Baby Driver (2017) Review

Baby Driver (2017)

Directed & Written by Edgar Wright

Starring: Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Jon Bernthal, Eiza González, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail.

My Opinion:

I’m so behind on movie reviews but don’t want to miss out on writing something about this one. Because it’s good! So this will be a quickie review. I’d love to hear from others who’ve seen it. More than anything, I badly need to catch up on replying to all your comments on my blog! Sorry about that. I’ll catch up on that soon. Now let’s talk a little bit about Baby Driver

I know Edgar Wright has some diehard fans thanks to his Cornetto Trilogy (I reviewed all three films together HERE). Those are great, especially Shaun Of The Dead, so it’s obvious why he has loyal fans. Baby Driver, in my opinion, is actually the best film he’s done so far. I love Shaun & it’s a great horror comedy but Baby Driver feels more timeless. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect but did think it would be a little more similar to Shaun, Hot Fuzz, World’s End, Scott Pilgrim, etc. It’s not. It’s very different. It’s not a comedy, although it does have some humorous moments (which is fine with me, as I’m not a huge fan of most comedies anyway). But it’s a kick ass crime/heist movie with great characters & a fantastic soundtrack. It’s pure entertainment, which is missing from movies far too often nowadays. But it’s not dumb Michael-Bay-Style pure entertainment – it’s pure entertainment that puts time & effort into its script, its characters, its look, and its awesome soundtrack (Did I mention its awesome soundtrack? Oh yes, I believe I did. It has an awesome soundtrack).

Baby Driver feels like it can stand alongside some of the great crime/heist thrillers of the 70s & 80s in that, 20 years from now, I think it will be seen the same way that we see things like The French Connection nowadays (although I’ve never actually seen that – I better add that to Blind Spot 2018!). Or… Perhaps Walter Hill’s The Driver (which I’ve also never seen) since Wright gave Hill a cameo in this film. Oh! Yes, I just checked IMDb trivia to verify. I wanted to know Wright’s influences for Baby Driver:

“This film drew inspiration from The Driver (1978), Raising Arizona (1987), The Blues Brothers (1980), and Riding Bean (1989).”

Well, Walter Hill’s The Warriors easily remains my absolute favorite older film that I watched for the very first time since starting my blog almost five years ago, so… Hill’s The Driver is probably worth a watch as Wright clearly has good taste since he’s made such a good film. Oh – and he also gave Paul Williams a small role in this as well. You know – the Rainbow Connection, Phantom Of The Paradise Paul Williams (you young bloggers don’t know who I’m on about). Wright’s influences are obvious (and similar to the things I like seeing as we’re a similar age, I guess) and his love of films & music really shows in how he’s made Baby Driver. It reminds me of how Tarantino makes his films: as a nerdy superfan. And that’s the way it should be. If you love your job, it’s going to be obvious in the final product that you produce.

I liked Baby Driver a lot and I’d say it’s probably my number one movie of 2017 so far but I’m not sure if I exactly loved it in the same way I loved the insanely fun & action-packed Mad Max: Fury Road a couple of years ago. I compare them as it seems like I should feel similar about two really great action films, which is a genre that often disappoints me. I really liked the characters in Baby Driver and I always adore a good love story. In this case, there are several and the girl/boy love story isn’t necessarily my favorite. Baby’s love for a pretty waitress is nice but we also see his love for his mother, his foster father, driving, and MUSIC. I’m going to connect with any movie that shows as much passion for music as this one does. I can’t think of any other movies that have focused on the love of music so much (without the story actually being about music). It works really well so I’m not sure why the film didn’t quite connect with me as much as I expected it to. I do think it’s a film that will grow on me, though, and I’d happily watch it again sometime to see if my opinion changes at all. I can certainly see why the movie has had so much love already as it feels very unique despite having such obvious influences. As I said, I do believe Baby Driver is a film that will stand the test of time & possibly be even more respected in future years than it is now.

