Quentin Tarantino movies are Always remarkable, but not always super. We found Pulp Fiction to be great, and Reservoir Dogs will Always remain in our Top10 of best movies ever, but on the other side we weren’t impressed with Death Proof, and also the more recent Inglorious Basterds couldn’t completely convince us. Django Unchained, Tarantinos interpretation of the old spaghetti western, however, ticks all the right boxes and with so much confidence and pursuasion that we can talk of a true masterpiece.
Jamie Foxx is Django, a slave who gets bought and freed by the talented and lovely bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz in order to help with finding three thieves. This goes so well that Schultz suggests to work together on a longer term and when he hears Django wants to free his wife Broomhilda this reminds the Doctor of the German legend of Siegfried in such a way that he feels obligated to help Django in his quest. Only issue: Broomhilda has been sold to the rich and infamous Calvin Candie who has a remarkable hobby regarding his slaves, a hobby that will play on Schultz’ conscience in such a way that the quest will end up becoming more than the two had ever seen coming…
Tarantino has gathered yet again a cast of all stars around him for his project and their work is truly astonishing, especially as nobody really manages to get noticed as being either a lot better or a lot worse than the rets. Jamie Foxx perfectly does his thing as the liberated slave who lets his deeds speak more than his words, Samuel L. Jackson is really fantastic as the house slave Stephen, Leonardo DiCaprio could almost be accused of overacting but it works perfectly for his character of Calvin Candie, and Christoph Waltz who we previously saw as the memorable Col. Hans Landa from Inglorious Basterds is again fantastic as the bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz.
A good cast and story usually already make a movie great, but to truly reach the abolute top you need that little bit more and Tarantino delivers it by making smart use of comedy (the discussion regarding the head bags is just hilarious!), the subtle adding of multiple layers in the characters and their backgrounds by using flashbacks, and last but not least the many links towards old westerns as well as the original Django movie with even a guest appearance of Franco Nero who played the lead in that movie from 1966. This all makes Django Unchained getting a 10/10 for good reason and puts it straight in the line of classics next to those other top movies from Tarantino, Reservoir Dogs en Pulp Fiction.
Just like the movie shines in story, acting and direction, the Blu-ray splatters off the screen with an image transfer that can easily be called sublime. There are some scarse moments where the image looks a bit softer, but that’s mostly intentional by manipulations and use of lens filters to give flashbacks that washed out ’70s feel, but for the rest everything looks hair sharp, the details can be admired to the smallest points, the black levels are perfect and the contrast is exactly how it should be. Skin tones and color use are lifelike and the blood spatters just fly off the screen in such a manner that you would almost duck in order to not get any on your clothes. Magnificent!
The sound is also top but the makers decided to give more weight to the feeling of oldskool westerns which resulted in a focus on the front channels. The rear speakers do get used but mostly for some effects and atmosphere sounds which look to be more used as a reminder that you do have speakers in the back. In the front we get perfect stereo sound with clear dialogues and nice splatters whenever someone’s head gets shot to pieces, and good positioning left and right while also the subwoofer gets its piece of the action. A lot of fun and nice to hear, but it does remain a (small) downpoint that there isn’t more use of the surround channels.
There’s about an hour of extras, starting with “Remembering J. Michael Riva: The Production Design of Django Unchained” where honor is paid to production designer J. Michael Riva who died during the making of the film. Then there’s “The Costume Designs of Sharen Davis” in which cast & crew talk about their costumes, and last but not least there’s “Reimagining the Spaghetti Western: The Horses and Stunts of Django Unchained”, a 23 minute making of in which everyone talks praise about each other.