Django Unchained is Tarantino's Weakest

I generally like to watch films long after the hype has died down. So finally saw Django Unchained and while the basic premise was interesting, found the screenplay a big drag, some scenes forced (last face off with Leo) & over all the film underwhelming. Characters were half baked and honestly i did not care enough for any of them. Some of the sequences are extremely boring and pointless, indulgent. I am a Tarantino fan but in Django Unchained he did not show me any new side to him as a story teller or filmmaker. In fact for me, this is his weakest film. Hugely disappointed. Larger issue is that i think this fanboyism is doing more harm than good for filmmakers today.

Amit Mehra

Forget being Tarantino's weakest, it was one of the more boring films I have seen in recent past. Most of the action was forced. Music was a misfit. It seemed as if everyone in it was bored too..including the director. Most uninspiring. Character flaws. Don't want to give away the spoilers but it was depressing to see this coming out of one of my idols and more depressing to realize that it won 2 oscars!!

Dianne Ellaine Magtuto

I actually really liked the choice to use the James Brown/Tupac mashup for the "badass shootout scene" in Django, felt it was very quirky, bold and entertaining. Too each their own I guess! :)

Personally, I find Inglourious Basterds to be my favourite Tarantino film (and very proudly label it as my most favourite film) but that's because I'm a huge WW2 geek and fell in love with Tarantino's "what if..." vision with the alternative history and all. To be honest, I think you are being way too harsh on Django and Tarantino. :P

Amit Mehra

@Diane - I agree with you that it is subjective and to each his own. Do not agree with you when you say I am being too harsh. At some point will write a detailed post on this and tag you. Btw, I too am a WWII geek and loved inglorious Basterds. Though my fav tarantino film in recent times remain Kill Bill. That's where I saw a new vision, new world from him. Also, great characters, unpredictable and unrelenting. All that Django wasn't.

Dianne Ellaine Magtuto

Fair enough. Let's not forget how Leonardo DiCaprio DID bleed for his character. Kill Bill will always be phenomenal, a big part of me hopes that Tarantino will commit to a part 3 but he has stated that it "probably" won't happen! I'm still hoping for it though!

Amit Mehra

That would be great if he has more to say on the Kill Bill story. Perhaps, he's out of that space now.

Amit Mehra

Why I didn't like DJANGO UNCHAINED and thought it was Tarantino's weakest film -

General issues -

  1. Too long

  2. Dragging

  3. Boring

  4. Nothing new

  5. Half baked and inconsistent characters

  6. Weak Plot

  7. Flawed screenplay

  8. Ordinary performances

  9. Ordinary cinematography

  10. Whatever...

Specific issues (In no specific order) -

  1. Film begins with an interesting premise of a white man partnering with a black slave to make money as bounty hunters. Their motivations are different from the beginning but It largely ditches this "new and interesting" premise after the first act and goes on to largely become the same old "rescue and revenge drama" in 2nd and 3rd act. Same old but minus innovative storytelling, characters or unpredictability.

  2. Waltz character is set up as a clever dude who can get out of any situation and is a firecracker unafraid of anyone. One gets a sense that he will be one of the main guys who will be in charge. However, soon after the entry of Leonardo's character, all that changes and he suddenly becomes a dormant character who has little to say or do. All his cleverness, guts and fire disappears. Why? no one knows.

  3. Leonardo's character is set up as a vain brutal dude, someone to be feared for his ruthlessness and sharpness. However, his choices send mixed signals right from the beginning. The way Waltz and Django con him to take them to his ranch is easy and convenient. That torture scene where on a pit stop Leo gets one of his slaves eaten by dogs is forced and pointless. Whatever that scene says of characters, story or times was already established earlier. Seems like one of those useless scenes one sees in Bollywood movies to keep harping on the point - " oh see the villain is so mean and cruel". Biggest let down reg leo's character is when he finds out that he has been conned, instead of being ruthless and violent like his character or even the way the scene opens (skull of dead slave) , he goes on to do a business deal with people who have conned him. Big deal!! In fact it seems hilarious. I mean you set up this guy as a scary dude and then he is willing to let go of people who crossed him just for some money. He could have easily taken the money and shot them, tortured them, whatever.