My Rating: 8.5/10

**Hmm. I think Baby Driver would probably make it somewhere onto my list of My Top Ten Movies With Song Title Titles 🙂

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Kung Fu Panda 3, The House Of Magic, Rio 2 & Muppets Most Wanted Movie Reviews

I have four quickie kids’ film reviews for you today! I promise they’ll be quick. Why? Because I barely remember three of them.

I’ve just seen Kung Fu Panda 3 so that review will be a little longer than the rest. You see, I get a little annoyed when I look at the pages on my blog & see that I still have some movies that I watched but never reviewed on the 2014 page & the 2015 page (never mind the 2016 page! I’m way behind). It’s especially annoying that the only movies that I actually went to the cinema to see but then didn’t review were these three 2014 kids’ movies. They were so “meh” that I guess I couldn’t be bothered.

So, here we go! I’ll finally say something about them two years later. I’m limiting myself to one paragraph each for the three older ones (plus my kid’s opinion on each). But let’s start with the longer review for the most current film (and by far the best of the four)…

Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)

Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson & Alessandro Carloni

Starring: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, J. K. Simmons, James Hong, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, Seth Rogen, David Cross, Bryan Cranston, Kate Hudson

From: DreamWorks Animation

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Continuing his “legendary adventures of awesomeness”, Po must face two hugely epic, but different threats: one supernatural and the other a little closer to his home.

My Opinion:

I actually thought this movie was really good. As far as DreamWorks movies go, at least. I’ve stated here before how I see DreamWorks movies as strictly kids’ films while I view Pixar & most Disney ones as just being great films overall for every age group. Like, I wouldn’t feel weird discussing both WALL-E & Citizen Kane in the same breath. Except, I’ve not seen Citizen Kane… Never mind.

What I liked about Kung Fu Panda 3 is that, while it has a message as does every kids’ movie, it didn’t let the message get in the way of the movie being fun and actually making kids laugh. The previous movie we went to as a family was Disney’s Zootropolis (aka Zootopia) & I did NOT expect to think a DreamWorks film was far better than a Disney one! But that’s the case this time.

Kung Fu Panda 3 hasn’t forgotten that, first & foremost, it’s meant to be aimed at kids. I felt that Zootropolis completely forgot this while trying to drive its message home with a convoluted plot and uninteresting characters. But Kung Fu Panda 3 isn’t dumbed down for kids, either, which is a big pet peeve of mine. Kids aren’t stupid & shouldn’t be treated that way. The jokes were all age-appropriate without being dumb but also not being too grown-up like things such as the Godfather references in Zootropolis.

I have to admit that Kung Fu Panda 3 was even enjoyable to me as an adult who probably wouldn’t watch many animated films not made by Disney or Pixar if I didn’t have a kid. I do love Jack Black (I don’t care about the haters!) and think he’s been perfect as Po in all these films. I think all the characters are strong & really like the setting and the look. In this one, the baby pandas are adorable & even had grumpy me going “aww”. The baddie in this one was also pretty cool, as were his storyline & all the chi stuff. Plus I’m a sucker for the color green. Here’s the baddie:

I’d even go so far as to say that I like the Kung Fu Panda movies the most out of all the ones made by DreamWorks. I find Shrek a little overrated and I’d say that the How To Train Your Dragon films are possibly their “best” work but they’ve never really clicked with me at all (or the kid). But all three of us have enjoyed each of the three Kung Fu Panda movies.

My Rating: 7/10

My Kid’s Opinion: She liked this movie a lot & giggled through the whole thing. She was far more enthusiastic about this one than she was after walking out of Zootropolis, which she called “not very good”. Her favorite part was Po doing his “chitty chitty chat chat” thing that she’s been annoying us with ever since (thanks a lot, Jack Black!). She also loved the baby pandas, especially when they ate everything in sight. She’s not watched the first two films since we went to see them but this one has renewed her interest (and mine!) in watching those again. I’d happily pick them up on DVD now – I think this is a very solid trilogy from DreamWorks.

