'Django Unchained': What the Critics Are Saying

 

Christoph Waltz, Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio head to the pre-Civil War South in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained.

The film from the Weinstein Company bowed Christmas Day to $15 million, the top opening for an R-rated film on the holiday. Although its depiction of slavery has been criticized by Spike Lee and its use of the n-word has been rebuked by others, Django received strong reviews from critics and currently holds an 89 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, as well as an 80 percent on Metacritic.

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Read what top critics had to say about the film below.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy, who included it in his top 10 films of 2012, wrote: “Tarantino’s affinity for black culture and interest in the ways blacks and whites relate always have been evident, but they’ve never before been front and center to the extent that they are in Django Unchained. Some might object to the writer-director’s tone, historical liberties, comic japes or other issues, but there can be no question who gets the shaft here: This is a story of justifiable vengeance, pure and simple, and no paleface is spared, even the good German who facilitates a slave’s transformation into a take-no-prisoners hunter of whites who trade in black flesh.”

Washington Post’s Ann Hornaday: “The art of creative anachronism Tarantino practices in this extravaganza of Southern gothic camp is far more successful than 2009’s Inglourious Basterds in meaningfully engaging the history it’s repurposing. Where Basterds was little more than a larky speculative burlesque, Django Unchained possesses an unmistakable subversive power, its playfully insurrectionist spirit perhaps the modern-day pop-culture equivalent of far more high stakes rebellions of yore.”

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New York Times A.O. Scott: “It is digressive, jokey, giddily brutal and ferociously profane. But it is also a troubling and important movie about slavery and racism.”

Slate’s Dana Stevens: “Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino’s blaxploitation spaghetti western about a freed slave turned bounty hunter, provoked a lot of contradictory feelings in me, including some that don’t usually come in pairs: hilarity and boredom. Aesthetic delight and physical nausea. Fist-pumping righteousness and vague moral unease. Of course, provoking intense feelings is what Tarantino’s cinema is all about.”

Chicago Tribune’s Michael Phillips: “By the two-hour mark the fun had oozed out of the movie for me. It's long. Or feels it. Tarantino's scripts tend to read, and play, like writing samples stitched together, full of heavily brocaded monologues for his most voluble characters. Yet he's a lousy self-editor, and despite his prodigious filmmaking knowledge and lust for filmmaking history, as a director he struggles with pacing and excess and detours.”

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Los Angeles TimesBetsy Sharkey: “In Django, Tarantino is a man unchained, creating his most articulate, intriguing, provoking, appalling, hilarious, exhilarating, scathing and downright entertaining film yet. Even given the grand tradition of artists using their work for sharp social rebukes -- Mel Brooks' genius swipe at Nazism in The Producers, for one -- Tarantino's mash-ups between the unconscionable inhumanity of others and his outrageous riffs on the matter defy comparison.”

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