The Hateful Eight is neither the best nor least of writer/director Quentin Tarantino‘s oeuvre. Like most of his work, the film is highlighted by the mix of snappy dialogue and gruesome violence. And, sadly like much of his work, the film is hampered the filmmaker’s indulgences (such as shooting a film shot almost entirely in close-ups on a sound stage in 70mm simply because he felt like doing so) which don’t always serve the final product. The result is a film with terrific sequences, hampered by dark humor that doesn’t always find the right note, which eventually overstays it’s welcome.
The film begins with the chance encounter of a pair of bounty hunters (Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson) both fighting to get ahead of the oncoming blizzard. Before all is said and done the two men, along with one man’s bounty (Jennifer Jason Leigh), the carriage driver, and a host of other strangers, will all attempt to seek shelter from the storm in Minnie’s Haberdashery.
The premise behind screenwriters Douglas Cook and David Weisberg‘s Criminal is fairly ridiculous, even for B-movie action flick. Sadly, it’s not nearly as entertaining as the pair’s 20 year-old collaboration – The Rock. Set in present day, the death of Agent Bill Pope (Ryan Reynolds), who alone has vital information to keep backdoor access into the missile command of the United States out of the hands of a terrorist (Jordi Mollà), causes the CIA to attempt an experimental procedure to implant Pope’s memories into a brain-damaged convict named Jericho (Kevin Costner).
As with Alice in Wonderland, Maleficent, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, and 101 Dalmatians, Disney’s latest attempt to offer a live-action version of one of their classic animated movies offers mixed results. Originally based on the stories of Rudyard Kipling, 1967’s The Jungle Book took us into the jungle to follow the adventures of Mowgli the Man Cub (Neel Sethi), a young orphan raised by wolves. Rather than offer a straight reinterpretation of Kipling’s work or a direct live-action version of Disney’s animated feature, the new movie attempts to do both leading to an uneven story that is too dark for its lighter moments and simple bizarre when it tries to recreate animated sequences (such as Mowgli and Baloo singing “Bare Necessities” down the river) in realistic CGI.
If the set-up for “Hard Knox” sounds familiar it’s because Scorpion has used nearly the identical template before. Tricked by a government official into what is obviously a very bad idea, Walter (Elyes Gabel) and his team are hired to break into Fort Knox to test out the facility’s security. And yes, despite being tricked into similar circumstances in the past, no one on the team questions the validity of their assignment. Of course while this is going on Walter works out his troubled relationship with Linda (Brooke Nevin) while the show continues to tease the a romance between Paige (Katharine McPhee) and Tim (Scott Porter) that no one (I’m betting this even includes the show’s writers) want to see happen.
Originally released in 1967 The Jungle Book may not have aged as well as some of the older Disney films, but the spirit and legacy of the film has lived on through countless films from Disney (and other animation houses) over the years. Several current filmmakers, including Brad Bird (The Incredibles, The Iron Giant, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol), credit the movie for getting them interested in animated filmmaking.
Writer/director Jeff Nichols‘ latest is an unusual movie more likely to appeal to sci-fi nerds than the general public. Midnight Special is a good science fiction movie with two major flaws which keep it from becoming the great science fiction movie that starts out with so much promise during its first half-hour.
Macbeth is one of those stories that seems to work as well today as when it was written (just look at House of Cards). Kurzel’s film moves at a bisque pace while highlight Macbeth’s ambition, initially fueled by his wife, and the guilt and paranoia which follow. It may not add much new to the story, but cast and crew do the play justice, and it is certainly worth seeking out for fans of the Bard.
Available on both Blu-ray and DVD, extras include a short behind-the-scenes featurette and an interview with Fassbender.