  4. That scene where waltz refuses to shake hands with Leo - dude are you serious??? I mean here's an intelligent sharp bugger who uses all kinds of deceit to get himself out of a pickle and all of a sudden he develops this ego...this conscience (flashes of slave being eaten by dogWTF man???) knowing fully well that it would end badly when they were getting out of the lion's mouth fairly easy - a completely forced convenient ploy to start the gun blazing. It would be in his character to do whatever to get out of there and then come back for revenge, get his money, pride back...that would still be okay.

  5. The sequence where Samuel L Jackson gets a gut feeling or whatever that makes him suspect and know the real plan of waltz and django - what the fuck?? apart from making "Manorma" type eyes and eye balling Broomhilda, Django, etc what else happened that gave away their real plan? how did Leo's sis came to suspect that Broomhilda actually had dow eyes for Django and not Waltz? what was going on? Nothing much is revealed but somehow jackson knows the whole plan including the relationship between django and Broomhilda. What a series of lucky guesses!!

  6. The scene where Jackson asks Django to surrender - again WTF?? they know he has run out of bullets, he is cornered openly in the living room of their house, they are many armed men surrounding him, they have his wife...why are you asking him to surrender? hunt his ass down and kill him like a dog..again like Bollywood films, convenient ploy to keep the hero alive for the next this case another 30-40 min!!!

  7. After he is captured, why the fuck will you not kill him after torturing him? why will you even take an inch of a chance to sell him as a slave and keep him alive when you know he wants revenge, you still have his wife...more importantly, you have every reason to kill him. he killed your boss and many mates!!

  8. Anyway, he is back to being a slave. What a great twist of fate and what a sweet revenge by jackson...NOT. At this point i thought the story will mimic Gladiator and we will see some major uprising or some shit. No sir!! What started off as a film where except for this one waltz dude, everyone else was nasty bitches to slaves, now all of a sudden we have a black godfather ruling white men and all white men are fooled easily by slaves. So Django manages to convince fairly easily and conveniently to his new owners that they should free him and arm him so that they can get rich by 11.5K dollars. (fucking boring irrelevant dialogue reg some math) by this time i was like whatever...just end this boring ass movie. By the way, even now he never redeems himself and let loose other slaves or better still take them along to raid the black godfather! no he leaves them there chained in the can. and this makes one slave dude admire him - "so what if he is not nice to us, atleast he killed our white owners in some bombastic way and now he is selfishly leaving us and going away to pursue his own revenge plan and get his booty".

  9. mindless, convenient and drag scenes killing spree follows...i understand the concept of surprise attack but you have to see this climax to understand how boring, unintelligently and conveniently it is done. Not to mention - most predictable last 10-15 odd minutes in recent movie history, including Bollywood. I mean why even have that? for fanboys? old tarantino would have ended the film with Django riding into the knows what would happen. or leave it open ended. But no this tarantino likes to drag. There is a shot of a white girl masked face bandit amongst the bad hopes some Kill Bill type thing will emerge but no sir...what happens to her no one knows. i guess she gets shot at some point in the passing. Why set her up?? Some pointless shots of bad boys returning from funeral to their house is set up...don't worry it is not followed by any surprises. Paradise of predictable scenes after scenes after scenes.

  10. All the gore and gun fire feels like it has been slapped on just to make the fanboys whistle in the halls. The motivation is forced, half baked (i like this word) and sometimes even lacking. Tarantino always played to the gallery but in this he does not even do it in style. We have seen all that many times before. I mean look at Kill Bill - that was A grade action, fight sequences and innovative depiction of gore. All new territory and inspired stuff. Great fun too. This was drab and childish. Almost as if tarantino is himself bored of capturing action sequences. Then don't do it dude. Stop chasing the whistles!!

  11. Speaking of capturing, barring few shots, this must be the most ordinarily shot tarantino film. I can list atleast 10 westerns which were shot more beautifully, dramatically and captured the times and terrain more artistically and interestingly. then again, I can list you 20 if not more westerns which were thousand times better than this boring saga. In this film he even fails to capture characters interestingly, something he has done masterfully in lot of his previous films. Was this even directed by him???

  12. Music/background score - while some interesting and "clever", "hip" choices of songs have been used to contrast the situations...the musicology of this film is as inconsistent and half baked as most of it's characters, plot. Again - remember the way he used music in Kill Bill? brilliant.

