Quentin Tarantino’s antebellum western arrives on Blu-ray and DVD just a few months after Tarantino won the Academy Award for the film for Best Original Screenplay. Tarantino has actually referred to the film as his "southern" rather than western, which is apropos given that most of the events in the film transpire in Mississippi and Tennessee. Tarantino seems determined to make films in many different genres in his career, and Django Unchained demonstrates his diverse range in handling material well.
Distributed By: Anchor Bay
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Run Time: 2 Hrs. 46 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy, UltraViolet
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 04/16/2013
Django (Jamie Foxx) is a slave in 1958 when he is rescued by Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), a former dentist who works as a bounty hunter. Django knows the Brittle brothers by sight, and can help Schultz find them to collect the bounty on their heads. Schultz eventually takes Django under his wing and teaches him to be a bounty hunter, and then agrees to help Django find his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), after she was sold to another plantation and separated from Django. Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) is the plantation owner who has Broomhilda, and Candie’s senior house slave Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson) does his best to thwart Django’s rescue plans. Christoph Waltz won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for this film, after winning the same award for his performance in Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. The excellent cast also includes performances by Don Johnson, James Remar, Lee Horsley, Jonah Hill, and Russ Tamblyn.Django Unchained is inspired in part by Sergio Corbucci’s film Django (1966). Tarantino has always been a big fan of Corbucci’s films, and spaghetti westerns in general. Franco Nero played the lead role in Django and has a cameo role in this film, although there is no apparent relationship between Corbucci’s Django and Tarantino’s Django, other than having the same name. Tarantino has been quoted in interviews as saying that John Shaft (he’s a bad mother...) is a direct descendant of his Django and Broomhilda von Shaft.Tarantino’s films are noted for their eclectic selections of music in their film scores, and Django Unchained is no exception. Tarantino has even borrowed the theme song from Corbucci’s Django, as well as a number of compositions by Ennio Morricone. The score also includes music composed by Jim Croce, John Legend, and Ludwig von Beethoven. The menu selection for scenes offers a helpful option for locating music in the film, which is also helpful in identifying the source of the music to interested viewers.Django Unchained is an entertaining western (or “southern” if you prefer) that does not make any pretense of civility and enlightenment for the 19th Century. Tarantino’s original screenplay shows his talent for creating interesting scenarios for his characters and allows the viewers to see these scenes play out, often unexpectedly, in the snappy dialogue and unpredictable actions of his players. Django Unchained is not for the squeamish since it depicts more than its fair share of viscera and torture, but Tarantino is not reputed for shying away from controversial material.
The Production Rating: 4/5
Django Unchained appears on Blu-Ray in its original 2.40:1 aspect ratio in a transfer that is near reference quality. The only seeming flaw is an anomaly visible as a short yellow horizontal line towards the right side of the screen at approximately the 2:28:50 mark. The line disappears for a moment as Tarantino’s character passes from left to right in the foreground, which suggests that it is a light reflection on the camera lens that went unnoticed at the time of filming.
Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA
The English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio delivers a crisp soundtrack. There is ample gunplay in this film and the crystal clear audio has a good mix that delivers punch with the sound effects, full dynamic range with the music, and dialogue usually appropriately audible.
Audio Rating: 4.5/5
The special features are all in 1080p and include the following:Remembering J. Michael Riva: The Production Design of Django Unchained (12:50): Production designer Riva appears briefly in footage shot before he passed away during production of the film. Cast and crew also appear to comment on his contributions to the visual look of the film.Reimagining the Spaghetti Western: The Horses and Stunts of Django Unchained (13:46): A featurette on the horse stunts that confirms that no animals were harmed in the making of this film.The Costume Designs of Sharen Davis(12:03): This featurette shows the wide range of wardrobe created for this film.20 Years In The Making: The Tarantino XX Blu-ray collection(1:25): This is a commercial for the collection of all of Tarantino’s feature films prior to Django Unchained.Django Unchained soundtrack spot(0:21): This is a short commercial for the CD soundtrack of the film.Also included is a DVD on the second disc as well as Ultraviolet and Digital Copy for those who are so inclined.
Special Features Rating: 2/5
Django Unchained is a worthwhile addition to Tarantino’s filmography. The film clocks in at almost 3 hours but, even at that, does not overstay its welcome. The video and audio presentations are close to reference quality. The special features are disappointingly sparse, but a comprehensive edition featuring extensive participation by Tarantino will certainly appear within a few years’ time. Until that special edition arrives circa 2015, Django Unchained on Blu-ray is recommended for fans of Tarantino in particular as well as fans of westerns in general.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewed By: Timothy E
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