The Hateful Eight is the eighth film appropriately from Director Quentin Tarantino who had me going into this film with very high expectations not only because of the great critical reception this film had over in the US, but also the fact that I really enjoyed his last two films Inglorious Bastards and the brilliant Django Unchained, which I would even consider to be his best film to date. The Hateful Eight also marks the first of three movies I am reviewing this month that are US holdovers. See, January is a bit of a bad time for a film critic because it tends to be the time when studios release any old dredge that was clearly never going to succeed any other time of the year, in the hope they will make back some of their money from the lack of competition. However, this year doesn’t seem like there are too many of these films, don’t get me wrong there are a few and you can tell, but with Star Wars still doing so well at the box office most studios have probably moved most of these releases to February. But, luckily if you live in the UK it also means the big Oscar and BAFTA nominated films that the US got in November and December tend to make their way over here and The Hateful Eight is no exception, and the other 2 US holdovers I’ll be looking at also are set for some serious Oscar and BAFTA buzz, one of which has already received a nomination for Best Film at the BAFTA’s. However, the morning I went to see this film, the film had received several BAFTA nominations for the technical categories but it didn’t receive many BAFTA nominations in any of the other categories, which is rather surprising as I believed that Quentin Tarantino would at least get a best director nomination or at least receive more than it did, but I suppose I can’t be too surprised considering the BAFTA’s is really more about British films than films in general, so obviously films like The Danish Girl and Brooklyn were going to receive more nominations. With that being said though, let’s get right down to business because I have been stalling this long enough.
The plot of The Hateful Eight is that in the middle of the Wyoming winter, bounty hunter John Ruth, (played by Kurt Russell) has successfully captured fugitive Daisy Domergue, (played by Jennifer Jason Leigh) and is taking her to the town of Red Rock to hang. Along the way he comes across Major Marquis Warren (played by Samuel L Jackson) another bounty hunter and a new Sheriff of Red Rock Chriss Mannix (played by Walton Goggins) and during their trip they take shelter overnight in a cabin in order to avoid a blizzard which houses 4 other people. Hangman Oswaldo Mobray (played by Tim Roth), Joe Gage (played by Michael Madsen), General Sandy Smithers (played by Bruce Dern) and the man minding the joint Bob (played by Damian Bichir). However, it soon transpires that one or maybe more of these men are in cahoots with Daisy and they are going to need to hold out in this tense situation until the blizzard dies down, but that might be difficult, when you don’t know who to trust.
Once again Quentin Tarantino does a decent job in writing and directing his films, however, I would agree that his style has a certain edge to it that may put off a large group of people, needless to say, if you weren’t a fan of his style before, this is not the film that is going to change your mind. The film has been heavily marketed as being like a western and to a large extent it is. The film even opens rather like one of those films you see on a Bank Holiday weekend on TCM (Turner Classic Movies), sort of a dark version of a John Wayne film, though it is actually more about the Civil War than it is a western. The film is set post American Civil War and there are definitely a lot of themes around the scars being left on America following that conflict. It’s not over-done however, which is a plus because it would have interfered with most of the main themes of the film, which are expertly written. Tarantino creates an amazing suspenseful piece of work. It almost feels like it unfolds like a novel, which is largely helped by the fact that the film is divided into 6 chapters and the early portions of the film, are largely devoted to character development and for each character to have certain moments. You can almost imagine yourself reading this in a book. This pacing may not be to everyones taste and I can imagine a large group of people getting bored in the first 3rd of the movie, but it’s very necessary, because early on this film suggests that no one is to be trusted, especially considering that the most we ever actually see any characters back story it’s only ever told to us. Now while the film may have a rule of show don’t tell, this actually works to the films favour, since we never actually see any back stories, so everything that could be told to us might be potentially false, even Kurt Russell and Samuel L Jackson purported to be the main characters, may be unreliable. Granted this isn’t like John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’ which was a master work of suspense, but it is a damm good job because we become even less trustworthy of most of the characters when we start to learn more and more about them, or at least we think we know more and more about them. Honestly, it’s really best that I don’t go into too much detail because this really is a film that you should experience for yourself.