  13. Screenplay - He always had long scenes in his films but they gave a sense of motion and were set up interestingly. This one has long stationary scenes which go nowhere. Not to mention drab locations and uninteresting non witty conversations. This film also has his weakest dialogues. Nothing that was said caught my imagination or attention. lot of blah blah blah...and except for waltz, all other actors failed to impress me with their dialogue delivery. Btw, Leo was a disaster casting choice for that character. Even waltz - i mean remember that milk scene from inglorious basterds? or so many scenes from that film in which he shines. Except for the opening scene and the scene where he outwits the marshall (and i am being kind here), he hardly gets to shine. His character changes but that change is unconvincing and uninteresting to say the least. I wish he had not changed and remained a badass. that is bad news as far as character graph goes.

  14. Django keeps seeing mirage of his wife throughout his journey. Really is that tarantino trying to depict longing/pain of separation? dude what happened to you?? surely you could think of new ways to do that. It creates no impact on me and does not make me sympathize or connect with Django's loss, pain, longing, whatever. remember how it was done in thin red line or Gladiator? that was poetry. These were rather lame inserts.

  15. There are many other things that just did not work for me and i never thought I will say this but I found myself yawning during some of the scenes. I mean i see tarantino's earlier films the nights i have to keep awake for some reason. and trust me most of his earlier films can do that effortlessly even if i overdozed on sleeping pills. This film is a lullaby for headless chickens.

Overall, what disappointed me the most is that tarantino too has become a victim of this fanboyism like nolan and others. This film was over hyped for absolutely no deserving reason. It was such an interesting proposition to see someone like tarantino do a western or a film on slavery but what a huge disappointment. Broke my heart.

Amit Mehra


Anton Kozikowski

hah. I loved it.

Amit Mehra

@Anton You loved DJango? ok.

Irena Huljak

Absolutely. So I can see them for what they are. I am watching some very interesting films from 3 years ago. Django has great parts but is very slow.

Anton Kozikowski

Hey Amit, I really enjoyed the lead character Christopher Waltz! I loved the way he used his intelligence to get Django out of any dangerous situation. even when it seemed impossible. I felt it was a fresh interpretation in the style of many of our old westerns here in US. haha! Tarantino is one of my inspirations. Pulp Fiction, Resevoir Dogs will always be the foundation of my work! I believe he was the catalyst for the complex characters, and anti-heroes that populate our current films like the work of the Coen Brothers, Wes Anderson and even the Italian gangster films like Good Fellas.

Anton Kozikowski

Oh, and watching your trailer reminds me of Tarantino's mastery in the use of music!

Amit Mehra

@Anton - first of all thank you for your kind words reg my trailer. :) Secondly, please do not misunderstand my criticism of DJango as me taking down Tarantino in general. In fact within the detailed critique, I have praised his earlier works which I admire greatly. I have made some specific observations and would appreciate if you can respond to them specifically in case you feel differently. For example reg Waltz character - I have written in length why I feel his character was inconsistent. It does start off as an intelligent, clever guy but post entry of Leo's changes suddenly without any logic. Pl refer to the detailed critique. Cheers!

Randall Roffe

I agree. Tarantino has never been a favorite of mine, but he has reached a new low

Amit Mehra

Like I said, Tarantino has often played to gallery but Django really shocked me. This fanboyism is becoming an epidemic engulfing all good filmmakers and actors.

Tiffy Diamond - @Tiffy4u On Social Media

Definitely, felt some of the scenes were too long and could have been cut. However, I loved this film. It actually lived up to the hype for me.

Amit Mehra

@Tiffy - could you contradict any of the specific points I have made against Django? Just curious... :)

Andre Hunt

I'm with you on Django. But sometimes once a director has spoiled your taste buds with a certain scene, then an attitude is formed and can color your further viewing. Then you find yourself tolerating the experience. Or, as Krishnamurti might say, you've entered the field of time. However, the crassness of Tarentino comes forth as he plays with various mini genres in one scene, or takes an arch approach to an emotional scene. Inglorious Bastards starts in one extremely serious tone,and then casually shifts to absurd comic moments and then to a dream ending that insults the viewer, but has somehow pleased those who's education started in the nineties. Django's cinematographer did serve his Oscar. He's bound for even better work, and I bet he directs soon. I get the feeling that Tarentino doesn't have a chart for his ship anymore, he just sets sail.

