The Hateful Eight (2015)

Comments Off on The Hateful Eight (2015) 27 March 2016


Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Theatrical Release: December 25, 2015

Blu Ray Release: March 29, 2016 

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Rated R 

Review by James Klein

When I was walking into the gorgeous Music Box Theater in Chicago on January 1st of this year to see the Roadshow 70 mm presentation of The Hateful Eight, I kept thinking repeatedly in my head, “Last straw Tarantino.” Unlike most of the general public, I was not a fan of the last few films on Tarantino’s resume. I detested his Grindhouse segment Death Proof, thought Inglorious Basterds was an overrated, overblown romance disguised as a war film and Django Unchained was a disjointed mess that had all too brief moments of greatness sprinkled about. But his first three films (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, and the highly underrated Jackie Brown) are what I feel are modern masterpieces in film making, storytelling, and performances. Maybe I’m just not a fan of Tarantino’s period piece movies? Would The Hateful Eight be another disappointment?

Set after the Civil War, our story begins on a wintery late afternoon as a stage coach is transporting John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell) and his prisoner Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) across the mountains and into the town of Red Rock before a brutal storm hits. Along the way they come across another bounty hunter, a former major named Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) who along with several dead men in his possession, is on his way to collect a bounty. With his horse dead, he pleads for John to pick him up and allow him to travel to Red Rock so he can collect his reward. Along the way they also meet Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins) a southern renegade who is now the new sheriff about to be deputized in Red Rock that these three are heading to. Needing a ride as well, he threatens to not hand over the reward money to either bounty hunter unless he too travels with them.

Hateful EightDue to the severity of the storm, the men and prisoner take refugee at a watering hole called Minnie’s where they will lodge for a few days to weather out the storm. Minnie however is absent and has left a peculiar Mexican named Bob (Demian Bichir) in charge. Also at the lodge are Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), Joe Gage (Michael Madsen) and General Sanford Smithers (Bruce Dern) who all have a different story about where they are heading. But John Ruth ain’t no dummy and he soon figures out that one of them or all of them ain’t who they seem to be. He knows someone is in cahoots with Daisy to set her free but which one is it?

The Hateful EightIt is here where I’m going to stop detailing the plot so not to give anything else away. The rest of the film does take place in the lodge and its this claustrophobic and tense situation that makes The Hateful Eight so intriguing and fascinating. Lies and deceit flood the room, forcing the viewer to wonder who is good and who is bad, who can be trusted and who is a liar, starting with a letter that Warren has obtained from Abraham Lincoln that is also used as a weapon of some sort. Much like John Carpenter’s The Thing, which also starred Russell, the viewer doesn’t really know what is truth until the bloody third act. And when I say bloody, I mean bloody. This may not be Tarantino’s goriest film (the overrated Kill Bill series still holds reign) but it is truly brutal and at times over the top. Also a bit over the top are some of the racially used slangs that many of the characters use towards Warren that may upset the more sensitive viewer. There seems to be a level of racially-motivated social commentary that Tarantino continues to explore in his films. Language is used as a weapon in The Hateful Eight, forcing characters to react differently than they normally would in a physical confrontation.

The H8teful EightWhere to begin my praise for The Hateful Eight that hasn’t already been said by other critics? I listed the actors in the film so one should know the performances, like in most Tarantino films, are fantastic with Jennifer Jason Leigh and Samuel L. Jackson being the two standouts. Everyone works so well together and playing off each other, it is hard to imagine any other actor playing these roles (although I can see Christopher Waltz taking over the Tim Roth role. However I am glad to see Roth return to a Tarantino film). But the performances are elevated thanks to the masterful dialog written by Tarantino. I feel that sometimes his dialog can get a bit too hammy, over the top…he tries too hard sometimes. But aside from a small flashback segment with Minnie, I found the dialog and the entire screenplay itself top notch and very tight.

Hateful 8Shot in 70 mm, The Hateful Eight is also Tarantino’s most gorgeous film. It’s beautiful landscapes of a snowy Wyoming are picture perfect. Even the moments inside the lodge at night, with the tight close ups of eyes reminded me of a Sergio Leone film (as I’m sure Tarantino thought of as well when he was shooting the picture). This year marked a great year for cinematography as both The Revenant and Sicario also blew me away with its wonderful visuals, with all three films battling it out at this years Academy Awards (The Revenant, my favorite film of the year, won). But what did win for The Hateful Eight was the phenomenal score by Ennio Morricone who, at the age of 87, created a haunting score that will be ranked as one of his best for years to come. I am unsure why Tarantino found it necessary to add in a segment of Morricone’s score from The Exorcist II as well as a snippet from the David Hess song, “Now You’re All Alone” from The Last House on the Left.

TarantinoAnchor Bay’s blu ray looks awesome. The 1080p transfer preserves the 2.76:1 widescreen presentation, which has been sourced from the 35mm version seen in general release. This is NOT the Panavision Roadshow release, I am sorry to say. However, this blu ray is gorgeous and crystal clear. The 5.1 Dolby Digital sounded great on my system with the rush of horses traveling from the left speaker to the right as well as the gunfire that explodes during the climax. One of my complaints for modern films made nowadays is that there is an emphasis on making the music and sound effects so loud that one cannot hear dialog. This is thankfully not the case, which had me nervous as the film is so dialog driven. One can hear each character speak without having to turn up the volume.

Samuel L. JacksonNow the bad news…as I had said before this is not the Roadshow version so the Overture and Intermission are not intact. Also, a few brief moments with several of the characters have been shorted or edited differently as the running time for this version is 168 minutes as opposed to the 187 minute version. Did I notice a difference? Not really aside from it felt shorter than when I saw it in the theater. This could also be because I wasn’t sitting in a comfortable chair like the one I have at home and may have gotten antsy. Another disappointment is the lack of extras on the blu ray. No trailer? Really? We are stuck with two short, featurettes that seem like they were made to fill in space on HBO in between movies. One focuses on the film while the other, hosted by Jackson, focuses on the 70 mm process. Granted, the blu ray package did come with a DVD and a digital download but still. I’m sure another special edition will come out eventually.

Walt and SamSo yeah, I was very satisfied with Tarantino’s recent film and happy to say that I highly recommend seeing it despite a few minor flaws. If you don’t care about special features, then this blu ray is a must purchase because it looks and sounds fantastic.

Jennifer Jason LeightMovie Rating: ★★★★½

Blu Ray Rating: ★★★☆☆

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