The House Of Magic (2013) (US Title: Thunder And The House Of Magic)

Directed by Jeremy Degruson & Ben Stassen

Starring: Cinda Adams, George Babbit, Murray Blue, Kathleen Browers, Joey Camen, Grant George, Shanelle Gray, Nina Grillo, Kyle Hebert

From: nWave Pictures, StudioCanal

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The House of Magic is a 2013 3D Belgian-French computer-animated fantasy-comedy film. The film focuses on an abandoned young cat who seeks shelter in the home of an old, retired magician with his automatons and gizmos.

My Opinion:

I admit to not fully remembering the plot of this strange little Belgian/French film (which was in English but I assume originally in French?) two years later. But I clearly remember the kind old magician, the cat he adopts, and the man’s REALLY cool magical toys (automatons and gizmos) such as that adorable lightbulb dude in the photo at the very top of this post. I also remember some great songs being used quite prominently (The Lovecats by The Cure & the always catchy House Of Fun by Madness). It’s not some big Disney, DreamWorks, etc production and that does show but I still thought that the characters, the music, and especially those inventive toys were pretty damn good! I wonder if those who made this have gone on to do more animated films? I’d like to see this sort of thing with a bigger budget. It’s a very sweet & charming film from what I remember. I wouldn’t complain at being made to watch it again.

My Rating: 6/10

My Kid’s Opinion: She doesn’t now remember much of this but does remember all those really cool toys that I mentioned above. She said she’d like to watch it again too (fine with me – I’ll pick up the DVD if I see it).

Rio 2 (2014)

Directed by Carlos Saldanha

Starring: Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro, Andy García, Bruno Mars, Jemaine Clement, Kristin Chenoweth, George Lopez, Tracy Morgan, will.i.am, Jamie Foxx

From: Blue Sky Studios

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
It’s a jungle out there for Blu, Jewel and their three kids after they’re hurtled from Rio de Janeiro to the wilds of the Amazon. As Blu tries to fit in, he goes beak-to-beak with the vengeful Nigel, and meets his father-in-law.

My Opinion:

Wow. I really remember very little of this except that I think it was about saving the rainforest, right? I don’t remember the first one either – I only know that these Rio movies are very bright & colorful and have some big musical numbers that are okay. This is from Blue Sky, whose movies are quite similar to DreamWorks in that I see them strictly as films aimed at kids and only truly enjoyed by kids. The only Blue Sky one I really liked was The Peanuts Movie but that’s because I’m obsessed with Peanuts & the movie stayed very true to its spirit. Don’t get me wrong – these Rio movies aren’t bad. They’re very pretty to look at & not the worst way to spend a couple of hours with your kid but I don’t think they’re very memorable. I’d have to say that the Ice Age films are a stronger series from this studio as the characters are better. Also, could they get a more annoying set of voice actors for Rio? Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Leslie Mann & Kristin Chenoweth(!!)?? Ugh. I think I remember Eisenberg’s bird kids in this being quite cute, though…

My Rating: 5.5/10

My Kid’s Opinion: She says she liked this although she couldn’t remember the specifics of it now. She said “I liked the pink frog!” (Ugh. Kristin Chenoweth.) I think it’s proof that the Rio films are pretty & enjoyable enough while being watched but are ultimately forgettable.

Muppets Most Wanted (2014)

Directed by James Bobin

Starring: Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, Tina Fey, The Muppets

From: Walt Disney Pictures

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
While on a grand world tour, The Muppets find themselves wrapped into an European jewel-heist caper headed by a Kermit the Frog look-alike and his dastardly sidekick.

