Some time after the Civil War, a stagecoach hurtles through the wintry Wyoming landscape. Bounty hunter John Ruth and his fugitive captive Daisy Domergue race towards the town of Red Rock, where Ruth will bring Daisy to justice. Along the road, they encounter Major Marquis Warren (an infamous bounty hunter) and Chris Mannix (a man who claims to be Red Rock's new sheriff). Lost in a blizzard, the bunch seeks refuge at Minnie's Haberdashery. When they arrive they are greeted by unfamiliar faces: Bob, who claims to be taking care of the place while Minnie is gone; Oswaldo Mobray, the hangman of Red Rock; Joe Gage, a cow puncher; and confederate general Sanford Smithers. As the storm overtakes the mountainside, the eight travelers come to learn that they might not make it to Red Rock after all... Written by Jordan Crighton
December 30, 2015
A Stick of Dynamite with a long fuse.
The Hateful Eight stars a brilliantly selected cast of character directed by the incomparable Quentin Tarantino. Kurt Russell plays John Ruth, a bounty hunter transporting Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to hang, traveling via stagecoach thru the frozen tundra of frontier Wyoming. Along the way he encounters Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) another bounty hunter and Sheriff Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins). With a blizzard looming the stagecoach full holds up at a little country store with four other nefarious characters played by Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern and Demian Bichir. As the storm rages outside the remote cabin, inside we learn that everyone is not exactly who they claim to be as a last man standing show down plays out.
There are very few directors these days whose new work excites as much as Quentin Tarantino. Since I first rented Pulp Fiction (1994), I have rushed out to see every new creative project. Produced, written by, directed by, I am strongly devoted to all things under the Tarantino Hollywood brand. So adjust your expectations of this review given the biased of the writer. All that being said, this film is very different than his last two films, Inglourious Basterds (2009) and Django Unchained (2012). Those films are similar in that they creatively play with history in period pieces using the violent art form that is Tarantino’s style. Hateful 8, is more of a slow burn. The violence is still there, there are some gun shot wounds in this film that makes the violence in Pulp Fiction look like a paper cuts. But more time is taken, almost more than necessary to develop the characters. And at 3 hours and 7 minutes, I’m sure there is even more character exposition that landed on the cutting room floor to keep the film under 4 hours. There is a major sub plot that didn’t settle well with me personally. In where the demise of a character’s son is explained. And given the white dominated cast, the rampant use of the “N word” felt overused for shock value, more so than it did in all of Django.
In a recent interview on the Howard Stern Show, Tarantino revealed the inspiration behind the Hateful Eight. Growing up he enjoyed most the western television shows and movies where a stranger comes into town. Little is know of the character but the plot unfolds as more is uncovered about the past of the outsider. His vision is, what if you had a movie made up of entirely of those types of characters. What I think he needed, all be it not necessarily his style, is to turn this into an HBO mini series. That would have given him time to fully stretch the legs of his creation. Instead we are left with a film that drags in places and rushes in others, requiring heavy-handed narration by Tarantino himself. Imagine if Vince Gilligan had tried to imagine Breaking Bad as a 3-hour film as apposed to a 62 episode series. As a die-hard fan I will say this film ranks slightly above Kill Bill 2 and Death Proof in the Tarantino catalogue. Not in the same league as Pulp Fiction, yet not his worst effort. Great effort was made to shoot the film in Panavision 70 Processing, creating beautiful epically framed shots. I appreciate his passion for the look of film over digital, but for what really? The shots early on of the stagecoach navigating the snowy terrain in the establishing shots look amazing. But most of the action of Hateful 8 feels like it could be adapted from a stage play. The cabin and the outside blizzard are brilliantly composed; you really feel the bone chilling cold winter. There is a deliberate mood and tone created here that few can create like Tarantino. Little is spared in attention to detail of the set design. Tarantino has just the right amount of fan boy friendly hidden treasures along the way. I will not spoil, but I look forward to re-watch the movie to catch them all. Tarantino has mentioned in interviews that he plans on taking his final directing curtain call before his audience demands for it. 10 films are all he currently plans on making. By his math, Hateful is appropriately the 8th. I assume he does not count directing collaborations like Four Rooms (1995), From Dusk till Dawn (1996) and the Grindhouse (2007) double feature. I can go so far as to highly recommend Hateful 8 to devoted fans of Tarantino, but why preach to the choir. If you’re a fan you’ve already laid speed tracks to the nearest theater to see it. For those not drinking the blood red Tarantino punch this film may not be for you.
The pacing, language and violence may lose most mainstream audiences. So as much as Tarantino fought Disney for burying his film release under thousands more Star Wars showings.
Star Wars will ultimately remain the more enjoyable film for most this holiday season.