The Hateful Eight is up for Best Original Screenplay at the BAFTA’s and despite the fact that it’s up against very strong competition from ‘Bridge of Spies’, ‘Ex Machina’, the previously reviewed ‘Inside Out’ and ‘Spotlight’ about which I can’t comment on because it hasn’t been released at the time of this reviews publication, but I am pretty sure it’s going to be good, I would seriously consider it a strong contender. At the minute I am really struggling to decide which one i think deserves the award, but I think I am coming down to it being a close call between ‘The Hateful Eight’ and ‘Inside Out’. The screenplay is that good. Tarantino does let his style overtake him at times but it’s never to the detriment to the film’s plot and believe me, expect a lot of Tarantino’s usual tropes to be here, including a lot of blood, a lot of very, VERY graphic violence and the ’N’ word to be thrown around more times than a beach ball at a music festival, which the first time it was uttered really shocked an elderly couple that were sitting in front of me but really what were you expecting from a Tarantiono film. Tarantino, however, does make one slight flaw throughout the film. During the end of the 2nd third there is a plot twist revealed which is a good plot twist and actually warrants repeat viewings but it is slightly ruined by one of the names in the opening credits. Anyone who has seen the film will understand what I mean about that, but needless to say it’s a slight disappointment, and by the time the twist is revealed and fully sorted and flushed out it doesn’t actually really change much of what is going on, but it does set up a very, very good climax which I won’t dare spoil! Also, I know it’s a minor nit pick, but for a film that is called ‘The Hateful Eight’ there are actually nine people in the cabin, what, the Coach Driver doesn’t count!! I know he wasn’t on the poster, but seriously, it is a bit of an issue when the film can’t count!!
The film is just under 3 hours long. You can see the film in 167 minutes without an intermission, or 187 minutes with an intermission. I’d recommend seeing it without because I believe an intermission would interrupt the flow of the plot. I normally aim to see films in the middle of the day so I can get back mid afternoon so I have time to do other things in the day and get ready for my Friday night out, but this time I didn’t get back until early evening. While I don’t mind films being 3 hours, I’m not really a fan of them unless they are warranted. For example ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ could have cut at least half an hour out, but when you get a film like this, or ‘Gone Girl’ which really warrants the 3 hours, it’s worth it. There is nothing really that could be cut from this film, though I do believe you could chop this into 3 parts and put it on the BBC and you wouldn’t be getting any less of a story.
Your enjoyment of The Hateful Eight story will really come down to your opinion on Tarantino’s tropes. If you can handle it, you’ve got an excellent movie here, if you don’t then I completely understand and I can’t go into too much detail with the plot because it’s a film that really needs to avoid spoilers for maximum enjoyment.
As for the cast. They are all excellent. Samuel L Jackson once again is on perfect form. Yes, I know, Samuel L Jackson in a Quentin Tarantino movie, next thing you know, you will be telling me Johnny Depp is going to be in a Tim Burton movie. I swear, these two do work excellently together and once again Jackson hits it out of the park with this movie and proves that he can do some good gun slinging technique throughout most of the film. Kurt Russell is on tremendous form, giving one of his best performances in years and Jennifer Jason Leigh gives an excellent performance, despite the fact she is cast well against type. It’s just a shame the film doesn’t give her much to do and she doesn’t even really become plot relevant until the 2nd third. In fact the early portion of the film sets her up as more of a plot device and a literal punch line than anything else. Michael Madsen is once again pretty good, but again these two usually work well together, so there’s no surprise there. Walter Goggins also does an excellent job as a racist Sheriff who used to be a Confederate Soldier and I really enjoyed watching his performance even if the film can’t make up its mind what to do with him a lot of the time, and he doesn’t really get too much time to shine in the middle portion of the film, really being reserved mostly for the beginning and end. Tim Roth is good, but he is basically an English stereotype throughout most of the film and I think you could potentially substitute him with any other posh English actor, however he does bring a certain level of charm to the performance that makes it his own. Bruce Dern once again is fantastic in the film, but he is not getting too many lines, but he does at least do his job and it does seem like a shame that he isn’t in the film that long, though the film makers do come up with several ways to get the most out of him. Really there is not much more to say about the film’s cast. They are very decent veteran actors who do a very good job. I will say, however, that I do believe the rest of the cast are under utilised, and while they do give decent performances they are not in the film long enough for me to give them much of a judgement and it really is about these 8 guys. I probably should mention the Coach Driver O.B. Jackson, played by James Parks but he didn’t get that much front in this film so I am going to skip him and say he did a decent performance, other than that, not much else to talk about.
