HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Hateful Eight
HTS Overall Score:85
I’ve heard for the last two decades that the Western is totally dead. In fact I can almost agree with that sentiment as the only really successful westerns have been “True Grit” by the Coen Brothers and a small handful of others while the rest of the series wallows in DTV mediocrity. However I don’t think that anyone told Quentin Tarantino that, as the man continues to pump out the genre over the last few years. First it was “Django Unchained” and next the man had me dancing in the aisles with the announcement of “The Hateful Eight”. I have to admit that I’m a 100% Tarantino fanboy, so I might have a slight bias, but I can’t help but eat up whatever the man puts out. His penchant for paying homages to old film history genres and tweaking them with his trademark loquacious dialog is refreshing and unique. Not to mention the sharp bursts of hyper violence that pretty much made him a legend with the likes “Kill Bill” and Reservoir Dogs”.
“The Hateful Eight” plays out a lot like an old Alfred Hitchcock mystery, or a more darkly comedic (and definitely more violent) take on “Clue”. 8 men and women happen to meet at Minnie’s Haberdashery in snowy Wyoming just as a giant blizzard starts. One of them happens to be John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell) who is transporting a vicious criminal by the name of Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to the city of Red Rock to get stretched by the neck until her legs stop kicking. Along the way he picks up competing bounty hunter, African American Major Marquis Warren, sleazy Rebel scum turned Sheriff of Red Rock Chris Mannix (Walter Goggins), a British hangman named Oswaldo Mobray, a quiet cowpoke by the name of Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), Minnie’s stablehand Bob (Demian Bichir) and retired southern General Sandy Smithers (Bruce Dern). Trapped in the haberdashery for the next couple of days, the men (and woman) have to keep a watchful eye on each other, especially Jon Ruth who is convinced that one or more of the patrons in Minnie’s is out to free his prisoner and do harm to him.
Well, it doesn’t take much to realize that with this many differing people with a penchant for violence SOMETHING is going to go wrong. Slowly one by one people starting getting killed. First it’s a standoff between the general and the major, and then it devolves into a game of cat and mouse as an enigmatic killer among the surviving the patrons starts killing off the rest in a spray of blood and secretive violence.
Tarantino is a man well known for his love of extremely flowery and overly stylish dialog and “Hateful Eight” is probably his most loquacious and dialog filled film yet. In fact it actually is a part of the reason why I didn’t rate the movie a 4.5/5, as badly as I wanted to. For a 2 hour and 47 minute movie the action and pace doesn’t pick up until about an hour and a half into the film! The first 90ish minutes is spent introducing characters and watching them interact with each other in the confined space. However, though I have some frustration and disappointments with the heavy use of dialog and shortened action, the movies dialog is well done that I honestly didn’t realize the first 45 minutes had gone by that fast until I happened to pause the movie for a restroom break and noticed the time. Tarantino has this way with scripting dialog and the inclusion of all these old and beat up stars with a few fresh faces just ran with it and made it a fantastic experience.
For those of you who grew up reading Agatha Christie or Dorothy Sayers, or even Jane Haddam you might start to notice the similarities between “The Hateful Eight” and a good old fashioned mystery novel (albeit in a slightly changed manner as Tarantino never truly COPIES anything. Rather he tweaks and changes it to suit his own particular vision while still winking and nodding to the original source material). The film starts out with John Ruth and Daisy in a stagecoach, but in typical mystery fashion they pick up a passenger in the form of Major Warren. To add to the nostalgia and stretching of natural believability a SECOND passenger is picked up in the form of the Sheriff of Red Rock, only to be expounded upon by coming to Minnie’s filled with all sorts of differing people with shifty eyes. The audience is clued into the fact that something is wrong almost right away with Major Warren holding GREAT suspicion over Bob considering the fact that Minnie NEVER goes away, and the myriad of clues that support his theories.
All being said. It’s really the characters that make a mystery, as well as the judicious holding back of critical information until the necessary moment, and that’s exactly the case here. Every single actor in the movie just makes the characters their own. Kurt Russell is one of those older actors that used to be iconic until vanishing off the map, but he rules the roost as the cocky, brash and abrasive bounty hunter. Samuel L. Jackson can be hit or miss in his movie choices, but under the influence of Tarantino he’s allowed to shine in a way that far out classes his fairly minimalistic role in “Django Unchained”. Tim Roth exudes sleaze like only he can and the biggest scene stealer of them all is Walter Goggins. Which should come as a surprise to no one if you’ve seen him in “Shanghai Noon” or the recently finished “Justified”. He’s one of those character actors that just seems to be able to draw your attention to his every word and never once look away.
