“Well, well, well. Looks like Minnie's Haberdashery is about to get cosy for the next few days”The Hateful Eight has been a long time coming. It was first announced in November 2013 before being leaked and cancelled in January 2014 and then re-announced soon after, I have been anticipating this film for a very long time. This was the first Tarantino film I could see in the cinema and as a massive fan of his, I’ve had my fingers and toes crossed all this time that it would be a good one. Fortunately for me, The Hateful Eight did not disappoint! What a ride!
This review will remain as spoiler free as possible.
The film opens with Samuel L. Jackson as Major Marquis Warren, “The Bounty Hunter”, hitching a ride to the town of Red Rock with John Ruth, “The Hangman”, (Kurt Russell) and his handcuffed fugitive Daisy Domergue, “The Prisoner”, (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who he is taking to Red Rock to hang. They are then soon met by Walton Goggins as Chris Mannix, “The Sheriff”, who persuades them to let him join, because as the new sheriff, he’ll be paying their bounties.
A blizzard forces the stagecoach to stop and seek refuge at Minnie's Haberdashery where they find Bob, “The Mexican”, (Demián Bichir), Joe Gage, “The Cow Puncher”, (Michael Madsen), Oswaldo Mobray, “The Little Man”, (Tim Roth) and General Sanford Smithers, “The Confederate”, (Bruce Dern). But one of this hateful bunch is not what they appear to be.
"One of them fellas is not what he says he is.”The Hateful Eight really does feel like a classic Tarantino film, and in particular Reservoir Dogs. It is very much a set piece focused on a great ensemble cast, like Dogs is, and also continues Tarantino’s use of chapters to structure the story and flashbacks to lend context to events. The latter is used really well in this. Apart from a few occasions it definitely made a close to three hour movie seem a lot shorter!
The script combined with Tarantino’s direction does a fantastic job of making the characters enjoyable to watch but not enough to make you like or trust them, unlike say Christoph Waltz as Dr. King Shultz in Django Unchained. This really adds to the tense atmosphere of the movie; you really don’t know who you can or can’t trust. As the title suggests, they really are a hateful bunch.
This, of course, would not be possible without such a brilliant cast, and they all really shine. Quentin Tarantino definitely knows how to get the best out of his actors, more so than any other director I feel. Tim Roth as the eccentric Oswaldo Mobray was a particular delight and injected a lot of humour into proceedings (as did most of the cast), whilst remaining suspicious and ambiguous like the others. The film makes it hard for you to like the characters but Roth as Mobray was the one I enjoyed watching the most.
Part of me feels The Hateful Eight could have been shorter. The shortest version runs for 2 hours and 47 minutes making it his second longest film after Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2 (which we count as one movie) and to be honest, you can feel it in areas. Some parts could have been tightened up, but I was not bored at any point. The long, ominous and suspenseful set up (very similar to the bar scene in Inglourious Basterds) lead to a superb and bloody finale.
I feel that it is between chapter three and four where the interval takes place in the 70mm roadshow version. The standard digital version substituted the interval for a black screen which remained for a few seconds. Without giving anything away, it allows you to take a much needed deep breath after the spectacle witnessed in the previous chapter which begins this amazing finale. After this short break the film really picks up the pace. It’s probably my favourite section and it has to be experienced first hand so I am not going to talk about it here in fear of spoiling it.
Tarantino's direction was solid as ever, and Robert Richardson’s cinematography is beautiful. Unfortunately I didn’t see it in all it’s 70mm glory but even so, the digitally projected version still looked and felt amazing, and was supplemented by an amazing score by the great Ennio Morricone. It was weird watching a Tarantino movie with an original score but it worked wonderfully and I shall be ordering the CD right away!
The Hateful Eight is a slow building film with a tense story and superb characters. Whilst it takes a while to get moving, when it reaches it’s climax, it really is a riot. I do have some issues, but they are heavily outweighed by the positives. On future re-watch I might discover more problems but right now, all I can say is that I loved it. Some have criticised it for it’s strong violence and language but all I can say is, what more can you expect from a film by Quentin Tarantino? No criticisms from me on that front.
This is an all round entertaining film from start to finish. It’s up there with Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction.
I give The Hateful Eight, 5 out of 5 Stars. 5 stars doesn't necessarily mean it’s perfect, but it’s not far off!
Nick is a 2000 year old alien who travels through time and space, saving the good and conquering the evil... or so he likes to think.