My Opinion:

I grew up with The Muppet Show so I of course love The Muppets. Who doesn’t?! The Muppets movie in 2011 (2012 here) was pretty good. It was fun and managed to kind of capture the spirit of the original show (plus I like Amy Adams). But I found Muppets Most Wanted really disappointing even though it was great, as always, to see these beloved characters. The problem was the messy, boring story and the fact that I really didn’t like the main real-life stars. Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell & Tina Fey? How do you go from Amy Adams to some TV stars? Never been a fan of any of them (in fact, who is Ty Burrell anyway? That prick in Dawn Of The Dead??). I just think they made a real mess of this movie – I’ll stick to watching my DVDs of the original show.

My Rating: 5.5/10

My Kid’s Opinion: She remembers this one more than I thought she would! She remembers the plot & the evil Kermit with the mole. She likes The Muppets & says she liked this movie. Maybe I should give it another try…

This is her favorite Muppet-related thing. I agree:

**I’d like to finally take this opportunity to draw attention to a favorite blogger of mine here who does fantastic paintings of The Muppets (and loads of other awesome artwork with a focus on pop culture – but I first started following him because of The Muppets). Please have a look at Scott’s site at Mojoswork.com. You can see all his Muppets artwork HERE.

Scott – I’m sorry it took me two years to finally get around to doing this review! Let me know if you want me to add any more info or if you want me to include a specific Muppets image you’ve done. 🙂 Oh! Scott does a lot of wrestling & sports stuff as well and I thought his History Of The WWF was absolutely amazing despite knowing nothing of that sort of thing myself (MIB – you should really check this out).

I figure I should end this with some Madness since I have House Of Fun in my head after talking about The House Of Magic. I miss this era of music!

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) Review & Poll

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The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Directed by Marc Webb

Based on Spider-Man by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko

Starring:
Andrew Garfield
Emma Stone
Jamie Foxx
Dane DeHaan
Colm Feore
Felicity Jones
Campbell Scott
Embeth Davidtz
Paul Giamatti
Sally Field

Running time: 142 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Not much different from The Amazing Spider-Man (2012). And I’m too lazy to write a synopsis.

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My Opinion:

I remembered writing a bit about The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) somewhere on this blog. I found the post! I started this blog at the end of 2012 so I just did a round-up of every film I’d seen that year (And ranked them from my favorite to least favorite. Those who know me know I’m anal like that). 😉 Anyway, that post is HERE and it makes for more interesting reading than the very little bit I said about The Amazing Spider-Man, which I ranked as the 18th best movie I went to in 2012 & gave a 6/10. I actually thought I’d liked it more than that! Hmm… This was my in-depth analysis: “Not actually that bad, but… What’s the point?? Do prefer Andrew Garfield to Tobey Maguire, though.

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Well, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is pretty similar to the last one. As I say at the start of every superhero movie review I do, I’ve never read a comic book so all my knowledge is only of the films I’ve seen. All I’ve really ever known of Spider-Man is what I saw in the Tobey Maguire movies (I still do NOT understand why they’ve done this whole reboot). Anyway, I enjoyed those just fine. Can’t say I’ve watched any of them since going to them, though, and I never really bought into Maguire.

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So far, I feel pretty much the same way about the Garfield films – I’ve enjoyed them so far but it’s unlikely that I’ll be re-watching them anytime soon. They’re fun popcorn movies but I don’t enjoy them to the same degree as the Avengers films or the X-Men films. I do still prefer Andrew Garfield to Tobey Maguire, though.

FYI: I casually mentioned on Twitter that I’d seen this movie & ended up discussing the whole Maguire vs Garfield thing for a good couple of hours. I’ll go into detail on this at the end of the review plus there’ll be a POLL! You can vote for Team Maguire or Team Garfield. Go team Garfield! 😉

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I do think this second Amazing Spider-Man is a slight improvement over the first one. I thought the villains and the big showdowns were better. They did a good job further developing the Gwen Stacy/Peter Parker romance plus his relationship with his aunt. The villains didn’t feel very developed, though, but this is often a problem with superhero films anyway. And Jamie Foxx was a bit weird as a total Poindexter nerd.

