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Django Unchained (iTunes HD Digital Download Review)

“Django, have you always been alone?  Django, have you never loved again?  Love will live on, Oh Oh Oh…Life must go on, Oh Oh Oh…For you cannot spend you life regretting.  Django, you must face another day.  Django, now your love has gone away.  Once you loved her, whoa-oh…Now you’ve lost her, whoa-oh-oh-oh…But you’ve lost her for-ever, Django.”  God!  I love that song!  And God I love this movie!  Let it be know here and now that this review is going to be nothing but praise for Quentin Tarantino’s Christmas 2012 masterpiece…Django Unchained.  So if you’re not a fan of the film or Tarantino’s work in general, there’s Sean Ferguson’s Wreck it Ralph Blu-ray review over here.  Are we straight now?  Great!  Let’s get this shindig started.

Film 

So where do we get started?  Let’s start with the obvious.  The Christmas Day 2012 action spaghetti western drama was both written and directed by the master of dialog, Quentin Tarantino.  It stars Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson and even Don Johnson.  And guess what?  It opened up to rave reviews from both critics and moviegoers alike.  Heck, it was even nominated for Best Picture and Quentin ended up taking home the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.  So tell me, how bad can it be?  I know you say “tow-may-toe’ and I say “tow-ma-tow,” but come on…like it or not, there’s no denying the film was an utter commercial success.  It grossed over $143 million in theaters worldwide, making it Tarantino’s highest-grossing film to date.  Rock on!

Although one of the film’s inspirations is the 1966 spaghetti western, Django, Django Unchained is not a remake.  Quentin even pays homage to the 1966 flick with a cameo for Franco Nero.   And remember folks that D is silent.  Set in the antebellum era of the Deep South and Old West, the movie follows the adventures of bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Waltz) and the slave he frees, Django (Foxx), as they trek across the United States collecting bounties, bonding and eventually attempting a rescue mission to free Django’s wife (Washington) from the clutches of the cruel plantation owner Calvin J. Candie (DiCaprio).  And let’s not forget all the madness, mayhem, obscenities and ultra random acts of violence you have come to know and love Tarantino for over the years.

So here’s the deal.  I got a raw deal last year.  I missed the press screening for Django Unchained, which meant I had to see it with everyone else when it came out on Christmas Day.  I know.  Boo hoo.  Well anyway, that prevented me from showing my true love and appreciation for the film as I had to turn in my Top 10 films of 2012 the very next day here and I had very little time to think about Django Unchained, much less see it another time, which I ended up doing so anyway.  So with that being said, if it were not for my love of Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and the fact that the final chapter came out last year, I’m pretty sure if I had to write my Top 10 of 2012 without Batman, Django Unchained would have been the sole contender for that coveted number one position.  And I’m not even a fan of the western genre.  LOL.  What’s happening to me?!

Now that I got that out of my system let’s talk about the basics.  Like I said above, every reason you go and sit down to watch a Tarantino film for is here.  You got the ultra tense and witty dialog.  You have the balls-to-the-wall action and violence that only Quentin can deliver.  And this time around, you got one of the most offensive films I have ever seen from racism to the most profanity you will ever enjoy from a theatrical experience.  I sank down in my seat during some scenes.  I’m not a racist person at all, but I felt extremely uncomfortable during some of the scenes and dialog.  Heck, even Samuel L. Jackson managed to offend the entire mixed and diverse moviegoing crowd.  Like Michael Jackson once said, it doesn’t matter if you are black or white, Quentin’s going to find a way to offend you here.  But does that make it a bad movie?  Heck no, this is a masterpiece and one of my favorite Tarantino pictures to date since Kill Bill and Pulp Fiction.

