Skip to main content

The Pratfall of 'Django Unchained'

Will Smith is the most marketable movie star in the world. Between Men In Black, Independence Day, and Bad Boys Mr. Smith is the man responsible for most summer blockbusters. He is recognized everywhere and virtually liked by all. That is until the release of Seven Pounds. Seven Pounds was the follow-up collaboration between Will Smith and director Gabriele Muccino after the critical success The Pursuit of Happyness (which earned Smith his second Best Actor nomination). It was a emotionally raw performance and a brave one at that.

Unfortunately, it was also panned across the board. Despite Smith's portrayal Seven Pounds was declared melodrama at its worst. At some portions the film is unrelentingly ghoulish which makes the role of Ben Thomas that much more important to cast correctly. Ben has to be empathetic, he has to be good, but he also has to be superhumanly giving. Even with everything Smith gave to his character it wasn't enough. And for many critics the maudlin ending was too much. The film received no accolades, nor did its star.

Flash forward three years and Will Smith has been virtually invisible. Only recently he has started work on Men In Black 3 and signed deals for a Bad Boys sequel and possibly Quentin Tarantino's next western, Django Unchained. Django presents many opportunities and conflicts for the megastar. On one hand accepting the role would open the creative passage that Mr. Smith has seemingly been avoiding since Seven Pounds, but like all creative opportunities, backlash could await. Tarantino has never been known for subtlety  and Django Unchained is said to contain liberal use of racial slurs, something that could be a thorn for Smith, who manages his profile very carefully.

What it all comes down to is whether the lure of busting outside Mr. Smith's combed image will be too much to resist. The role of Django comes with some questionable material, but the part is a heroic one. Denzel Washington, known for being one of the best actors of his generation, won much acclaim, but never the big prize until Training Day. Washington has never been the man to turn down a potentially darker role and his career has benefited from it. The question will be whether Mr. Smith decides to do the same.

Popular posts from this blog

Hulk vs. The Incredible Hulk vs. The Avengers

There are two movies about the Hulk and one that features the green monster as a major player. One was made in 2003 by an auteur, starring a little-known Aussie. Five years later The Incredible Hulk came out to the same tepid reaction as Ang Lee's Hulk did. This weekend, The Avengers made the Hulk as popular as he has been in a long time. So it comes down to this: Hulk vs. Hulk vs. Hulk. Who will smash whom?

Round One: Acting
Edward Norton outshines Eric Bana as the dual persona of the meek Bruce Banner and the rage-induced Hulk. Eric Bana was given little to do but run and fight and often the audience was just waiting for him to transform. With the Incredible Hulk, Norton's Banner is fully fleshed-out and we are given a reason to care about him. Being allowed to go a little dark with Banner's scenes questioning what is left of his life provided emotional resonance to the character that Hulk lacked. Yet even with the capable performance that Norton gives there was something …

Review: The Salvation

Westerns have never recovered from the oversaturation that killed off viewer interest decades ago, but every now and then a gem pops up. Recent successes like The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, 2007’s 3:10 to Yuma and the Coen brothers adaptation of True Grit all did well because they tweaked the genre slightly, but director Kristian Levring goes with an old school approach. A faithful recreation of those revenge Westerns made so popular in the 1970s, The Salvation envelopes many elements of previous Clint Eastwood classics and wraps it into a tidy package.

The Salvation starts in on the central dilemma, joining Jon (Hannibal‘s Mad Mikkelsen) at the train station where he awaits the arrival of his wife and son. Jon and his brother, Peter (Mikael Persbrandt), have lived in the United States long enough to build a hospitable life for their family back in Denmark. This homecoming should be a sweet moment to establish the family important to Jon, but fate plays out…

Review: The Voices

Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) spends his days working the nine-to-five shift at his new job at the Milton Bathtub Factory. Jerry is chipper to the point that he may turn some people off, but he never stops trying to make friends. Friends are something that Jerry could use because the only other conversation he has is with his dog Bosco and his cat Mr. Whiskers. Things are looking up though, Jerry has been tasked with planning the company picnic and he’s asked a girl (Gemma Arterton) out on a date. Jerry is so excited to share the news he rushes home to tell his pets about Fiona. Oddly enough, both Bosco and Mr. Whiskers start talking back.

No need to go back and re-read that last sentence, yes, Ryan Reynolds has pets who talk back to him. His dog, Bosco, is quite affable, however, his cat, Mr. Whiskers, would feel right at home curled in the lap of Blofeld. Unfortunately for everyone around him, it’s the advice of the evil cat that Jerry heeds more often than not. For all of Jerry’s pleasant…