourious.”
The players are in fine form. But the movie is a hit-and-miss affair, at times an amusing reimagining of history, more often a blood-spattered bore.
It ambles between “the cool parts” — over-the-top shootouts. But the renowned witty Tarantino monologues that spark the interludes between shootouts are weak, the connecting threads scanty.
Waltz has a grand time playing a German dentist traveling the South in a more lucrative line of work. He's a bounty hunter, who needs Django to identify some killers. And when Dr. Schultz can't talk the hardcases transporting Django into selling him, he shoots them.
Django is given his freedom, a horse and a gun. He'll help with this hunt, and then set out in search of his wife (Kerry Washington), who was sold off to a distant plantation. This salt-and-pepper team hustles, insults and shoots their way through the Old South as if it's the Old West.
Don Johnson leads a lynch mob, which includes Jonah Hill. Leonardo DiCaprio smacks his villainous lips as the smart, hypocritical Mississippi monster they must outfox and outgun to complete Django's quest.
The historical bastardization includes pre-Civil War characters seen in faded Confederate uniforms, and dynamite, that talisman of every Z-grade Western, shows up nine years before it was patented. Some scenes convey Tarantino-esque tension. But his unwillingness to trim anything slows the film to a crawl.
• Wide release
Roger Moore is a movie critic for McClatchy-Tribune News Service.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Small Pittsburgh theaters are big hits with movie-theme parties
- ‘Ghostbusters’ still ‘makes you happy,’ director says
- Review: ‘November Man’ is low quality with a high body count
- McCandless Cinemark set to open Sept. 19
- Pittsburgh-shot ‘The Last Witch Hunter’ seeks extras