Even with the brilliance that is Tarantino’s writing, you still need talented actors to pull the story and sequences off.  Quentin struck gold here with this ensemble cast.  You can read Wikipedia entries and find out about everybody that at some point or another said they were attached or offered certain roles, but I’m going to focus on the truth of the matter that is the final cast in hand.  I have always loved Waltz in whatever roles he has played, but this is by far his best one in my opinion.  Jamie Foxx just seemed like a natural to me as Django.  And Leonardo DiCaprio.  Oh my God.  What can I say?  That guy brings his A-game to whatever he touches and he’s quite simply remarkable and breathtaking here.  Remember those tense scenes in Pulp Fiction and Inglourious Basterds where it seemed like a rubber band was stretched past its point of breaking?  Well wait until you see the dinner scene at Candie’s.  That’s all I have to say.  You just got to see him in action to believe it.  And Samuel Jackson…well that goes without saying.  But perhaps the biggest surprise to me was Don Johnson.  His scene with Waltz had me in stitches.  And speaking of scenes…sequence after sequence…this film is just a modern day masterpiece.  I mean it has to be if Roger Ebert gave it four stars, right?  I’m not the only one bragging about it now am I?

And last but not least I have to pay my respect to Quentin and his choices for the film’s soundtrack.  It’s not your traditional score like The Dark Knight Rises uses.  Oh no.  Tarantino hand picks these gems himself, mostly from his own vinyl collection.  If mp3’s could wear down like the cassette tapes of yesterday, mine would already have been worn completely out.  I have listened to this soundtrack non-stop since the day I downloaded it on Christmas Day.  Tarantino has stated on many occasions that he avoids using full scores of music for fear of disliking the composer’s work and rejecting it.  That makes sense.  I can respect that.  The film features both original as well as existing music tracks.  Tracks composed specifically for the film include “100 Black Coffins” by Rick Ross and features Jamie Foxx, “Who Did That To You?” by John Legend, the beautiful and haunting Italian song “Ancora Qui” by Ennio Morricone and Elisa and the victorious and fist pumping “Freedom” by Anthony Hamilton and Elayna Boynton.  Needless to say, the theme, “Django”, was also the theme song of the 1966 film.

Well I can go on and on about everything I liked about the film here in this section, but I think like the name of Barri Evin’s screenwriting class, you get the “Big Idea.”  So let’s take a closer look at the A/V specs here associated with this iTunes Digital Download and more importantly what iTunes Extras you’ll find in this April 2nd early release of easily one of my favorite films of 2012.  Moving on…

Video 

So I have to admit…things look pretty impressive here.  However, let’s be completely honest.  A Quentin Tarantino review never comes easy in the video department because of his stylistic approach to filmmaking and the way he crafts or distorts particular scenes…for artistic and storytelling purposes of course.  One can easily say it’s a 5-star score because it matches the director’s intent.  But then is that fair to give a Digital Download the same score as something that has stunningly immaculate visual quality like Avatar or Peter Jackson’s King Kong on the Blu-ray format?  You see the conundrum I’m in here?  Let’s just agree to disagree.  Things look superb here as I stated before.  Rocks are chiseled and well defined in the countryside.  Every frizzy in Foxx’s afro is remarkable visible as well as Waltz’s facial hair he constantly grooms by hand.  Even the unfortunate lashes the poor slaves receive are painstakingly realistic in appearance as well as every bead of sweat in the sizzling hot southern sun that I am now part of.  Black levels are acceptable with some compression crush here or there, but that’s to be expected with a DIgital download.  Skin tones, depending on the scene of course, are right on par.  So what’s there to b1tch and moan about here?  Not much at all!  I will say though that I’m extremely interested and curious to see how this iTunes High Definition 1080p transfer holds up to it’s big brother Blu-ray on the Blu-ray format (I hear there’s a Target exclusive Steelbook with 2012 Comic Con Hall H panel footage clocking in at 50+ minutes), but until that time…I’m going to enjoy the heck out of this presentation on every iDevice I got!

