Django Unchained (2012)


Kill White People and Get Paid for it? What’s Not to Like?

Django Unchained (2012)It’s a heavy spoiler for this review that today’s movie made it into my top films of 2012, but I still feel obligated to give it the full review it never received. Near the end of the year, I was trying so hard to review as many movies from 2012 as I could that I pushed this one off so much that I didn’t feel like the memory was fresh enough to still write the review for it. I knew it was only a matter of time until I got around to reviewing it because there was no way that I wouldn’t be picking it up on BluRay the day it released. Well the time finally came that I could present you with my review of Django Unchained, written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, and starring Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, Walton Goggins, Don Johnson, James Remar, Tom Wopat, Russ Tamblyn, Amber Tamblyn, Bruce Dern, Zoë Bell, and Jonah Hill.

A group of slaves is being driven by the Speck Brothers until they’re stopped by a German dentist named Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), who stops them looking to purchase one of their slaves named Django (Jamie Foxx). When the Speck Brothers decline, Schultz guns them down. Schultz reveals himself to be a bounty hunter who needs Django to identify the Brittle Brothers, who Schultz has a bounty for. After dealing with the Brittle Brothers, Django reveals that he’s been separated from his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), and Schultz decides to help reunite them, taking Django on as an apprentice bounty hunter until they get a chance to free Broomhilda from the slave owner Calvin J. Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).

This movie is awesome, but I don’t even know how comfortable I’d be in saying that it’s Tarantino’s best movie to date. And that is a huge compliment. When your movie is potentially coming in third to Pulp Fiction and Inglourious Basterds, you know you’re doing alright in your career. And Django does not disappoint Tarantino fans, at least not this one. It’s far more fun than you’d expect a movie about slavery to be. Tarantino takes what could be a really heavy premise and injects it with his particular brand of humor, which you can see all over the place, such as Don Johnson’s character telling one of his slaves to not be so hasty when jumping to the conclusion that she should treat Django like a white man when he suggested to treat him better than she’d treat other slaves. Even though the scene could’ve technically been left out of the movie, I also enjoyed the scene where the racists were preparing to lynch Django and got into a discussion about the eyeholes on their hoods because it was pretty damned funny. Of course, Tarantino usually writes some funny and/or compelling dialogue, my favorite in this movie being between Django and Schultz more often than not. I guess the dialogue did seem a bit off in their unrealistically low use of the N-word for a movie taking place in the South, but I’ll let that slide as well. The only thing I took issue with in the whole story was the plan to rescue Broomhilda. They determined that they couldn’t just offer to buy her, and they also couldn’t offer to buy one of Candie’s fighters unless they came at him with a ridiculous sum of money, so they had to come up with this big ploy to offer the money and ask to take Broomhilda as a signing bonus. I don’t know why they didn’t just offer a crazy sum of money for Broomhilda in the first place. I suppose part of their idea was to only pay $2,000 for her and act like they’d come back with the rest later, but if they’d just offered $5,000, Django would’ve been good for it. It’s not like he didn’t help him raise at least that much money, thusly earning it for himself. And it’s not like he had anything else he wanted, so he could drop all that money to get his wife back. It’s a major point in the story, but a minor qualm from me. I got over it.

The action in this movie was over the top, but always in a fun way. It was like the Expendables in that when someone gets shot, they are sent flying in an explosion of red mist. But unlike the Expendables, this movie was good. And watching Django go into Candieland and fuck shit up was fantastic. The only real problem I had with the look in the movie was having to see someone’s hairy black nutsack, up close and personal.

The biggest sell of this movie had to be the performances. Everyone in this movie put on a clinic for amazing performances. Jamie Foxx started off pretty meek, but quickly turned into a badass. We already knew he had the comedy chops, but I don’t really recall seeing him as a badass action hero that often in the past. He wears it well. Christoph Waltz cannot seem to go wrong when pairing up with Tarantino. Waltz is great in everything I’ve seen him do, but he’s magic with Tarantino. My mom tried to get me to describe what it is about him that makes everyone talk about him with such reverence. I don’t really have the words. After more than 450 reviews, I still don’t know how to put what I think of Waltz into words. But I also can’t tell my mom to watch the movies to see him in action because my mom can’t handle violence, and his two best performances that I’ve seen were in movies lousy with violence. I think you just haveta see him to believe him. Leonardo DiCaprio is also fantastic in this movie, playing Candie as very charming but believably sadistic. Samuel L. Jackson is awesome in this movie as well as the racist asshole slave, and it was also the first time I’ve ever seen Jackson allow himself to look closer to his age. He’s 64 years old! Black don’t crack. Speaking of racist things, Walton Goggins is also in this movie. I’m not saying he’s actually a racist, but he does give good racism. He’s really good at saying the N-word. Speaking of which, I think that must be tough for all non-racist white people in this movie, as I’m sure all of them were. If I were in this movie and I had to sling the N-word around like that, I’d be ruining every take by yelling, “I’m sorry! I’m so sorry, everybody! Alright, back into the scene.”

