The Hateful Eight: a bounty hunter and his prisoner get snowed-in at a cabin stop with six strangers, but “one of them fellas is not what he says he is”. Most of the actors get to do what they do best: grouchy Kurt grumbles magnificently; magnetic Goggins spits out redneck ramblings; Sam J does his shouty-preaching; Roth ponses around; in fact, Madsen is the only actor that doesn’t really get any good screentime. Despite the huge names, Señor Bob (Demián Bichir) steals the show for me with a ridiculously terrific comedy performance and accent. There’s some absolutely stunning exploitation gore, blood sprays, head explosions, etc, etc – all electrifying for even the most hardened splatter aficionados. As you’ll have read everywhere; the main issue with H.E. is that it’s simply far, far, far too long. It takes over 45 minutes to get to the cabin setting; an hour ‘til we get to the crux of the movie; and even with 2hr40min of dialogue heavy scenes, a narrator (voiced by QT, obvz) is still required to throw in more details – how sloppy and empty can the writing get? In fact, most people’s issues with Django seem to be applicable here too: it’s almost as if Tarantino is intentionally trolling his own audience (too many n-bombs, too long, no censorship…). Finally, a massive deal was made about resurrecting the ultra-Panavision 70mm format: but exterior shots are pretty much whiteouts, and the last two hours are confined to a cabin interior – which leaves you yearning for epic vistas. With his last few films, Tarantino is starting to come across as a ‘brat’ director (surrounded by ‘yes men’); refusing to cut out flabby parts, censor himself, or make any changes to his precious baby. Boiled down: The Hateful Eight is simply a decadent, elaborate, and extremely self-indulgent Reservoir Dogs remake: and a very testing setup for what’s essentially a room full of people shooting each other… again.
Grindhouse: Death Proof. A washed up stuntman stalks and hunts sexy wimin’ in his ‘death proof’ stunt car. Part of the ‘Grindhouse’ double feature; this is given the ‘aged movie reel’ treatment – with tons of deliberately rough editing, cutting, lo-fi mono audio, scratched film, bad ADR, black/white… to make it feel like you’re watching a 70s film. It gets confusing however when people have mobile phones, and talk about CGI and Red Bull… Also, for whatever reason, this isn’t carried on through the second half of the film – making it seem even more gimmicky than it first appears. It’s ridiculously sweary – even by Tarantino standards – and boasts more leg and bum shots than a Michael Bay outing. The pacing is all over the shop – waiting 50 mins to first Final Destination style deaths, and spending most of the runtime listening to women gossiping and referencing niche pop culture in various cars and bars. For the most part, it’s not really gripping, but the action finale saves the day as stuntwoman Zoe Bell perilously navigates the bonnet of a speeding muscle car with no tricks. Despite only being in a handful of scenes Kurt Russel steals the show as an old-skool senseless maniac. Although Death Proof is a bit of a mess it remains watchable because of Tarantino’s quirks, dialogue, and the fact that you’re never really sure what’s coming up next. Definitely not his finest hour.
Furious 7 (AKA Furious Seven, Fast Seven, Fast & Furious 7): when Owen Shaw is left comatosed after Fast & Furious 6, his bigger badder brother Deckard Shaw comes at the gang for revenge. The ‘China Film Corporation‘ influence strong and obvious: super-tech (drones), large-scale non-car CGI devastation, more gunplay, random Asian Megastar and even less believable action than before. The overall feel drifted into (new) Michael Bay territory, with explosion porn, leery bikini shots, and being a little bit overly stereotypical/racist with the CRAZYSHOUTYBLACKGUYS(!!). The road-based action there is remains intense, but rapid editing makes it difficult for the action to flow, and to follow what’s going on. That being said, it’s great to see a large action franchise still centered around Family, and showing strong women. The family is a great tool because, after 5 films (Toky Drift doesn’t count) with the team, you feel connected attached to them – and phrases like “Ride or Die”, or the ‘quarter mile at a time’ spiel get me pumped up every time. You didn’t see much of The Rock, but it’s OK because he finally Rock Bottom’d someone; Statham is on good form, albeit cruising; needed more of Tony Jaa as he only got a few minor stunts to shine with; and the Paul Walker send off was handled well. Fast 5 is still the height of the franchise, boasting better physical stunts and a more focused plot; although Furious 7 is entirely watchable and fun, this feels like it’s juggling too many spare parts, and could have shaved off 30 mins.
PREVOUS F&F REVIEWS
The Fast and the Furious
2 Fast 2 Furious
Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift
Fast & Furious
Fast 5 (Update) / Fast 5 (Original Review)
Fast & Furious 6