The Hateful Eight – 3 out of 5
Ever since I first saw Pulp Fiction when it first hit the now ancient medium of VHS, I instantly became a fan of Quentin Tarantino. Since then, having his name alone attached in any way to a film instantly resulted in me in seeking the feature and digesting the ever-loving hell out of it. I’ve found the man to be a magician when it comes to intriguing and engaging dialogue, wicked stories, incredible camera work and the use of music that can only be described as perfect. When I heard he was making another Western—hell, when I heard he was making another movie—I was quite excited. I had planned on seeing The Hateful Eight in the theaters but it didn’t pan out but the minute I could get my hands on it from my local RedBox (name drop, please pay me), I was falling all over myself to see it…but, when it was over, I started to wonder if maybe I was too excited and the film didn’t live up to my expectations.
|This shot looks like something from a Goo Goo Dolls video...a horribly depressing|
Goo Goo Dolls video--well, more depressing than their usual videos.
While trying to get his prisoner; the criminal Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), bounty hunter John Ruth (Kurt Russell) finds himself stranded in a cabin during a blizzard with several strangers. There’s a fellow bounty hunter; Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson), John’s stagecoach driver O.B. (James Park), a soon-to-be deputized Sherriff (Walter Goggins), a mysterious man from Mexico (Demián Bichir), a quiet cowboy (Michael Madsen), a former Confederate general (Bruce Dern) and a hangman named Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth). Domergue will fetch Ruth quite the bounty and he’s paranoid someone in the cabin is working with the woman in order to free her and get her back to her gang but is he being overly cautious or is there really something fishy going on in the cabin?
|The plot twist is the announcement that Tim Roth will make another appearance|
in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Nope, sorry, that's just the wish I kept
mumbling to myself every time I saw him on screen.
Maybe my expectations were way too high for The Hateful Eight but I was shocked to discover that, when the film was all said and done, that I found the first Tarantino film that I didn’t like. Up to this point, I’ve loved everything the man has done (Yes, everything. I know someone right now is mentioning how they hate Death Proof) but this film just came off like a boring mess that never really felt like it was going anywhere.
|But, at the very least, it had Sam Jackson in it and whenever I get to see him|
in something I win.
The Hateful Eight is a long film and, to me, it felt like the extended running length was working against the story and actively preventing intrigue and interest from building. Hell, for over an hour, I wasn’t even sure which route the film was going to take because it felt like there was a big and interesting mystery of some sinister dealings that probably occurred at the cabin before Ruth arrived and then there was the whole if someone was going to try and take Ruth’s bounty or not. Either route is a good one to take but for a good chunk of the film, the story felt like it lacked focused and I really had no idea if the story was ever actually going to zero in on what it wanted to do or if it even planned on doing anything. It was pretty sad to see a feature from such an arrogantly talented director feel so…so directionless.
|Hey, did I ever mention that I went to school with his nieces? Because I totes did.|
Even worse than the feeling that the story was just wandering around in needless character backstory and exposition that did nothing to help the focus of the plot, is the fact I found absolutely none of the characters that interesting or engrossing. I absolutely loved the cast and felt they all were doing an amazing job with their performances but I just couldn’t get invested in any of the characters. Sure, I’m obsessed with Sam Jackson (I actually own a “Bad Mother Fucker” wallet because of him and Quentin Tarantino) and I love Kurt Russell and his amazing head of hair and kick-ass facial hair he is rocking in this film but I just found I couldn’t really give two shits about their characters. At times, interests did start to sprout but before buds would form and start to flower, the story would drag aimlessly and I found myself struggling to keep that minor interest.
|Hey, Channing Tatum is in this! Things just got sexy!|
My only real complaints about The Hateful Eight rest in the story (and definitely the fact that the N-bomb is said way too much in it…it’s hard to hear that word as often as it is spat out in this film). The entire tale just felt bloated and without direction but, aside from this, the film is actually amazingly well put together. From a technical standpoint, the film has all the amazing things you’d expect to see from QT’s films. The visuals are incredible, the shots are unique, the music is perfectly picked, the scene composition is a thing of art and the score from Ennio Morricone is so awesome that I just don’t have the words to adequately sum up how well they fit the Western locales and Tarantino’s visual style.
|Gawd damn...that man's hair will outlive him.|
I really wanted to love The Hateful Eight and it physically and emotionally pains me to not enjoy it and give it a bad review (even though I don’t really believe that a 3 out of 5 is a bad review). Even though it has a great cast and they are all doing a great job, and the film is, from a technical standpoint, a work of art, the story was just a tragic, uneven ball of nothing that, admittedly, did get a little better in the third act. However, even being saved in the final stage of the film gets bogged down as Tarantino decides to make up for the lack of his trademark violence and gore by going overboard with that trademark. The Hateful Eight has its merits and is a fairly decent notch in a great director’s belt and had the potential to be a great slow-burn Western thriller but, ultimately, I did not enjoy this film and was pretty disappointed with the story.