Back in my Argo review I complained about cinema start times are always way off.
Well I’ve learned from it, and yesterday decided to turn up to the 4:45 showing of Django Unchained at 5:20, and though the girl selling me the ticket said “Oh, that film started ages ago“, when I went in, the film title card was just showing up on the screen.
What’s even more ridiculous is that Cineworld offer a service now where Unlimited Card holders can reserve tickets for collection, but must turn up 15 minutes before the advertised start time.
So had I done that, I’d have been sitting in the cinema for 50 minutes before the film actually began, and then had to sit through a film that lasted for almost three hours.
But anyway, at least I’ve got utility out of my unlimited card this month.
As to the film itself…
What’s It About?
This is like two films rolled into one.
The second half of the film is a much slower burning piece, with the two men looking to rescue Django’s wife, who is a slave of one of the owner of one of the most brutal plantation owners in the Deep South.
Thoughts – A Film of Two Halves
This is a film that starts off strong. It looks good, it has a suitable amount of gore from the explosive gun shots and it has plenty of moments that are genuinely funny.
Indeed, the first half of this film is exactly what I expected from a Tarantino effort going in.
But then it slowed down, almost to a crawl.
I understand why that is; the first part was merely the setup to the main storyline, where Django and Dr. King Schultz had to play the long game to buy back Django’s wife. The idea behind it was that they would pretend to be interested in purchasing black slaves for fights to the death for a massive price, and then make a far smaller offer – the only genuine offer on the table – for the woman.
And while that’s fine, the change of gear from the in your face violence to an over the top examination of race relations from that era – a sort of video nasty version of Song of the South – was so stark that it made that second hour of the film difficult to truly embrace.
That’s not to say it was bad, because it wasn’t – both Leonardo di Caprio and Samuel L. Jackson were enjoyable to watch, even if they were playing their parts like cartoon characters – but it slowed it down too much for my liking.
Towards the end things heated up again, with mindless, comical violence the order of the day. Some people might say it was too brutal, but it was so over the top it was more amusing than distressing.
For me though, it could have lost a good half an hour in the middle, and I’d have enjoyed it far more.
- Now obviously, using a racist term like “N*gger” in 21st century society is wrong, and rightly so. Even when not using it offensively, like writing a review like this, it still feels wrong to the extent that I feel as though I should censor it. But because of the context of the film and the time it was set in, that word got used a lot. A lot. Now I don’t have a problem with it, but I can’t help but think it was overused to almost childish levels. It was as if the writer knew it was fair game to use it, and thus wanted to get it in there as much as possible. It seemed like he was almost wanting to shock with it, and even someone like me, who doesn’t really get offended by words, noticed it.
- On the other hand, words like that were just part of the dialect, so maybe I’m being…dare I say it…overly PC.
- Tarantino’s little cameo was rubbish. That man can’t speak with an Australian accent.
- The Colonel Sanders, Ku Klux Klan type looked exactly like a member of my extended family who I can’t stand, so I cheered when he got his head blown off.
- Without spoiling it, the bit with the dogs was pretty horrible.
- Credit has to be given to Tarantino though for the effective use of music throughout. I particularly liked that he used one of my favourite songs – Ain’t No Grave, by Johnny Cash.
- IMDB Rating – 8.7
Should You Go To See Django Unchained
It’s a fun film that provides laughs, decent acting and gratuitous violence. And people will go to see it because of the director.
But what stops it from being a great film and makes it merely good – to me at least – is that it slowed down in the middle so much that I was begging for it to speed up.
It failed my ‘Checking the Watch’ test as a result.
If it had been a half hour or even 45 minutes shorter, I think I would have given it my highest recommendation.
But like most films these days, it seems to want to last almost three hours, and that’s not something I like.
It is still good though, and if you’ve got no problem with films as long as that, it’s worth your time.