Django Unchained (Now in theaters…)
Quentin Tarantino has a habit of writing movies that the critics or some small band of people are upset by. When I saw the previews for this movie back during the early part of last summer I knew that it was going to be a movie that would set some off. Tarantino’s love for cinema, especially from the 60’s and 70’s is prevalent in everything that he was committed to film thus far and I wasn’t too surprised to hear that director Spike Lee took umbrage with the subject matter, but it seems to me that most things these days do little more than upset him, rather than make him happy.
So let’s talk a little bit about Django Unchained…Set two years before the Civil War the movie deals with a German born bounty hunter, by the name of Doctor King Schultz who is looking for a trio of brothers, but for whom he hasn’t seen. It comes to his attention that a slave named ‘Django’ who has met the brothers and after securing Django from his current owners in a no-nonsense fashion before setting the other slaves free and confessing that they should move quickly to more enlightened areas of the country. Doctor King confesses that in Germany they don’t have slaves and the whole idea seems appalling to him, he offers Django a trade: If the newly freed Django will lead him to the brothers, he will pay him the sum of twenty-five dollars per brother and give him a horse.
Django takes the offer and through basic human kindness you see the two of them bond as the movie unfolds. Their friendship grows and eventually it is revealed the Django’s wife is still enslaved and Doctor King takes him in as his partner in the bounty hunter trade, educating the formerly uneducated slave and agreeing to help Django rescue his wife from the plantation owner that now owns her. The movie takes several twists and turns before coming to its inevitable ending.
So does the movie actually work without being offensive to everyone involved? The answer depends largely on your mindset, I would suppose. Nothing happens or is said in the movie that unfortunately didn’t happen or get said to people in real life. The actors are all incredible in the roles that they play in the movie, including Jamie Foxx who you watch transform as the movie plays out. His partner Doctor King is the only person who treats Django like a human being and you see the admiration, love and friendship grow between the two. Both actors are a credit to their profession, but to me the movie is stolen by Leonardo Dicaprio as what can only be described as an evil Colonel Sanders. This is the first time that I can ever remember watching a movie with Dicaprio in it and wishing someone would kill the character.
Certainly not for the weak of heart, watch at your own risk.
4 stars out of 5.
Dredd (Now in video stores and your local Redbox….)
My exposure to Judge Dredd (a character born from 2000 A.D. Comics in Britain…) came from two places, the first was the ‘Anthrax’ song, ‘I am the Law’, which is about Judge Dredd comic books and then the comics themselves. Bound in phonebook sized black and white graphic novels during the 80’s I used to read them while frequenting the ‘Fantasy Emporium’ comic book store in downtown Cincinnati. Judge Dredd was the British version of what Clint Eastwood (ala ‘Dirty Harry’…) would have been like in a post-apocalyptic world. And man did I love seeing some old fashioned street justice as the Judges were one-man law-enforcement specialist deputized to act as Judge, Jury and if need be executioner.
You might be familiar with the character from that abomination that Sylvester Stallone made in the mid-1990s. I’d strongly suggest forgetting about that and focusing on the following fact. In the Judge Dredd mythos, Dredd never takes his helmet off; the idea is that the true face of Justice is never seen in the enforcement of the law. I sort of like the concept, you never see Dredd wandering around his apartment in his underwear drinking beer and complaining about who won the super-bowl. He’s always Judge Dredd….
So is the movie better than steaming pile of trash that Stallone made years ago? Oh yeah, much better. First off Mega-City-1 (the city the comics are set in…) doesn’t look like the cast off movie backlot of Michael Keaton’s Bat-man set. They used real world environments in South Africa to make it look like Hell. Secondly and this is probably more important than anything else, Karl Urban (who plays Judge Dredd in the movie…) can actually act. Unlike Stallone who is good for one liners and extreme on camera violence but who had a real problem with keeping Dredd’s trademark helmet on, Urban never takes the Helmet off and you never see ‘Dredd’ having to converse with Rob Schneider in this film. (Thank God….)
The movie is basically Judge Dredd meets ‘Training Day’ with Dredd taking a rookie Judge out on his first day and the two of them getting embroiled in a nightmare of a situation.
Karl Urban is a shark in this movie eating though the scenery and kicking all kinds of ass to make this movie work. Lena Headley (formerly from Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and 300) is evil on two long legs as the gang leader ‘Mama’. If you have some time and wish to push the painful memory of Sylvester Stallone from your mind, go to Redbox or your local video store and get this one today!
3½ stars out of 5, He gives law with his lawgiver…
Keith Kilburn and his wife, Dawn, live in Leesburg with two cats and dog named Godzilla. He’s written for Herorealm.com before they were bought out by corporate interests and has written a novel that he’s working on publishing. It’s rumored that he’s seen more movies than Blockbuster rents in a year and knows more about comic books than Stan Lee himself!