“The Hateful Eight” has a few narrative issues, but it’s main flaw and drawback is the fact that it’s just a bit TOO long, and this is just the theatrical version and not the roadshow version shown in certain 70mm theaters. Once the action picks up you can stop looking at the clock, but there were a few points during the first two hours where I honestly wondered if the movie was every going to end. With the death of Tarantino’s old film editor just a year before “Django Unchained” the man has shown that he has a hard time parting with material and editing a film down to a reasonable time frame. “Django Unchained” showed the same creaky flaws, but “The Hateful Eight” amplifies that quality in the film make even more.
Rated R for strong bloody violence, a scene of violent sexual content, language and some graphic nudity
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=67946[/img]One of the things that makes Quentin Tarantino unique is his absolute love affair with actual FILM stock. The man has gone so far as to say that he would rather give up filming than use digital cameras for his movies. He was also one of the people who really pushed Kodak HARD to continue producing real film stock for directors. Shot entirely on 65 mm film stock (displayed at 70mm stock at the theatrical level for those theaters that could display it) using the old Ultra Panavision lens that hadn’t been used since the Sony bomb Khartoum was released, “The Hateful Eight” is given a magnificent 2.75:1 AVC encoded Blu-ray that almost made me cry at how beautiful it looks. I’ve been hearing a lot about how Digital photography is so much shinier and clearer than film stock, but when used properly 65 or 70 mm film is one of the most awe inspiring sights in the film industry. Movies like “Lawrence of Arabia” are legends for picture quality for a reason and the same perfect look comes into play here as well. Colors are blue tinged out in the snowy blizzard, with brilliant whites and black levels that literally contrast so well as to pop off the screen against the sea of white. The inside of Minnie’s takes a decidedly more amber hue. Warm and inviting without giving up any fine detail whatsoever. Facial hair, sweat along the forehead and any number of little intricacies look amazing on screen, and the outdoor shots are a sight to behold. Clarity is razor sharp without any sings of banding, crush or other abnormalities to be seen. Contrast levels are balanced, with a warmer touch to them indoors, but overall this is about as beautiful a picture as you’re going to get.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=67954[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio track is only a slight bit below the perfect video, and luckily has the advantage of taking place inside the middle of a giant blizzard where the wind is whipping around every corner and crevice of the film. Whether that be the ferocious buffeting of bodies outside the wooden structure, or the slightly whistling and creaking of objects as they are affected by nature inside Minnie’s. There are long sections of the movie where more subtle ambient noises come into play to offset the dialog, but the outdoor sequences are the real delight. LFE is punch and powerful when needed, but isn’t as ferocious and aggressive as I would have expected. Instead it just intertwines itself with the track in subtle ways that augment the aggressive use of surround channel and seem to just fade into the background until you realize your amp lights are flickering like crazy.
• Beyond the Eight: A Behind the Scenes Look
• Sam Jackson's Guide to Glorious 70mm
“The Hateful Eight” is a flawed Tarantino movie, but a wildly enjoyable experience at the same time if you’re even the slightest bit familiar with his work. The slow and steady pace is wonderfully nuanced with his trademark dialog, despite the editing issues where he couldn’t seem to give up some of his precious scenes to the gods of good pacing. The violence is nothing less than what one would expect from fans of the man, and the deliciously dark comedy is just the right amount of macabre and ludicrousness to draw an evil chuckle from the viewer. One little tidbit of information. For those of you who know Quinten’s movies, he loves to make Stan Lee type cameos as minor characters, however this time he decides to only let his voice be present, as the third act narrator for the film. His love affair with old film stock and the decision to make this a 65mm shoot makes the video a thing of beauty and the audio is not far behind. My only real complaint is that the extras are very limited and the roadshow extended edition is NOT on the disc, which is most likely being saved for a special edition. Still, definitely recommended for fans of good mysteries that end in blood and brain matter.
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Tim Roth, Jennifer Jason Leigh
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Written by: Quentin Tarantino
Aspect Ratio: 2.75:1 AVC
Audio: ENGLISH: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish DD 5.1
Studio: Starz/Anchor Bay
Runtime: 167 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: March 29 2016
Buy The Hateful Eight Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Definitely Recommended
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