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I’m not sure what else to say about this. I do still feel this reboot is pointless but it doesn’t mean these new films are BAD… If the others didn’t exist, people would like the Andrew Garfield ones more than they seem to. To be honest, I just want to start talking about the Twitter debate now because that was pretty entertaining. 😉

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is fun, as was the first one. It’s not going to change the world but it’s light entertainment. I had fun with it & there are far worse ways to spend a couple of hours.

My Rating: 7/10

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ANDREW GARFIELD vs TOBEY MAGUIRE: THE BIG DEBATE

So, after seeing this movie last Tuesday, I casually mentioned to my usual group of Twitter buddies that I’d seen it. Bloody hell – I didn’t expect to spend a good chunk of the rest of the day arguing about who was the better Spider-Man: Andrew Garfield or Tobey Maguire. But it was fun and that’s what I love about this little group of people – I think I enjoyed the Twitter debate more than the movie. 😉

So I’ve chosen just one quote from each person as the debate went on for ages. And at the very end of this post, you’ll find a poll so you can vote for your favorite Spider-Man of the two. If you want to also put your choice in the comments below, I can add you to TEAM MAGUIRE or TEAM GARFIELD here & link to your blog.

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TEAM MAGUIRE:

Brian at Hard Ticket To Home Video:

I was considering adding the choice of “Team Don’t Give A Fuck” as this is the team Brian declared he was on after spending a good couple of hours making it pretty clear he was very much NOT Team Garfield. Lol! Gotta love Brian. Here’s my favorite Brian quote. Note the time – 7:26 pm. My first post about going to the movie was at 1:50 pm. I think I just wore him out! Bwahaha! 😉

https://twitter.com/dr_goodtimes/status/458673224994533376

Eric at The IPC:

Eric seems to think Andrew Garfield is a teenage girl. This was Eric’s main argument throughout the day. Funny how all the girls are on Team Garfield. I think the boys may just be jealous of Garfield’s lovely big, brown, puppy dog eyes…

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TEAM GARFIELD:

Me at Cinema Parrot Disco:

The tweet that started it all…

Zoe at The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger:

After Brian & Eric had a go at me on the Garfield thing for a bit, I was very relieved when Zoe came to my rescue!

Mike at Screenkicker:

THEN, as a huge surprise, Mike showed up and agreed with us girls! We weren’t expecting that! Yay, Mike!

Cara at Silver Screen Serenade:

Cara wasn’t around until later in the day and we were all dying to know which team she was on. Well, I was at least. Lol. Luckily, she chose wisely…

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UNDECIDED:

(Never got an exact answer from these two. If either of you wish to pick a side, I’ll move you to the appropriate place). 😉

Seth at Kloipy Speaks:

In a bit of a “Brian move”, this is the reply I got from Seth when I asked for everyone to choose a side “for the record” as I planned to mention the Twitter debate in my review. Lol!

Melissa at Snap Crackle Watch:

Melissa was more interested in another conversation that started up in which I reminded Zoe that she should watch the film Never Let Me Go, starring Garfield. I think we’d all like to read the book it’s based on. 😉

PICK YOUR SIDE:

Django Unchained (2012) Review

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Django Unchained

Directed by Quentin Tarantino

Starring:
Jamie Foxx
Christoph Waltz
Leonardo DiCaprio
Kerry Washington
Samuel L. Jackson
Walton Goggins
Dennis Christopher
James Remar
Michael Parks
Don Johnson

Running time: 165 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)

Set in the antebellum era of the Deep South and Old West, the film follows a freed slave (Foxx) who treks across the United States with a bounty hunter (Waltz) on a mission to rescue his wife (Washington) from a cruel plantation owner (DiCaprio).

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My Opinion:

Django Unchained got second place after Stoker when I asked all of you which film I should review next. Sorry it’s still taking me a bit of time to get around to these reviews.