Django Unchained is awesome. Excellent story with great –and often hilarious – dialogue that I’ve come to expect from Tarantino. The action is lots of fun and every performance in the movie is what other actors should study for their own betterment. This movie is easily in Tarantino’s top three best movies, which is the best compliment I can give with an already illustrious career. This is a movie you should’ve seen when it was in theaters, but if that time is passed then you should go buy it right now. Django Unchained gets “Our mutual friend has a flair for the dramatic” out of “I like the way you die, boy.”

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Predators (2010)


After 5:00?  Damn.  Time to Go Rape Me Some Fine Bitches.

Because of Predator 2, I was extremely cautious about today’s movie.  We’ve seen many times in the past that sequels tend to decrease in quality, but I feel that cinema has also shown movies can occasionally reclaim a bit of their former glory when they’ve been removed for a few more years and no longer feel that they need to shove out a sequel while the original is still hot.  The sequels that try to capitalize on the original are usually rushed and terrible, but the other ones at least have a fighting chance.  We’ll find out what happened when they rolled the dice with Predators, written by Michael Finch, directed by Nimród Antal, and starring Adrien Brody, Alice Braga, Topher Grace, Louis Ozawa Changchien, Walton Goggins, Oleg Taktarov, Mahershalalhashbaz Ali, Danny Trejo, Laurence Fishburne, Derek Mears, Carey Jones, and Brian Steele.

A group of seemingly random people wake up to find themselves plummeting through the air towards an unfamiliar jungle.  MOST of their parachutes open.  When they finally come together, they introduce themselves as Royce (Adrien Brody), an ex-special ops soldier turned mercenary, Isabelle (Alice Braga), an IDF sniper, Hanzo (Louis Ozawa Changchien), a Yakuza enforcer, Stans (Walton Goggins), a death row inmate, Nikolai (Oleg Taktarov), a Spetsnaz soldier, Mombasa (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali), a Revolutionary United Front officer, Cuchillo (Danny Trejo), a Mexican drug cartel enforcer, and Edwin (Topher Grace), a doctor.  Together, they find out that they’re actually on an alien planet, where they were all chosen to sharpen the skills of a group of Predators.  Also, there’s a crazy guy named Noland (Laurence Fishburne) that lives in the jungle after having survived an earlier season.

Predators is not without its problems, but I still felt like it was able to claim a decent enough chunk of the fun you can find in the first movie.  And, to its credit, it’s far superior to Predator 2.  The story is nothing super spectacular, but it never really has been in this series.  They’re all basically “Guy(s) fights a Predator(s)”.  That’s basically what you’re getting here too.  But it really doesn’t have a lot of stupid stuff going on in it.  That’s good for the enjoyment of a movie, but disappointing when my favorite thing to do is mock the movies.  It didn’t really give me that much ammunition, at least for this paragraph.  It didn’t try very hard in the story, the dialogue was mostly pretty basic, and they only attempt to surprise the audience a few times, and a few of them actually work.  It’s an action movie, pure and simple, and the action is pretty satisfying.  It’s mostly some good gunplay and some bits of the Predators being awesome, but that’s all I really want to see.  I did appreciate that it totally hits the ground running on the action, with the very first scene being Royce plummeting through the air.  And it keeps that fun going pretty much all the way through.

The characters of the movie gave me the most ammunition for jokes, though the performances themselves gave me no complaints.  The reason I found the characters so amusing is because so many of them were just stereotypes.  Take, for example, Nikolai.  He was a Russian!  WHAT?!  How long did they have to brainstorm to come up with that name?!  Speaking of which, Hanzo!  His character was also a stereotype.  In fact, it was more than one smashed together.  He was a Yakuza, but also exhibited signs of being both a ninja and a samurai, just like every Asian person.  For the first bulk of the movie, I was actually shocked that they didn’t give him a friggin’ katana to fight with … and then they did.  Danny Trejo was also a pretty stereotypical Mexican.  I mean in real life.  His character was too, though.  The African dude with the unpronounceable name (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali) seemed to basically be Joseph Kony, but much less of a monster.  Walton Goggins was a fairly basic white trash character as well.  Topher Grace’s character was the only one that had any kind of surprise to him.  Adrien Brody and Alice Braga didn’t really fit any particular stereotype for their race, but settled pretty nicely into the stereotypes of action movie characters.  Brody was a pretty typical gruff, raspy, mysterious action dude, and Braga was the tough chick, and more damsel in distress near the end of the movie.  And Laurence Fishburne was almost annoyingly over the top as his crazy character.

Predators has a pretty basic story and never really tries to be more than an action movie, but that’s not really a bad thing.  It knew what it was trying to do and it did it, and the movie was pretty fun and pretty fantastic to look at.  The characters were one-dimensional and usually stereotypical, but they were well performed.  Final verdict: the comparison between Predator and Predators is nowhere near the same as Alien and Aliens, and I’d say the original Predator is probably a little better, but Predators is pretty close, and way better than Predator 2.  Also, definitely worth a watch.  And, now that we’ve talked Aliens and Predators, I think we need to see what happens when they throw down against each other.  We’ll find out how that works out over the next two days, but for now, Predators gets “They’re bigger than us, stronger, but also heavier” out of “Looking good there, boss.”

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