django unchained (2012)

What happens when a pitch-perfect film that's hitting all the marks hangs around for too long and changes formats in its final third? Well the result is underwhelming at best. Django Unchained, Tarantino's re-imagined entry into the Italian Django series, is a wonderful film from start to 2/3 of the way through. Its Final third, however, underestimates its own triumphs in a near-panic to satisfy an audience's, or perhaps its director's own sense of indulgence's, hunger for "awesome". A balls-to-the-wall shoot-out action finale where characters we're supposed to hate are obliterated in comical self-aware fashion may have fit if we actually had a strong opinion about the silly (yet endearing) framework of the first two hours. Yet the wispy, devilishly funny and taboo-busting jaunt that our director ended up crafting (possibly to his own surprise) doesn't need any flashy showmanship to be effective; it already was. How fitting it is, then, that a film touted as the second act of a trilogy, beginning with Inglourious Basterds, should remain equally oblivious to its own strengths and weaknesses. The initial two hours are filled with matching touches of integrity, innocence and affectation from our heroes and smug, appealingly callous villains, so sure of their stance on the now-obvious wrong side of history, that our own dichotomous feelings toward the past are equally satisfied. Yes, the deep, dark recesses of the American mythology are both on display in equal measure; our regretful understanding of the barbarous nature of our birth, as well as our fantasy of seeing imaginary justice served in the thick of oppression. Django Unchained pleases the acceptable and unacceptable sensibilities of our collective mindset, yet veers so far into over-stating its intentions by the finale that we're left cold, bored and pining for the moments where the film actually exhibited tact and perspective. What a film to enjoy, what a film to disregard, if only those credits had rolled sooner.