- The Washington Times - Monday, April 4, 2016

Director Quentin Tarantino’s Academy Award-winning murder mystery set in post Civil War America challenges home theater screens in The Hateful Eight (Anchor Bay Home Entertainment, Rated R, $39.99, 167 minutes).

This exhausting visual homage to the classic early Westerns features a pair of bounty hunters teaming up while riding on a stage coach and trying to deliver a live prisoner to the town of Red Rock, Wyoming, for a hanging.

The crew gets stuck on the wrong side of a blizzard and must take respite in a lodge where they meet a group of seemingly harmless travelers.

An ensemble cast of highly grizzled, veteran bush wackers includes: Kurt Russell and Samuel L. Jackson as the bounty hunters John Ruth and Maj. Marquis Warren, Jennifer Jason Leigh as the prisoner Daisy Domergue, Tim Roth (doing his best Christoph Waltz imitation) as the hangman Oswaldo Mobray, Walton Goggins as Sheriff Chris Mannix, Bruce Dern as Gen. Sanford Smithers and Michael Madsen as cowboy Joe Gage.

As the director’s eighth film, it’s vintage Tarantino offering over-the-top, graphic violence, gobs of profanity, dark humor, extended ramblings of dialogue one might find in a stage play and his obsession for set detail.

All of the action came to life through cinematographer Robert Richardson and his crew who wielded cameras with Ultra Panavision 70 lens not used since the 1960s to deliver an incredibly wide-aspect ratio on screen (2.76:1 while a normal release might be 2.40:1).

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Despite a stunning digital transfer to truly enjoy the antiquated film techniques, it displays tall black bars above and below the screen eating up near as much space as the movie.

Home theater owners will most appreciate the effort with the largest screen or monitor possible, at least in the 65-inch range or wider. Heck, it truly requires a near movie-theater-sized backdrop to appreciate the glorious detail.

Despite my puny television, I still reveled at such moments as the Individual snowflakes falling in the far back, open part of the lodge, a subtle amber glow coming of a letter written by President Lincoln, the panoramic shots of a snowy outdoor Wyoming and its majestic mountain range, a colorful jellybean embedded between damaged wooden floor boards and steam coming off of a tin cup of coffee.

Also, a DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack gives exquisite aural life to composer Ennio Morricone’s Oscar-winning musical score as he taps into his Spaghetti Western roots to present odd but impactful compositions throughout.

Unfortunately, it’s a shame that this nearly three hour long epic arrives with only the barest of extras.

They include a 5-minute, butt-kissing, promotional featurette and a way-too-short, 8-minute look at the shooting of the film with Ultra Panavision, hosted by a giddy Mr. Jackson.

Although not the best film in Mr. Tarantino’s arsenal, “The Hateful Eight” handsomely succeeds in recreating a bygone era of cinematic magic.

However, due to the paltry extras, me thinks a special edition may be in the works. Hopefully, embellished with a 4K UHD transfer and offering the extended Roadshow version of the film (a longer cut shown in select theaters equipped with 70 mm projectors last year).

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