Django Unchained was one of my favorite films from last year. It has a fantastic screenplay, a perfect cast, and great costumes and sets that make Django a very atmospheric movie. The Blu-ray, unfortunately, doesn’t match the quality of the picture it encompasses. With only a decent picture and passable sound, Django relies on its Bonus Content which isn’t anything worth writing home about.
Thankfully, Django Unchained didn’t lose its magic from the big screen. The movie is still fantastic in practically every way. The screenplay gave me the chills during its best moments and the cast conveys Quentin’s dialogue flawlessly. Leonardo DiCaprio’s Oscar worthy performance, Christoph Waltz’s Oscar winning performance, and Jamie Foxx and Samuel L. Jackson’s fantastic work make the movie. The rest of the cast also impressed me as well but those four scene stealers deserve an absurd amount of credit. The music has grown on me with some great fitting tunes that, along with the sets and costumes, help the atmospheric quality of the film. If you haven’t seen Django Unchained yet, get it together, and get ready to have some fun.
Unfortunately, it’s all a little downhill from here. The picture quality is certainly mixed. Everything close to the camera looks very sharp but it’s the backgrounds that fail. They’re sometimes blurry and don’t fit in with the other images on screen. I am aware that the movie was filmed in real locations and not in a studio in front of a green screen but that’s not an excuse. A little touch up here and there would’ve gone a long way.
The sound in Django is a problem. I have to turn up the volume to hear some of the character’s dialogue only to turn it back down once the next gunshot explodes out of the TV. I was never able to find a solid volume to keep the movie at and there’s nothing that will take you out of the experience more than seeing a Volume Bar constantly popping on screen. When the volume is at a nice level, there aren’t any problems to be found.
The Bonus Features in the Django Unchained Blu-ray are:
Before moving onto the Bonus Features located in the “Bonus” menu, it’s worth noting that under the “Scenes” menu you will find the “Django Unchained Music Selection.” Here you can click on a song and it will take you to that scene where the song is playing. When the song stops playing you will be returned to the “Scenes” menu instead of continuing the movie like if you select a scene under the “Scene Selection.” I’ve personally never seen this before but I think it’s an interesting and cool feature for fans of the soundtrack.
“Remembering J. Michael Riva: The Production Design of Django Unchained” (13 minutes) is a look into the environments and the props that were in Django Unchained featuring footage of the late Michael Riva. The behind the scenes looks and interviews are great and the footage of Michael and the cast and crew reflecting on Michael is heartwarming.
“Reimagining the Spaghetti Western: The Horses & Stunts of Django Unchained” (14 minutes) is all about ponies and guns;
my type of Bonus Feature. A lot of great behind the scenes footage and fun interviews make Reimagining the Spaghetti Western the best bonus feature on the disc. Very enjoyable.
“The Costume Designs of Sharen Davis” (12 minutes) is a look at the incredible costumes in Django Unchained. It’s not the most interesting feature on the disc but that doesn’t make it necessarily bad as the cast and crew are fun to watch and you do get some interesting concept art.
There are also promos for the “Tarantino XX Blu-ray Collection” (1 minute) and the “Django Unchained Soundtrack” (<30 seconds).
Overall the bonus features for Django Unchained, while solid, have their issues. The titles are misleading (Michael Riva’s passing is mentioned in the final minutes of that feature and reimagining Spaghetti Westerns was not the focus of that feature), 40 minutes isn’t too long, and no Audio Commentary saddens me especially since Quentin Tarantino is such a fun character. The content we get though is great and very enjoyable so it’s difficult to complain about that.
It’s always a shame when the Blu-ray doesn’t match the quality of the film. The blurry backgrounds, poor sound mixing, and lackluster Bonus Features hurt the Blu-ray incredibly bad. Past the nitpicks, you will find a clear picture, fine sound, and great behind the scenes footage and interviews. If you’re a fan of Django then pick up the Blu-ray. It’s still a fantastic movie but Blu-ray fans, don’t expect greatness.
For reviews and more from Petey Oneto, you can check out his blog or check back with Resident Entertainment for more of his posts in the future.