Amit Mehra

Andre - well put. I hope QT finds his groove back because I love lot of his work. I think the problem is that earlier he was making films, now he is catering to an image.

Donna - Marie

Hi Amit.

I couldn't agree more. Here is a blog I wrote in January 2013

I was in Jamaica when I saw the trailer for Django, and I could not wait for its general release in the UK. I was even more enthused when I heard the storm it was causing.

Spike Lee reportedly tweeted that ‘Tarantino had appropriated a grimly pivotal part of black history for the purpose of trashy entertainment’.

I have to say, I was very disappointed with the film, and with Tarantino’s reported motives for making the film.

Unlike Spike Lee, I believe, every film maker has the right to share with the world their artistic vision in the manner which they choose. I see ‘Django’ as a parallel story to ‘Inglorious Bastards’.

It is up to the film maker to choose the subject matter and to depict it in the style which he chooses. Lee is entitled to his opinion, and there is nothing stopping him from giving his own take on the subject, in fact I wish he would.

On the infamous ‘I’m shutting your butt downgate’ interview, Tarantino claims he ‘wanted to give African American’s a hero’. If this was his aim, then I am afraid, he has failed. How can Django be considered a hero when he is reliant on Schultz for everything? Schultz empowers Django; it kind of defeats the objective.

Foxx’s character was so unbelievable, and not in a kind of Spaghetti western ‘I’m going to kill six people before you blink’ unbelievable, just not credible.

Christopher Waltz’s character, Schultz, travels from god knows where, to find a slave to help him identify a wanted man? Can no one else identify him? Really?

Then no sooner than Schultz gives Django his freedom, Django is sassing every white person he comes across. Surely a newly freed slave would tread more carefully or end up dead, no matter how well Schultz articulates that he is a bounty hunter!

Django becomes more brazen, he kills some wanted white men. This just does not ring true for the period Tarantino was trying to depict.

The relationship between Schultz and Django seemed rushed. Django surely would have been more suspicious of this white man who wanted to treat him fairly. This narrative would have served well as an episodic form.

A prelude could chart the relationship developing between

the two men, and give Django a chance to come into his own. Episode two could show Django, a hero in his own right, an outlaw too quick and too skilled to be caught.

Tarantino failed to show the character of any of the field slaves, this failure has meant that Django’s character is flat because we could not separate him from the others. We do not know what is special about Django. Perhaps if Schultz freed two slaves, and one remained submissive we may have been rooting for Django as a heroic brave slave. He also came across as individualistic, which does not create empathy.

The tone of this film was all over the place, it definitely was not a love story. I did not see anything which resembled love, apart from the love between Stephen and Candie.

Having pointed out the major flaws I found with the film, there was still a great amount of it which I liked. I won’t mention structure, or the very late entry of the two characters I loved the most. Tarantino is a law onto himself and can pretty much break the screenplay rules and still get global distribution [newbies don’t be fooled into thinking you can do the same.

‘Stephen’ (Samuel L Jackson) and ‘Candie’ (Leonardo DiCaprio) were movie gold. These two come across as real as life, they did a great job at portraying their characters without appearing caricaturesque. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for Waltz and Foxx.

I loved the music, the visuals and I do admire Tarantino for making this movie. It never even occurred to me that slavery occurred during the Western era. As much as I thought I’m too intelligent to allow film or TV to dictate how I view the world, my early years of watching westerns taught me that the western era was all about White cowboys and the Arawak Indians. So Mr Tarantino you may have failed in providing me with an African American hero, but I salute you for the education.

Donna – Marie Dowe is a MA screenwriting graduate, an up and coming film maker. She has her own script editing service, drop her a line

Amit Mehra

@Donna - I agree with your assessment. Did you read this? -->

Andre Hunt

I think Tarentino is making comic books out of history. I think he's gotta hole in the bucket.

Donna - Marie

@Amit. Thanks I just read it. I agree with everything he said. :)

Manina Lassen

I liked the movie when I saw it, but when I read the script I found it really weak. He does a good job introducing the characters, but then, like you say, they don't develop much. For two thirds of the movie he has Dr. Shultz drive the story, only to kill him off in act 2, and the main antagonist as well, only to introduce new antagonists and absurd, unbelievable situations and a glued-on finale. Oscar for best screenplay? Is this the standard now?