While Quentin Tarantino's latest movie, "Django Unchained" pairs Academy-Award winners Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz in a western loosely based on slavery, it clearly paves the way for additional dialogue on ongoing issues – namely, gun control and race relations.
But overall, the movie which has already garnered Oscar buzz for its superb acting, serves as an entertaining holiday fare that delights audiences.
The storyline, which begins in 1858 – several years prior to the Civil War and abolition of slavery – follows Django (the D is silent), played by Foxx who starts out as a beat-down, iron-shackled slave who's been separated from his beloved wife and is en-route to market for sale.
But along the way, Django is teamed with the wise and kindly German bounty hunter King Shultz (Waltz) who's masquerading as a non-practicing dentist. "Dr. King," as he calls himself, buys Django's freedom and amid backdrops of breathtaking scenery, their tale of friendship, respect, courage and sacrifice takes shape. Dr. King teaches Django the techniques of bounty hunting as he tracks a gang of outlaw brothers, who Django just happens to know by sight, and, as they trek across Texas and Mississippi gathering their bounties, the astute Django begins to realize his power as a freed man. The pair eventually sets out to win back Django's beautiful German-speaking wife Broomhilda, played by Kerry Washington.
Also providing jolts of star power to the poetic film that lends awakening to Alex Haley's "Roots," are Leonardo DiCaprio, as the cruel-streaked master Calvin Candie, and Samuel L. Jackson, who portrays Candie's loyal and trusted head servant, Stephen.
There are a handful of comedic moments in the nearly three-hour movie – such as a scene that makes a mockery of the Ku Klux Klan, and another where the cunnning Stephen is immediately suspicious of Django. In an uncharacteristic role for Jackson as the elderly servant who loves his master – Stephen sulks and kicks up a fuss upon learning that Django is a freed black who will be a guest at the sprawling Candieland plantation.
The movie also feeds off several westerns for instance, "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly," with recurrent gun violence.
But it's those bloody scenes that will surely have proponents of revamped gun control laws lining up for greater restrictions. Others might find the film's repeated use of the "N-word" a bit much as well.
Nevertheless, "Django," which brings to mind other Tarantino masterpieces like "Pulp Fiction" and "Inglourious Basterds," is well worth the ticket price -- making it easily one of the best and consistently entertaining movies of 2012.