If I am moving into the technical categories, however, The Hateful Eight is actually really excellent. The film may have been shot to look like an old Western, but it actually feels very modern in a lot of senses and that’s largely down to the excellent set design and cinematography. The visual effects are also excellent, this environment feels cold as hell, to such an extent you probably need to wear a coat in the cinema to watch it! It does seem rather upsetting that the film didn’t receive as many nominations at the BAFTA’s in the technical categories as it could have, but I must be honest, if we are going on about costume design, Kurt Russell’s moustache does seem slightly ‘fakey’ and I did think at one moment it was hanging off him! I know the film was shot to be in 70mm, but that wasn’t available at the cinema I was at so I had to watch it in its normal format, though judging from what I saw I reckon that version will be very decent to see and if you can get to a cinema offering that, I would recommend that format just for the novelty value.
If there is one other thing to talk about, it’s the film’s score. The film’s music score has been done by Ennio Morricone whose previous credits include his fantastic work on ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’ and John Carpenters ‘Thing’, once again he gives an excellent minimalist sound track that I absolutely loved, especially the main theme, which has received a BAFTA nomination. It’s got some strong competition from ‘Bridge of Spies’, ‘The Revenance’ ‘Sicario’ and ‘Star Wars’, however, I think it may end up winning this one, though personally I would still prefer the award to go to Star Wars since John Williams’s music is fantastic again.
The action scenes are also excellent. I say action scenes, it’s usually just a few people shooting at each other, but it’s at least done in a nice bloody gory style that Tarantino is known for and the effects are so good you will be wincing when you are watching. You will also hate yourself by the end for laughing at the comicness of each of these scenes.
What else is there to say about The Hateful Eight. It’s a really good movie. I would highly recommend it but I would say I would only recommend it if you have liked previous Quentin Tarantino movies. Ideally it stands up with its classics like ‘Reservoir Dogs’ and ‘Pulp Fiction’, ‘Inglorious Bastards’ and ‘Django Unchained’ although I think I would recommend those films over this one for various reasons, and I still say Django is my favourite of Tarantino films, but this is a very good film with an excellent suspenseful screenplay that really works, excellent cinematography and a really good cast delivering great performances. It won’t be to everyones taste and I am certainly aware that there will be a lot of people that will outright skip this movie, but I would say it’s really worth a watch. If you are unsure of it I would understand waiting for it to come out on DVD, but I think there are a lot of good reasons to see this one in a cinema while it’s still in that environment and I suspect with the Oscar nominations that happened yesterday from this review’s publication it will be sticking around there for a while. The film is slightly un-done by its plot twist and it’s overly long ending but that’s really a minor nit pick. I will say, it’s worth checking out.
“Did you see The Hateful Eight? What were your thoughts on it? Did you agree with me?”
We would love to hear your comments, and remember we are still accepting user content, so if you want to make something for this website, go to our ‘how to submit content’ section. I would love to know your thoughts on your favourite Quentin Tarantino film. You now have eight to choose from.
I am going to be continuing with the potential awards contenders next week so come back on 22 January where I will be reviewing the latest in the Rocky Franchise “Creed”.
Thanks for reading my first review of 2016, I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Calvin – Nerd ConsultantShare This Post: