The Hateful Eight Blu-ray Review
There are eight of them—The Bounty Hunter, The Hangman, The Prisoner, The Sherrif, The Mexican, The Little Man, The Cow Puncher, The Confederate—and they sure are hateful. It would be a bloody hell of a mess if they were to somehow wind up in the same place. And that they do, and that there is.
It’s sometime after the Civil War. Renowned hangman John Ruth (Kurt Russell, who also appeared in the western BONE TOMAHAWK this year) is aboard a stagecoach on the way to Red Rock, the dangerous prisoner Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh, who earned an Oscar nod for her turn), handcuffed to him. En route, they are stopped by a bounty hunter named Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson, in his sixth Quentin Tarantino film—fifth counting just onscreen appearances), who has a trio of corpses ready to be traded for cash.
With a fierce blizzard approaching, they, along with a would-be sheriff named Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins, DJANGO UNCHAINED), are forced to stop at Minnie’s Haberdashery. Upon their arrival they encounter British executioner Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth, who recently played Rainier III in GRACE OF MONACO), Mexican workman Bob (Demián Bichir, DOM HEMINGWAY) and Joe Gage (Michael Madsen, stepping temporarily from the direct-to-video lump), on the way to visit his mother. In a chair in the center of the room, quiet as a winter night, is a well-worn Confederate general (Bruce Dern, NEBRASKA).
That takes the roll call up to, yes, eight. The amount of lies, though, is much higher than that, and before the first flake can fall, the audience is wondering, Who is telling the truth? and Which lines are we to believe? And somewhere around the halfway mark of the film (or, after the intermission of the roadshow version), we’re tasked to figure out who poisoned the coffee…
These are despicable characters all, but, as with any Tarantino film, they are plenty of fun to be around. They may say and do profane and violent things, but, as Tarantino would be the first to say, it’s just a movie and so what’s the harm? None of these characters are good people, but then that’s far from necessary, and whereas any form of western would host Good and Bad, THE HATEFUL EIGHT boasts Bad and Worse—and even Ugly. (Sergio Leone’s THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY is given its nods, as are works ranging from THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN to John Carpenter classic THE THING. Some may even find Tarantino competing with THE EXORCIST and MONTY PYTHON’S THE MEANING OF LIFE for most intense vomit scene.)
THE HATEFUL EIGHT doesn’t shatter the ground of its genre like, say, PULP FICTION did two decades ago (although it does present a rattle). Nor will it entice filmmakers to steadily utilize the 70mm format (or even ditch digital, as so many refuse to do), which cinematographer Robert Richardson makes glo(u)rious use of. But it is smart and comical and tense and unrelenting. It is just the sort of picture we expect from Tarantino and just the sort of picture that Tarantino expects us to enjoy.
Video: 2.76:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. Although it is impossible to match the epic scope that THE HATEFUL EIGHT had during its 70mm roadshow screening, this high-definition transfer offers just what fans could want in a home video release: details are stellar, textures are fine, colors are accurate and blacks are deep. This is an immersive presentation that puts the viewer directly in Minnie’s Haberdashery.
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1. Subtitles in English and Spanish. The audio is also without fault, with clean dialogue, atmospheric sound effects (the gunshots and horses rumble through surround speakers while the wind howls outside of Minnie’s) and an Ennio Morricone score that aids in the overall feel of the film.
Beyond the Eight: A Behind-the-Scene Look (4:58): This promotional piece uses interviews and clips to briefly cover the plot and characters of THE HATEFUL EIGHT.
Sam Jackson’s Guide to Glorious 70mm (7:49): Jackson, Quentin Tarantino and more cover the concept of the “roadshow,” as well as the significance of 70mm.