What I feel about the Django Unchained script

Quentin Tarantino (QT) is a psychedelic son of a bitch. He, along with Steven Soderbergh and Robert Rodriguez, kick started the whole concept of independent film because they made great movies at shoestring budgets. He changed the way people viewed cinema with his second film, Pulp Fiction, with its non-linear narrative and colorful characters. He’s a true cinephile, and is proud of that fact, throwing references to films that a majority of today’s filmgoing audiences would probably never, ever have seen if not for QT. All his films have a distinctive stamp on them, and I’ve been enamored with that stamp ever since I was 12. Until a couple of months back, where I realized something that applies not only to QT, but also to film in general.

QT’s new film is Django Unchained. That’s a fuck awesome title. QT is a huge fan of spaghetti westerns, and this film puts him in that territory. Somehow, the script leaked online. At first, I didn’t want to read it because I wanted to be surprised. But, knowing Tarantino to be the showman that he is, the actual movie would be a grander spectacle than the script itself (it’s got a great cast lined up, except for its hero, Jamie Foxx).

Django Unchained is everything you would expect from a Tarantino movie, which is why I didn’t like it. With Tarantino, when you’ve seen his films many, many (many) times, you kind of have a feeling for what his sensibilities are. So, this film is basically “Tarantino does a Western”. And nothing more. Sure, you could say that any film Tarantino makes is kick ass, but his template carries so much familiarity that his shock and awe technique doesn’t have as much of a kick to it. But I’m being pedantic.

The script has all the right stuff: colorful characters, plot twists in the climax, character arcs (with the Hollywood themes of redemption and solace). Since I knew the cast of the film, it was easy to visualize, which is where I found the film to be stale. Christoph Waltz plays a bounty hunter called Dr. King Schultz. Dr. King Schultz is basically Hans Landa (from Inglourious Basterds) but this time he helps the hero. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Calvin Candie, who’s not even a real bad ass villain, because he’s introduced almost midway in the movie. QT maintains all his literary prowess and wordplay, but it seemed to remind me of his other movies. The titular character, Django, doesn’t get “Unchained!!!” (the word gave me a vision of machine gun level badassery) but he’s reduced to a sidekick in his own tale until the climax, which was the most obvious way to end it.

One thing I’ve realized is, all of Tarantino’s movies are all style, but no substance. They’re all like kung fu artists who can do acrobatics and flurries all over the stage, but when it comes down to real fighting, you can bet that their asses would get whooped. Tarantino’s style has worked against him this time, because just having a bunch of colorful characters spewing roundabout dialogue to convey a point doesn’t yank my chain after the  eight (or so) films he’s done.

But then again, is this the version of the script he intended to leak? Leaves me wondering whether Django really will get fucking Unchained.

 This is the teaser poster for the unchaining of Monseiur Django.