Django Unchained – Steelbook (Blu-ray)

May 16, 2014 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton and Matt Malouf

Plot: What’s it about?

I recently had myself a little Quentin Tarantino movie-viewing spree.  And that’s saying quite a lot for someone who has a perpetual pile of “to be reviewed…” Blu-rays sitting next to the TV.  But hey, I’m a movie-lover and so it Mr. Tarantino.  I can remember the first time I saw Reservoir Dogs, not in the theater but when it came to home video.  Of course I saw Pulp Fiction and all subsequent Tarantino films (and I’m even lumping From Dusk ‘Til Dawn in there).  I guess I have to say that I like them all, but my two favorites are Pulp Fiction the Kill Bill movies (I count this as one film).  So with all the hoopla surrounding Django Unchained, I was ever so excited to see what it was all about.  Tarantino has a way of selecting actors via some rather avant garde methods.  In his own words “Studios have their list of actors that are good for about five years.  I’ve got my own list and to be on it you have to satisfy two criteria: I have to like you and you have to be alive.”  This might explain the casting of Johan Hill, Don Johnson and Tom Wopat to say the least.  However Django Unchained isn’t your typical Hollywood fare…

Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), a bounty hunter, has a mission – track down and bring in (dead or alive) the Brittle brothers.  As fate would have it, he crossed paths with a slave by the name of Django (Jamie Foxx), who proves worthy to Schultz.  The two form an unlikely partnership and Schultz trains Django in the art of bounty hunting which seems to come naturally for Django.  Of course, he (Django) also has a plan to rescue his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) from her servitude which just so happens to be in “Candyland”, a plantation run by Calvin Candy (Leonardo DiCaprio).  This begs the question: can Schultz and Django get the Brittle brothers, collect the bounty and manage to save Broomhilda from her doomed life?  Who said a German dentist and a freed slave can’t make for a good team?

I have to hand it to Quentin Tarantino, love him or hate him, the guy can come up with some original stories.  Yes, Django Unchained is his homage to the Spaghetti Westerns just as Kill Bill was to Asian Cinema and Jackie Brown to the Blaxploitation films of the 70’s.  It seems that whatever he was a fan of will one day be a movie.  Hey, that’s fine by me.  Like Oliver Stone before him, Tarantino seems to bring out the best performances in his actors.  Christoph Waltz claimed his second Best Supporting Actor (though some would argue that this role was that of a lead) Oscar and Tarantino picked up another Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for his work here.  Having said that, Django Unchained isn’t an easy movie to watch.  If you’re easily offended or have an aversion to violence this might not be for you.  But if you can distance yourself from your personal views and realize that this is one of the most uniquely original films in years, you’ll enjoy it.

Video: How’s it look?

This is an excellent transfer on all fronts. I often say that westerns (when done right) can look amazing in HD and this is no exception. The print is pristine throughout with strong and bold colors. The various outfits worn throughout the film display strong clarity and detail as well. Little specs of dust can be seen on a few occasions, stray hairs show up, stubble, you name it. It’s all shown with fine distinction. No issues here. The image is AVC encoded with a 2.40:1 ratio.

Audio: How’s it sound?

The DTS HD track is also a nice companion to the fine transfer. The music is always loud and clear with a nice kick when needed. Tarantino is known for his lengthy dialogue and that works fine here as well. Lines were always sharp and consistent. When the action kicks off and the bullets fly, it really engages you and makes you feel like you’re a part of it. As with the transfer, this track satisfies.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Since this is the same disc that is already on the market, don’t expect any new features. This is simply a steel-book repackaging on an older title. There’s no inner art, only a glossy exterior. This is also a single disc release. There’s no DVD copy or digital copy with this release. This is my first time owning the disc, so it’s nice to have it in a steel-book, but if you already own this then I’d advise sticking with the copy you have unless you must own it in the new packaging.

  • Reimagining the Spaghetti Western: The Horses & Stunts of Django Unchained – This is a fairly basic behind the scenes look that discusses the safety of the horses as well as the western genre slowly making a comeback. It offers some decent notes, but is pretty fluffy in terms of content.
  • Remembering J. Michael Riva: The Production Design of Django Unchained – We get a look at the late production designer of the film. There’s also a look at several locations used throughout the film. It’s mildly interesting. Things end with a bit of a sad note as they recall Michael’s death.
  • The Costume Designs of Sharen Davis – This is a pretty straightforward look at the wardrobes used throughout the film. It’s worth checking out if you’re interested in this kind of thing.
  • Soundtrack Promo and Tarantino XX Blu-ray Collection promo

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