DVD of the Week: An Unhinged 'Django Unchained'

Django Unchained So much was made of Quentin Tarantino's long-anticipated Western--it's overlong, too much use of the "N" word, the director's strange and misplaced appearance as a redneck with an Aussie accent--that you'd have thought the South was rising again. Oh, and did we mention the violence? 'Cause yeah, there's that. 

All, in fact, true--this is the first movie QT has made since his longtime editor Sally Menke died, and it shows in an unnecessary three-hour runtime that includes drawn-out scenes of slaves fighting and hooded KKK-ers kidding around on horseback. Tarantino seems to like doing two movies in one, and Django seems like just that; the first half of this film is the best stuff he's done since Jackie Brown while the second half feels almost like a different film. Once freed slave Django (Jamie Foxx) and his bounty hunter partner (Christophe Waltz, here a good German dude) hit Mississippi, Django fades into the background and it suddenly becomes Samuel L. Jackson's movie as an Uncle Tom head slave who kisses his Francophile master's (a great, oily Leonardo DiCaprio) butt and pushes the other slaves around with jaw-dropping offense. That being said, the movie's (or movies?) great--the cinematography is terrific and most of all you'll appreciate the return of Tarantino's trademark whip-smart dialogue, which makes his copycat wannabes all the more obvious...it's clear how much fun the actors are having with all the back-and-forth. And about that violence--the grand finale is about as bloodspattered as you'd expect from the guy who brought us Reservoir Dogs and Inglourious Basterds. So yes, overlong, but well worth the sit.

One obvious thing missing from this disc is director commentary; no doubt it'll come on a future release. Meantime, it's available in a variety of different formats at various retailers. Extras: "Remembering J. Michael Riva: The Production Design of Django Unchained," a tribute to the film's late production designer; "Reimagining the Spaghetti Western: The Horses and Stunts of Django Unchained," "The Costume Designs of Sharen Davis" and ads for the Tarantino XX Blu-ray collection and the film's soundtrack (DVD/BD).

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