In Review

The Hateful Eight: lesser Tarantino film or masterpiece?

Reviews are mixed for western flick, starring Samuel L Jackson and Jennifer Jason Leigh

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The ninth major film directed by Quentin Tarantino, western The Hateful Eight, stars Samuel L Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Tim Roth.

The story is set some years after the civil war, in Wyoming. Eight strangers seek shelter during a blizzard. A three-hour film set largely in just one room, it is an ambitious undertaking.

The reviews have been mixed, with few critics inclined to offer either enthusiastic praise or outright damnation.

Several writers noted how quintessentially Tarantino the film is – including Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy.

"There is absolutely no doubt about who wrote the elaborate, pungent, profane and often funny dialogue that a fine cast chews over and spits out with evident glee," he writes, "nor as to who staged the ongoing bloodbath that becomes a gusher in the final stretch."

Variety's Peter Debruge is less approving. He finds the movie "somewhat familiar", writing: "Everything in a Tarantino movie is done with a wink, and this touch practically tips it into parody."

Of the director himself he adds: "Few helmers take greater satisfaction in reminding audiences that they are watching a movie."

The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw, though, notes wider directorial influences. There is a little of Sergio Leone in the "swaggering off-message and old-fashioned three-hour masterpiece", he says.

Bradshaw mostly likes what he sees, concluding: "'Thriller' is a generic label which has lost its force. But The Hateful Eight thrills."

Tarantino is "tinkering with Western archetypes, letting his protagonists become wry parodies of certain familiar Old West characters", says Screen Daily. The problem with this, it continues, is that "they're only sporadically funny or riveting".

Indie Wire describes the story as an "erratic doodle with a lot on its un-tempered mind" and complained that the film itself includes "unwieldy excesses". Eric Kohn argues: "For every gripping sequence, there's an abrupt development or undercooked throwaway line."

Mashable positions the work as a "lesser Tarantino film", but concedes that,to most filmmakers,  this is praise they would "cut off their ear to receive".  Taking a meteorological slant, the review concludes: "This is, above all else, a scorching entertainment set amid harsh, icy conditions."

"The Hateful Eight may frustrate some of [Tarantino's] more literally sanguine supporters," says Alonso Duralde at The Wrap, "but it's nonetheless an entertaining piece of dialogue-driven theatre — with the occasional rifle-shot to the head."

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