Last weekend, I got the opportunity to see THE HATEFUL EIGHT’s limited Roadshow, 70mm showing. This exclusive print of the film ran for approximately 6 minutes longer than the standard theatrical release, opened with an Overture, had an intermission, and you received a souvenir program. It was probably the best movie going experience I’ve had since I was a child seeing Batman for the first time. Unfortunately, the Roadshow release is playing in fewer than 50 of the country’s biggest cities, but if you get the opportunity to see this film the way is was intended to be seen, I highly recommend you take it. If not, it’s a wonderfully enjoyable film that I still highly recommend seeing in any format available to you (except for illegally pirating it, obviously).
The Hateful Eight, or The H8ful Eight as it has been horrendously stylized, is the 8th film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. It stars many of Tarantino’s favorite actors including Samuel L. Jackson, Walton Goggins, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, and Bruce Dern, along with some new faces to the world of Tarantino such as Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Channing Tatum. All of these people play some pretty hateful characters stuck through a snowstorm in a small cabin in Wyoming. That’s pretty much all you need to know, aside from the preconceived knowledge that a Tarantino film refuses to allow any character to not bleed at least a little. Believe it or not, this is a gruesome film: a lot of blood, a lot of swearing, and a lot of violence. This is nothing new in Tarantino’s filmography, but at times it can be a little unsettling. Sure, there’s a certain level of suspension of disbelief to be obtained here, but I’m fairly certain people’s heads do not explode when shot at close range… Although, I’ve never seen it live.
While it’s not apparent from the trailers, the majority of the story takes place in a single cabin. This was a pretty big let down for me, as the landscapes are absolutely stunning. The 70mm film format has such a large range that I wish it were more frequently utilized in this over three hour film. Regardless, it plays out like a paranoia-ridden game of Clue, very similar to 1982’s THE THING also starring Kurt Russell with a score also by Ennio Morricone. And in that sense, it’s really intriguing, keeping the audience guessing over who’s in cahoots with whom. It was difficult for me to actually want any of the characters to succeed, because they’re all so vile and cruel, but I quickly realized that that’s kind of the point. It is called The HATEFUL Eight after all. No one really likes each other, and everyone just wants to get out of that cabin alive. But within a minute of everyone stepping inside, you know that not everyone is going to be leaving.
Like I said earlier, this is a Tarantino flick all in all. There’s not really anything new to be seen from a directing or writing standpoint. His dialogue is off the charts, the cinematography is gorgeous, but as a director, I can’t help but feeling that this film was a little stale for him. Maybe I’m just being too critical, but I wish he would step way out of his comfort zone for his 9th film to really grow and change a little bit. If you love Quentin the way he is, The Hateful Eight will be a treat. If you’ve got a “been there, seen that” attitude regarding his work, still check it out. It might not be refreshing, but it’s a heck of a lot of fun.
THE HATEFUL EIGHT – Dir. Quentin Tarantino
Run Time: 3 hours 7 minutes (whew)
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Bruce Dern, Tim Roth