Review by Hans Eskelsen
The Hateful Eight
This is the 8th film of Quentin Tarantino’s legendary career. There are only a few films that limit its location to mainly one set and ends up being a success, like 12 Angry Men or 127 Hours. Will this western mystery keep the interest of the audience or will it fall short?
Chapter 1 – The Brief Movie Synopsis
I have noticed Quentin Tarantino films are becoming like visual books-on-tape. This film goes back to the 1800s in the Wyoming Territory. A bounty hunter named John “Hangman” Ruth (played by Kurt Russell, also known for Big Trouble in Little China and Tombstone) is taking Daisy Domergue (played by Jennifer Jason Leigh) to Red Rock to be hanged for murder. While trying to keep ahead of the winter storm, he picks up Major Marquis Warren, a fellow bounty hunter and war hero (played by Samuel L. Jackson, who is known in almost every recent film and Capital One ads) and Chris Mannix (played by Walton Goggins). They stop at Minnie’s Haberdashery to wait out the storm. However there was another party also at Minnie’s Haberdashery waiting out the storm. Now two different parties are stuck in a haberdashery and a storm is brewing.
Chapter 2 – What Worked
With a three-hour film that spends most of its time in the same room, what worked was the acting in this film. It made a difference that the interaction between the characters made the movie carry along. The actor who took the dominant reigns in this film was Kurt Russell. Kurt’s character was like a combination of John Wayne and Jack Burton from Big Trouble in Little China all in one. The chemistry between him and his counterpart Jennifer Leigh made their interaction entertaining. Honestly, without those two, this film would have felt like the day and life of Stephen and Billy Crash in Django Unchained.
The dialogue was rough, and heavily vulgar, but it really helped establish the characters through their interactions. Tarantino really has a gift for dialogue swagger. Whenever you see a Tarantino film, his dialogue gives the film an extra layer of uniqueness and style that isn’t seen in other films. The only other filmmakers that I see the same excitement in scriptwriting are the Coen Brothers.
The other thing that Tarantino does so well is that he isn’t afraid to experiment in filmmaking. He also loves to bring back old filming tricks and ideas that we haven’t seen done on the silver screen. He filmed this movie in 70mm. It made complete sense why he did once you see this film. I love that he does things like this. The film layout was beautiful and cinematic.
Chapter 3 – What Failed
Though I am a fan of Tarantino films, The Hateful Eight started off strong but, through time, it felt sloppy. Obviously, I am a fan of him using chapters to divide up the film like a book. He has done this in all his prior films since Kill Bill and it makes sense why because some scenes use different sequential timings. However, this time it really didn’t work like it has in prior films. Half way through the film, Tarantino started doing narration voiceovers. It is one thing that he tries to act…but now narrating? It doesn’t work. I almost thought the projectionist put the side-commentary bonus feature on with the film. It took the film out of the element it worked so hard to achieve in the first place and it no longer felt like the western mystery we were watching.
This started the domino effect of the ending falling apart. Though many may argue, it felt like it was rushed and ad-libbed to conclude the movie. It was disappointing and uncharacteristic of his films. Again, it all stemmed back to when Quentin started explaining the scene at that time.
With the last two points, the movie started slow and ended in a rush. The rhythm was off. Now, I understand why some films are slow. Looking at 2001: A Space Odyssey, it had its purpose of as it was in space, or Deer Hunter taking its time for the wedding at the beginning of the film. So I get the point that in the west, things move slower but when the ending felt piece-mealed together, it loses its luster. My only suggestion would have been to take more time to establish the latter scenes and shorten the earlier scenes to create a better flow.
The last thing that was unusual is that, in a film, you develop a sort of connection with the characters in the movie. You figure out who the heroes are versus the villain(s). Like I said before, Kurt Russell did that for me, but he was the only one. I felt no remorse or care for any other character. There really was no rooting interest for the remainder of the cast. I guess I should remember that they are the hateful eight for a reason.
Chapter 4 – The Conclusion
This is a movie for those who enjoy Tarantino films. It isn’t his best work, yet it being his 8th film, it is still okay. It isn’t for the faint of heart or those who get offended by language or vulgarity. It is also very graphic in violence. It isn’t at the violence level of Kill Bill with blood squirting excessively, but it does have the head-exploding exuberance. Just remember if you go into a Tarantino film and you decide to walk out of the theater, you don’t deserve a refund—you should know better by now what constitutes a Tarantino film. It is called The Hateful Eight for a reason.
I give this film 3 out of 5 stars.
If you like this film, I recommend:
In the Heat of the Night