Tarantino’s masterpiece? More like his meh-sterpeice…

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Well that was disappointing. It is very hard to fathom how so many positive elements conspired to make such a mess of a movie. As with Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained, The Hateful Eight is brilliant for the first hour. Samuel L. Jackson’s verbal jousting with Kurt Russell is a joy to behold and Jennifer Jason Leigh is suitably grotesque as an incredibly unlikely femme fetale.

At the point that those three characters leave the open road and arrive at the log cabin where most of the rest of the film takes place, The Hateful Eight is engrossing, well written and laugh out loud funny in places, culminating in the high point of the whole film when Sam Jackson delivers one of his trademark booming monologues. From there though, as with Tarantino’s last two films, the whole thing collapses under the weight of the director’s smug self satisfaction. Since Kill Bill vol. 2, Tarantino has seemed to be unable to know how to adequately end a film and once again he chooses to descend into cartoonish violence.

The actors do their very best to hold it together it has to be said. Jennifer Jason Leigh and Samuel L. Jackson really are outstanding. Tim Roth has a little bit too much fun as a scenery chewing Englishman, but he just about holds up. Channing Tatum however is woefully miscast and the whole momentum of the film grinds to a halt upon his appearance. Also how many more times do we need to see Michael Madsen playing this one same character?

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By the time the mammoth running time finally runs down to the end, the characters have become such Tarantino caricatures that it is hard to care either way about their fate. When compared to the truly great directors (Coen Brothers, David Fincher), Tarantino just doesn’t have the same ability to connect with an audience and make them feel something other then ‘that scene was cool’. His style has become so insular and recognizable that he has become strangled by it, almost akin to Tim Burton.

It is time for Tarantino to step out of his comfort zone and make a film that actually has something to say rather than just a mash up of all the cool movies he has seen and enjoyed himself. The Hateful Eight is everything we have seen from him before, right down to the characters, the dialogue and the actors. Sadly the only things to change are the setting and the quality of the film.