Quentin Tarantino is back with a vengeance, as it were. His latest film, opening in limited release on Christmas, takes place on the snowy plains of Wyoming and deals with themes of betrayal and revenge, Western-style.
Among contemporary Hollywood directors, none are like Quentin Tarantino when it comes to paying homage to those who have come before him and have paved the way for his iconic style.
Inspired by the 1960 Western classic "The Magnificent Seven" featuring Yul Brynner and directed by John Sturges, a film which in turn had been based on Akira Kurosawa's 1954 Japanese epic "The Seven Samurai," Tarantino has taken yet another go at playfully integrating silver screen legends with his latest film, "The Hateful Eight."
His one-upmanship isn't limited to turning Sturges' seven pistoleros into eight post US civil war rebels, but also extends to incorporating some of Kurosawa's original spirit. Tarantino, who professes his limitless appreciation for special interest genres highlighting American culture, from the Wild West to the Swinging Sixties, also has a major soft spot for Asian cinema.
Snowed in at the stagecoach outpost, the protagonists discover that theirs is perhaps not a chance meeting
As was the case in his previous movie, "Django Unchained," Tarantino's most recent film also revolves around the character of a bounty hunter, played by Kurt Russell. As he accompanies a fugitive murderess to trial, the two get caught in a snowstorm while travelling through Wyoming. After finding refuge in a abandoned stagecoach outpost, the pair encounter a group of dubious rebels. The intricate storyline unfolds and escalates into Tarantino's signature themes of deception, betrayal and revenge.
Big names, bigger performances
As per usual, Tarantino's finesse lies in a clever script that revolves around witty dialogue suspended somewhere between his unmistakable dry sense of humor and utter lunacy.
Outstanding performances delivered by all cast members, stretching from some of Hollywood's old guard (Russell and Bruce Dern) to newcomers (Demian Bichir) and current superstars (Samuel L. Jackson and Channing Tatum), are topped off with Ennio Morricone's sublime soundtrack, creating a nail-bitingly all-immersive cinema experience.
It wouldn't be a typical Tarantino movie if weapons didn't feature almost as prominently as superstars
Opting to film the movie using the rare 70mm Cinemascope film format, Tarantino's vision for the "The Hateful Eight" is impressively realized by the handiwork of cinematographer Robert Richardson, who manages to portray both the claustrophobic dimensions of the stagecoach inn as well as the snow-covered plains of Wyoming in stunning detail and with great skill.
Competing with 'Star Wars'
But as with all things, timing is proving to be of the essence even when it comes to Tarantino's long-awaited picture. With the US premiere of "The Hateful Eight" coinciding with the latest installment in the "Star Wars" franchise, which opened worldwide last week, only the box office tally will reveal the success of his latest opus.
The sought-after director previously threatened to cancel the production of "The Hateful Eight" after an online leak exposed the film script earlier this year. But after a change of heart and roughly one year between the start of principal photography and the initial US release, fans can finally look forward to seeing Tarantino's latest masterwork for themselves: the snowy Western thriller arrives in selected US and Canadian cinemas on Christmas Day, before opening worldwide in January.