Quentin Tarantino is so beloved that four times out of five, a poster of “Pulp Fiction” can be found hanging in a film student’s dorm room. “The Hateful Eight” comes off as typical Tarantino, minus the charm and wit from previous films.
At the start, Tarantino’s love for himself is clear from the title card –“The 8th film by Quentin Tarantino” — as if to remind audiences that “genius” is more important than quantity.
Five minutes after the overly indulgent overture, a stage coach approaches The Bounty Hunter (Samuel L. Jackson) sitting on a pile of bodies. The passengers in the coach are The Hangman (Kurt Russell) and Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) a foul-mouthed murderer. So it’s okay that every five minutes or so Jackson and Russell beat her to a bloody pulp.
The three characters eventually find refuge in a stage coach lodge with five other characters. It is the events that unfold within this lodge that make up the plot of “The Hateful Eight.”
“The Hateful Eight” plays like Tarantino’s first film, “Reservoir Dogs,” with more star power and a bigger budget. Perhaps these new resources are what made the story suffer. With long, drawn out conversations, most of which lead to nowhere, the writer/director uses this film to show his poetic dialogue as if his prose has changed the face of the world itself.
It is also similar to the overrated “Django Unchained” in which Tarantino wrestled with his inner demons to understand his place in the African-American community. Though both films look at racial inequality as a terrible stain on American history, the liberal use of a certain racial slur and the fact that Tarantino is not African-American make the films come off as outrageously inappropriate.
He even goes as far as portraying the Confederate general character (Bruce Dern) as a manipulating pedophile which is, of course, revealed in a line of gratuitous banter that leads nowhere.
Tarantino’s aesthetic presents violent behavior as near parody, taking cues from stylized dramas like spaghetti westerns and exploitation. Nonetheless it is violence, making “The Hateful Eight” one of the most violent films of the year, and far from a good one.
“The Hateful Eight” opens nationwide on Wednesday, Dec. 30. It is playing at the Regal Natomas Marketplace Stadium 16, Century Stadium 14, and Century 16 Greenback Lane in Sacramento.