I should maybe re-watch this one as I saw it in the cinema back in January but I remember it well anyway. I still consider it my favorite film of 2013 (UK release date). But it’s one of the only 2013 movies that I didn’t review. I have a strange relationship with Tarantino films – I think they’re brilliant but I also can’t fully watch any of them as I’m a mega wuss about violence. Figure that one out… Plus so many people love Tarantino and there will be tons of great reviews online from people who are proper writers and I don’t know what I could really add to all that. So, as usual, I’ll just discuss what I personally liked about the film.

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I’ll get right to it and say that there’s ONE very specific thing that made me really go for this movie even though I literally “saw” less of this than probably any other Tarantino film as I found the violence in this one the most disturbing yet & didn’t even look at the screen for a couple entire scenes (the “Mandingo” fight for one – the sound effects alone were enough to make me feel ill). I think everyone knows what I’m going to say that one specific thing is as I think most people agree:

CHRISTOPH WALTZ

He’s brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. I have to say I’m not one to worship actors – I just like movies. I do have some favorite actors, of course, and a few actors who will make me actually watch a film they’re in (or, more often, avoid one). But I just enjoy watching movies I think are good and for the most part don’t care who’s in them as long as the actors fit the part and they’re not really horrible at acting and they’re not Tom Cruise.

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But… Oh my god I love Waltz in Tarantino films! I know that not ALL the credit can go to Waltz, though – As many people have already said, there’s just something about a Tarantino script combined with Waltz’s acting that’s just the perfect fit. I really need to watch Inglourious Basterds again – the scene with Waltz at the beginning was so intense (I barely watched that scene. Sorry – I just couldn’t! My heart was pounding like crazy).

I love the character of Dr King Schultz in Django Unchained. He’ll go down as one of the all-time best characters with one of the all-time greatest performances (in my opinion but, hey, he did win an Oscar for it). This is why poor Jamie Foxx seems so overlooked in the title role – He was fine but he just didn’t quite have that special “something” that Waltz has so his performance naturally pales in comparison.

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Before I go on kissing Waltz’s ass too much, there was one other performance that I also felt was worthy of at least an Oscar nomination: Leonardo DiCaprio. Why does he keep getting overlooked? Is it because he’s a former “heartthrob”? I’m not exactly a Leo fan but I think he’s had some amazing performances in a variety of films and Django Unchained is one of them.

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As for the film itself, I liked the overall story. I like revenge (Kill Bill being my favorite Tarantino film) and I like some good old-fashioned “rescue the helpless woman” sometimes as it’s set in the old West (or old South). I found the “Blazing Saddles” type of comic relief scene with the masks funny, all the stuff at Candyland was great, Don Johnson was actually not bad and, as already mentioned, DiCaprio and especially Waltz were brilliant and a joy to watch whenever they were on screen (which was quite a lot, luckily).

Tarantino’s role was a bit embarrassing, the violence was too much for me, and I’m not 100% sure if it’s okay to like Samuel L Jackson’s character or not. I love the guy (I’ve had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane!) but that role was probably getting into iffy territory and I’m so not going there – there’s already been enough talk of the excessive use of the N word in this so I’ll leave that to intelligent people to dissect. I also felt that Django Unchained lost its way a bit in the last 45 minutes or so – it started to feel a little overlong and seemed to not be completely sure how to end although I found it a satisfying enough conclusion.

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Summary:

Django Unchained is another great film from Tarantino with a brilliant script and excessive violence than can be a little hard to watch. But I suffer through the violence as I think Tarantino is one of today’s most talented filmmakers. I’ve never watched classic Westerns but did force myself to watch the excellent Once Upon A Time In The West for the first time a couple months ago and it’s made me appreciate Django Unchained even more and made me want to further explore the influences on the film. Django Unchained isn’t a perfect film and does lose its way toward the end but with such a mesmerizing performance from Christoph Waltz, who cares? The man is amazing.

My Rating: 8.5/10

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See where Django Unchained ranks in My Top Five Films Directed By Quentin Tarantino.

My Shitty Django Unchained Haiku:

To rescue his love
Django and Schultz hunt bounty
The D is silent