The Hateful Eight Movie Review
To watch a Quentin Tarantino film, is to experience a cinematic experience like no other. Of course, he takes a lot of great qualities from admired filmmakers before him, but he also transforms them into something totally different. How long has it been since we’ve seen an overture and an intermission? Both are present in this roughly three hour visually stunning western. Tarantino is able to transcend the work to an art form that has yet to be matched, exceeding those before him. THE HATEFUL EIGHT is another original, fantastic movie watching experience that fits along nicely with the writer/director’s eight previous films.
While Tarantino’s last film, DJANGO UNCHAINED, dabbled in the western genre, THE HATEFUL EIGHT is a little more straight forward with a dinner party murder mystery atmosphere – an impromptu dinner party with mostly strangers who all have zero desire to be there with each other and are carrying guns. Nine people are stuck in a cabin during a nasty blizzard, whose cold and presence is felt as an entire character of its own. But not everything is as it seems. First, the players with a little help from their individual character posters rather than their character names: “The Hangman” (Kurt Russell), The Bounty Hunter (Samuel L. Jackson), The Prisoner (Jennifer Jason Leigh), The Sherriff (Walton Goggins), The Little Man (Tim Roth), The Cow Puncher (Michael Madsen), The Confederate (Bruce Dern), The Mexican (Demian Bichir), The Driver (James Parks). “The Hangman” is escorting “The Prisoner” to a nearby town, hoping to get paid the $10,000 dead or alive bounty on her head. Naturally, he’s a bit suspicious of everyone stepping in on his reward, but as he would say, “this job isn’t supposed to be easy.” Like any Tarantino film, the characters are rich in detail, each one full of truths, half truths and down right, dirty rotten lies. The unfolding of the answers is as edge-of-your-seat intriguing as it is gruesomely delightful.
The cinematography from fifth time Tarantino collaborator Robert Richardson is masterfully shot, especially for those who will be able to catch the film in its 70mm presentation. And while I kept wanting more of it, the musical score from Ennio Morricone (THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY) might finally earn the legend his long overdue Oscar win. The original screenplay takes aspects from STAGECOACH and 12 ANGRY MEN in character development, while the actors hit every note perfectly. Samuel L. Jackson and Jennifer Jason Leigh standout as the more overtly exciting characters, driving some of the action and humor through their dialogue or actions. Kurt Russell and his massive Yosemite Sam mustache pull off some of the film’s more subtle humor, reacting to every situation with demanding, brute sincerity.
THE HATEFUL EIGHT is similar to Tarantino’s first feature, RESERVOIR DOGS, in that the setting takes place mostly in one location with a small group of characters. However, it’s different from Tarantino’s other films in that the dialogue and action are a bit more of a slow burn, letting the drama play out in chapters. It may not be as rewatchable as his previous films, but give it a day or two and, like many of his films, you may find that it sticks with you more than expected.
So where does THE HATEFUL EIGHT rank among Tarantino’s other great films? I can’t answer that yet as I think every fan’s answer will differ. But I can say it’s one of the best films of the year. I’m obviously a Quentin Tarantino enthusiast, so take that under consideration when reading my rabid gushing over the film. If Tarantino films are hit or miss for you, I speculate THE HATEFUL EIGHT might be another miss. Or if you’ve never seen a Tarantino film, I probably wouldn’t start with this one. However, if you are anything like me and have loved every one of his films, this one should not be any different. Ultimately, THE HATEFUL EIGHT is another amazing movie watching experience that is, if nothing else, a memorable pleasure.