It’s no secret he’s in love with westerns. You can see it in nearly all of his films from “Reservoir Dogs” to “Inglourious Basterds.”
So, a year ago, when he announced he’s finally going to make one, no one was surprised, and everyone was excited.
And, of course, it wasn’t going to be your run-of-the-mill, cowboy shoot ’em up.
“Django Unchained” is about a slave, Django (the ‘D’ is silent), played with quiet contempt by Jaime Foxx, who gets recruited by dentist-turned-bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz, portrayed by Christoph Waltz, who broke out in Tarantino’s WWII epic “Inglourious Basterds” as the Jew hunter Hans Landa.
Dr. King needs Django to help him on his latest bounty, because he’s actually seen the Brittle brothers and, in turn, will free Django for his services.
And the first time a gun goes off and hits a slave owner in the head, unleashing a fountain of gore and blood, you realize it’s a Tarantino movie.
Nearly every gunshot in the film is an explosion of gore and blood and becomes very humorous as the movie continues.
And the movie is very funny, in a ‘Did I just see that’ kind of way.
It’s very reminiscent of the Blaxploitation movies of the ’70s mixed with classic spaghetti westerns from Spain.
And when Django makes his first kill, Dr. King realizes he’s a natural killer and offers to help him track down his slave wife and free her, too.
So we get to see the two become friends and partners as they make their way across the United States, making money hunting down baddies before heading off to rescue the maiden.
While it’s technically a western, it takes place nearly all in the South before the start of the Civil War.
In the film, we visit plantations and get a cruel sense of the way the times once were.
And this may offend some people a great deal.
Don Johnson (yes, that Don Johnson from “Miami Vice” fame) plays the first plantation owner we run into, and it’s a comical encounter to a point, until you start to think that it’s probably how slave owners actually were.
But it’s an empowerment movie. It’s how one man overcomes the shackles of his life and rises above oppression to save the woman he loves no matter at what cost.
And then we run into Leonardo DiCaprio’s Calvin Candie, who runs Candie Land, the largest plantation in the South.
It’s one of DiCaprio’s greatest roles, and he takes it and has a blast playing a malicious, evil bastard of a man.
And we’re also introduced to Samuel Jackson’s Stephen, Candie’s house servant, who, we find out, basically raised him after the death of his family.
Stephen is brash and spouts obscenities left and right and is another entertaining addition to the already superstar cast.
The movie is violent. But anyone familiar with Tarantino’s work already expects that.
And, while slavery is never joked about or played for laughs, the film is quite comical.
Actually, slavery depicted in the film is quite harsh and has probably never been shown the way it is in this film.
Harsh, disgusting and despicable.
But it gives Django more of a reason for vengeance.
Foxx is fantastic in the movie. It’s quite possibly one of his best roles to date behind his portrayal of Ray Charles in “Ray.”
Yet, it would’ve have been interesting to see what Tarantino’s first choice to play Django, Will Smith, would’ve done with the role.
Waltz’s Dr. King is very fun and funny and matter of fact. He’s disgusted with slavery, but is basically helpless to do anything about it until Django comes into the picture.
The movie has racial undertones but is in no way racist.
And yes, it’s tongue in cheek at some parts, like Dr. King freeing the slave Django. An obvious nod to civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King.
The movie’s bound to offend some members of the audience, but the packed theater attendees I watched the film with had a blast.
The movie plays a bit long at some points (it’s nearly three hours long), but there’s always a payoff to his long-winded scenes of dialogue or long-played scenes of just riding on horses through the wilderness.
The score is a bit odd, as it mixes traditional, vintage spaghetti western score with a few rap songs. It all works in the long run, though.
The cinematography is pretty awesome as the duo travel through mountain ranges and through the woods and to plantations full of fields of cotton.
It’s very western.
Everyone turns in a stellar performance, even though many of the performances were very unexpected turns for many of the actors in the film.
And keep you’re eyes peeled for a lot of cameos sprinkled throughout the film.
“Django Unchained” is a wild, engaging romp through a violent, repulsive time in American history that only Tarantino could’ve made.
And once you see the film, you’ll be glad he did.
“Django Unchained” isn’t currently playing in Beeville.
Paul Gonzales is the entertainment writer at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 116, or at thescene@mySouTex.com.