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Django Unchained (Blu-ray Review)

12 Apr, 2013 By: John Latchem

Street 4/16/13
Anchor Bay
Box Office $162.55 million
$29.98 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray
Rated ‘R’ for strong graphic violence throughout, a vicious fight, language and some nudity.
Stars Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry
Washington, Samuel L. Jackson.

Quentin Tarantino’s evolution as a filmmaker may have refined his abilities as a storyteller, but his penchant for deliberate dialogue and bloody gunplay remain his trademarks.

Django Unchained represents his eighth journey at the helm of a feature film, and may be his most straightforward narrative in terms of structure. The plot is easy enough to follow without relying on editing gimmicks or intercutting between the stories of unconnected characters that eventually intertwine by the end.

As with Tarantino’s previous film, the World War II fantasy Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained is a period piece, set in the southern United States in late 1858, but it’s also an engaging buddy movie. German bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (the great Christoph Waltz, en route to his second supporting actor Oscar for collaborating with QT) frees a slave named Django (Jamie Foxx) because he’ll be able to identify members of a fugitive gang wanted dead or alive. In exchange, Schultz offers to help Django find and free his wife (Kerry Washington), who was sold to the Candyland plantation, run by Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). To do so, they hatch a ruse to curry Candie’s favor by indulging his affinity for Mandingo fighting, involving to-the-death brawls between slaves.

Needless to say, it wouldn’t be a Tarantino picture if everything went smoothly. Tarantino, who rode his Django screenplay to a second writing Oscar (after 1994’s Pulp Fiction) is a master at milking a scene for tension, and at one point the entire plot turns on something as simple as a handshake. What’s clear is that nothing is going to stand between Django and his wife, even if he has to blow away half of the south to get to her.

The influence of classic Westerns on Tarantino’s style is readily apparent, and some scenes look like they could have been lifted from movies shot in the 1960s. The craftsmanship is skilled enough to evoke a feeling of the era being portrayed that it’s easy to overlook the abundant anachronisms that pop up, the least of which involve the use of Jim Croce music and hip-hop during key scenes.

The music plays such a prominent role that the disc offers a playback mode that lets viewers jump to a specific song.

Otherwise, the disc is pretty light on extras, offering some short behind-the-scenes clips and commercials for the soundtrack and the Tarantino XX Blu-ray collection.

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