Total disclaimer: I didn't like Django Unchained. My dislike had nothing to do with the controversial subject matter, copious N-word usage, or slavery. It just sucked.
This surprised me because I am enthused by a lot of Quentin Tarantino's films, including the one most often compared to Django: Inglorious Basterds.
While both are chalked full of Tarantino's signatures, from random celeb cameos (Mike Meyers in Basterds and Jonah Hill in Django) to dry wit and a sticky-sweet, dessertish revenge-serving, and both deliver a stellar performance by Christopher Waltz, Basterds was a totally superior film. Although the films have been compared due to the iconic injustice the protagonists suffer and their revenge warpaths, there's really no comparison.
Top reasons why Inglorious Basterds makes Django seem like a straight-to-DVD release
1. I didn't want my blanky during Inglorious Basterds.
It was hard to watch Django and remain interested. Granted I went to a 10:30 p.m. showing with reclining seats but there were people literally snoring through some of the film.
2. The music made sense during Basterds.
Quentin Tarantino is known for taking liberties with his films but Rick Ross and Tupac hardly seemed to fit Django like a glove; it was ill-fittingly more like mom-jeans.
3. Sam Jackson excels in one performance over another.
Samuel Jackson's voiceover prowess in Basterds was better than his actual part in Django.
4. Brad Pitt.
Pitt was to Basterds what Samuel Jackson was to Django in terms of managing to stick out like a sore thumb and seeming a tad unbelievable. While Pitt embraced his thicker-than-thou accent, Jackson copious amounts of shucking and jiving seemed downright cartoonish. Hey, Pitt even managed to say "sauerkraut sa'mich" with a lot of conviction. That's talent.
5. Verbal dexterity.
The script of was Basterds was cliffhanging-ly exceptional. I couldn't keep my eyes off of the screen and while this may have something to do with the need to read the subtitles as the movie moved from language to language, I was transfixed by the ebb and flow of the banter.
6. The acting.
I'm just going to say the thing you're not supposed to say when you like other things an actor has done: Basterds contained much better acting from main characters. Jamie Foxx did not have the emotional span to keep my attention during key, Tarantino blood-lettings or when he was supposed to be demonstrating that chemical-reaction that would motivate a man to risk his life for his wife, Broom Hilda (Kerry Washington): love.
Not to be out done, (forgive me) Washington wasn't that captivating either. I may love Olivia Pope's predictable pauses and dismayed, teary-eyed, mouth-slightly-agape, expressions but this film did not.
The two not only did not look in love, they did not look they even knew each other from high school. For Foxx to claim that this was a "love story" in many interviews before the film, the love/lust/emotion needed to fuel this film must've fell victim to the cutting-room floor. I just couldn't find it.
Tarantino's Basterds was impressive but Django? Well, he probably should've been kept on the chain or relegated to a Redbox near you.