The Hateful Eight is the newest film from fan-favorite director Quentin Tarantino. Known for his use of stylized action, witty dialogue, and over-the-top violence, The Hateful Eight dutifully has all of the features, yet feels distinct within the director’s impressive filmography. It is Tarantino’s closest attempt at a “mainstream” storytelling experience, and while it still stands out above the horizon of typical Hollywood action films, this flirtation with normality did little to help the film stand out above his other works.
The Hateful Eight has had a strange and painful journey to the silver screen, starting with its script being leaked to the internet in January 2014. Tarantino was so distraught by the leak that he threatened to scrap the film all-together. Fans wishing to remain spoiler-free were left with nothing for a while, besides rumors of private staged script-readings with the actors, and false trailers for the film. Finally came the first official trailers, announcements of a 70mm road show tour, and a nationwide release date.
The story of the film is rather contained, especially for Tarantino. It deals with eight (well actually nine (well really actually more than nine)) characters stuck in Minnie’s Haberdashery as they wait out a brutal blizzard. Knowing that the story would almost entirely take place in a small cabin, Tarantino relies on his famed use of dialogue and his star-studded cast to make the film come alive. Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be enough life in The Hateful Eight to make it a truly great movie. Tarantino has been known to use scenes that appear to be dialogue for the sake of dialogue, but never has he taken it to such an extreme. In a way, The Hateful Eight feels like the first scene of Inglorious Basterds, but set in the Post-Civil War South and lasting almost 3 hours.
That’s not to say that the movie is a flop, however. It still has its fill of wonderful one-liners, tense moments, and stylized gunplay. It just seems that none of these moments really stick the way they should. One particular trademark “shocking” Tarantino moment involves a scene of truly brutal and cruel sexual assault and torture, and it ends up leaving a bad taste in the mouth more than truly provoking an emotional reaction from the audience. And in light of some of Tarantino’s comments about the political nature of this film in relation to America’s on-going history of racial issues, these scene becomes layers and layers more problematic.
One truly bright spot of the film is its wonderful soundtrack. Composed by none other than the legendary Ennio Morricone (click here, here, and here for a taste of his career’s work), it is one of Tarantino’s main points of praise to himself (among many others). Morricone is one of the all-time greatest movie composers, and for him to win another Golden Globe award for his work is a great thing to see. Tarantino has always been a master at creating atmosphere with music, and The Hateful Eight is no exception.
While it may not top the list of greatest films of the year, I still recommend checking out The Hateful Eight. Fans of Tarantino will likely find enough to be entertained, but don’t expect anything truly groundbreaking or unbelievable. With a filmography as impressive as his, Quentin Tarantino is allowed a few films that aren’t perfect. But that doesn’t mean they should be ignored entirely, especially by fans of his work, or of the preservation of old-school film.
Click here to see if The Hateful Eight is playing near you, and check out the trailer for the film below: