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Tarantino's palette in full force for 'Django Unchained'
Within the first 15 minutes of "Django Unchained," it's made apparent that this is a film only Quentin Tarantino could have fostered.
And that's not necessarily a bad thing.
A spaghetti western at heart, "Django Unchained" takes place just two years prior to the Civil War and is initially set somewhere in Texas -- seriously. The story centers around Django (Jamie Foxx), a slave purchased by German-born dentist-turned-bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) to aid him in his pursuit of the infamous Brittle brothers -- Django's former slave owners.
Courtesy of Schultz, Django hones his bounty hunting skills and develops a marksman-like efficiency behind the trigger that is put into practice amply as the film progresses. While helping Schultz with his mission, Django has ambitions of his own: rescuing his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), whom he lost to the slave trade and currently resides on a Mississippi plantation owned by Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), whose living quarters are aptly named "Candieland."
What unfolds is a tale laced in entertainment, humor and violence -- all while skirting along the lines of a historically polarizing subject. Just as Tarantino put his own spin on World War II and Nazi Germany in "Inglourious Basterds," he tackles slavery in "Django."
Tarantino doesn't hold back, from a heavy proliferation of the N-word to imagery that ranges from slaves being whipped, fed to dogs and even fighting to the death.
It's not for the weak at heart, although whatever tensions may arise from the film's subject matter is lightened by the chemistry between Foxx and Waltz producing plenty of humorous results in the movie's early going.
The film actually holds up quite well as a comedy, from Waltz's matter-of-fact composure, to a slapstick exchange between a mob bickering about not being able to see through the eyeholes of their shoddily-made hoods.
Not to stray from the western film formula, Tarantino brings the violence in droves in this flick. Packed with scenes that rank among the director's goriest, gunshot wounds draw blood like an exploding volcano and more than a few bones are broken in the wake of Django's conquest.
It's all complemented by an eclectic score that ranges from the 70s twang of the film's theme song, to Foxx gunning down a hoard of white men to the crooning of 2Pac and James Brown.
Foxx's reckless swagger and Waltz's sublime demeanor make for an entertaining duo, although DiCaprio's villainy is arguably outshined by his main servant, Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson).
The film clocks in at 166 minutes, a length that doesn't hinder its quality in the slightest and boasts enough comedy and carnage for a western that's like no other.
4 of 5 stars