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'The Hateful Eight' Film Review: Tarantino unchained

December 21, 2015Ben MK

The spirit of classic cinema is alive in Quentin Tarantino's eighth feature, aptly titled The Hateful Eight, a film that boasts a killer cast and monumental vistas shot in "glorious" Ultra Panavision 70. A throwback to a bygone era of movie-making, the film is being released to select theaters complete with an overture, an intermission and six minutes of additional footage. But for those who only manage to catch the film in its general release, chances are that just as enjoyable a time will be had.

Set not long after the end of the Civil War, The Hateful Eight begins with a stagecoach trying to outrun a brutal Wyoming blizzard. Aboard it, John "The Hangman" Ruth (Kurt Russell), who's on his way to the town of Red Rock to collect the $10,000 bounty that's been placed on the head of his captive, notorious murderer Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Soon, however, the film's setting shifts indoors, when Ruth, Daisy and their driver, O.B. (James Parks), find themselves holed up in Minnie's Haberdashery along with six relative strangers, some more suspicious than others.

Among them we find Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson), a former fighter for the North who knows what it's like to have a bounty on one's head; Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), the new Sheriff of Red Rock; Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), the hangman of Red Rock; Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), a man claiming to be on his way home to visit his mother for Christmas; General Sandy Smithers (Bruce Dern), a former Southern commander; and, last but not least, SeƱor Bob (Demian Bichir), the man in charge of the cabin that will be their shelter from the storm for the next few days.

Convinced that at least one of these men has intentions to free his prisoner, Ruth sets out to uncover the snake in their midst. But in a place where no one is as they seem, can he deduce the truth before Daisy's accomplice has a chance to strike? The film challenges audiences to do the same, unfolding over the course of six chapters, each one funnier, bloodier and more twisted than the last. But if you think you already know how things will turn out based on last year's infamous script leak, think again. Sufficient alterations have been made, making it difficult to guess how things will ultimately turn out.

Still, even if you are able to figure out the film's twists and turns before they happen, The Hateful Eight proves to be a magnificently entertaining piece of cinema, thanks to spellbinding cinematography and a captivating score from Tarantino's frequent collaborators Robert Richardson and Ennio Morricone, as well as especially mesmerizing performances from Jackson, Goggins and Leigh. And of course, let's not forget the film's over-the-top carnage, as the bloody climax rivals even that of Tarantino's last movie, 2012's Django Unchained. Yes, there's even an exploding head or two.

Speaking of Django Unchained, that film's racial themes do carry over here. Sadly, there is no Jamie Foxx cameo, as cool as that might have been to see. You will, however, find Foxx's White House Down co-star, Channing Tatum, playing a relatively small but important role in one of the movie's later chapters. In a way, his appearance is just about as mainstream as The Hateful Eight gets, which is to say that this three-hour, violence-and-profanity-laden Western really pushes the envelope. Then again, this is Tarantino we're talking about... What else would you expect?

The Hateful Eight opens in limited release on December 25th, 2015 from eOne Films. The film has an MPAA rating of R for strong bloody violence, a scene of violent sexual content, language and some graphic nudity. Its runtime is 3 Hrs. 2 Mins.

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