Audio 

Now I know what you are asking yourself.  Is it possible to give an audio score of a 5 to a Digital Download?  Well take heed because I just did (and I’m a lyrical poet too).  The first thing you will hear as soon as you hit play on this bad boy is Django’s theme song and I have to admit, that was music to my ears last night.  It was a like a symphony welcoming me to the pearly gates of heaven.  It’s like the best medicine money can ever buy. You get the drift.   I’m exaggerating of course, but it’s the precision placed soundtrack selections, just as much as it is Tarantino’s brilliant screenplay and the actor’s stupendous performances, that just fleshes this movie out completely in my opinion and I for one couldn’t be happier from what I heard in this 5.1 Dolby Digital surround track. Things go bump in the speakers around you.  Freedom rings with shotgun blasts.  Swish, zing and pow.  And most importantly, you can hear Fritz the horse acknowledge his name each and every time he’s introduced.  I’m just messing with you.  I really meant to say the dialog is always loud, clear and intelligible throughout.  Since I started reviewing Digital Downloads, this is the best surround track I have come across.  And I’m proud to award it my first score of a 5.  Keep up the stellar work iTunes!

Extras 

Sadly, I’m not sure why, but there’s only one behind-the-scenes featurette to be found here in this 5.89 GB download.  Boo.  But I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t at least mention it so let’s tackle it.  The iTunes Extra, playable only on your Mac or PC, includes the 13-minute featurette “Reimagining the Spaghetti Western: The Horses & Stunts of Django Unchained” and access to chapters and other movie trailers.  Sadly, once again…that’s all.  So as I was saying, the featurette clocks in at 13:47 and examines the amazing things you can do with horses if you take the time to train them.  The thing I learned about Quentin here was his love for animals.  The crew talks about how no horses were injured throughout the entire production and how Tarantino doesn’t even want to see a fly get injured.  I like the man even more now!  Even Foxx’s own personal horse gets trained as it shares screen time with his master.  The featurette also covers the subject of gun training with the actors and the quick draws are pretty spectacular, I must say.

Summary 

So there you have it.  I hope you truly enjoyed my supercalifragilisticexpialidocious iTunes HD Digital Download review of one of my favorite films from 2012, Django Unchained, enough that you give consideration to owning it now, rather than waiting another two weeks for the Blu-ray release.  Although I do see a lot of retailers offering pre-order specials on this where if you buy it now you can stream it via Vudu or something, I believe them to be only of Standard Definition quality.  However, I’m not entirely sure of that.  For me, there’s nothing holding me back from enjoying my favorite Tarantino film now on the HD Digital format on any iDevice I desire.  If the Blu-ray warrants a purchase, because of special features and whatnot, I’ll entertain that in a few weeks (the Target exclusive one of course) when the time comes and the sales ads flaunt.  But for now…I’m perfectly happy with this Digital viewing experience thus far.  I like the way you download, boy.  Get it?  I know…bad joke.  So what are you waiting for?  Do you have a better way to spend two hours and forty-five minutes of your life?  I didn’t think so.  Click on the cover art below to start enjoying Django right now or on the Amazon link to pre-order the Blu-ray.  Either way…you’re a winner!  And yes…of course I rounded up!  There are no lack of special features that are going to stop me from praising this gem.

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Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

4 Responses to “Django Unchained (iTunes HD Digital Download Review)”


  1. Gregg

    Hot damn this was a great film! My only critique is it could’ve been tightened up a bit so it wasn’t so long. There’s a good 15 minutes, at least, that could’ve been chopped but still was awesome and is Tarantino’s best work. Christoph Waltz. Amazing. DiCaprio. Awesome. Fox. The ‘D’ is silent, hillbilly!

  2. Jason

    I can’t wait to see this. Not a big fan of Jamie Foxx though, I will put that aside. Love guns, love tarantino

  3. Gerard Iribe

    I’d say to wait for the Blu-ray unless you like compression issues with your movies.

  4. Brian White

    Gerard Iribe? Darn. That name sounds familiar. Who that?