Release: 9th May 2016
Format: BR / DVD / DGTL
Bounty hunter John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell) and his fugitive prisoner (Jennifer Jason Leigh) encounter another bounty hunter (Samuel L. Jackson) and a man who claims to be a sheriff. Hoping to find shelter from a blizzard, the group travels to a stagecoach stopover located on a mountain pass. Greeted there by four strangers, the eight travelers soon learn that they may not make it to their destination after all.
There are two kinds of Tarantino movie; the ‘flick’ and the ‘film’. The first is brash, anarchic and a tad over zealous, while the other is more measured, breezy and focused. Both are nihilistic and more than a smidge in love with B-Movie logic, but very rarely will a fan of one be a fan of both. You are either a Kill Bill kind of person, or an Inglorious Basterds one. Slowly but surely, Tarantino has tried to melt his two forms together in an effort to have his cake and eat it. There was Pulp Fiction, but you could argue that not since has he managed to make a film that is at once so ridiculously kitsch and offensive, yet so brilliantly enjoyable and smart. But now we have The Hateful Eight, a gleeful mixture of brash charm and eager smart. And it just moseyed onto our screens in ‘glorious 70mm’. Friends and countrymen gather around, for the Hateful Eight is here…Unless, of course, you are one in the minority who dared to label the film, “boring.”
Much like From Dusk till Dawn, one of the director’s earlier efforts as a screenwriter, you could take out a blood soaked flick-knife (probably with some awesome nickname like ‘Chuckie’, engraved on it) and cut The Hateful Eight right down the middle. On one half you have a pithy collection of verbal exchanges in the guise of a road movie, and on the other, a claret soaked onslaught of gratuitous violence. Don’t let the set dressing fool you; The Hateful Eight has more in common with the horror genre than it does any conventional western.
Aside from Ennio Morricone’s obscenely infectious score, this is a film that runs on its actors and the words coming out of their mouths. It goes without saying that Tarantino’s casting is spot on. You might argue that Michael Madsen is the weak link – a man whose acting style ebbs and flows between horizontal and comatose – but the main body of acting surrounding him is so rich, he barely registers anyway. The Hateful Eight’s true stars are Jennifer Jason Leigh and Walton Goggins, who regularly steal the show. The former is like a viscous pit pull chewing on the lens, whilst the latter, being the wordsmith that he is, dances verbal circles around his co-stars.
At nearly 3 hours long, the film seems to just fly by. Tarantino dared to release a longer cut with his 70mm release, but sadly this version is not included here; even so, the additional footage is nothing to worry about. Call it Reservoir Dogs 2.0, call it Quentin Tarantino’s The Thing, call it whatever you like, just don’t call it boring; because that is one thing you could never accuse a Tarantino film of being.
Film Grade: A-
Jeepers! What a lackluster collection of features. Some EKP (electronic press kit) interviews that last less time than a resident of Minnie’s Haberdashery, and a surface level look at the 70mm format. Seriously, for a man who loves cinema so much, Tarantino doesn’t seem too interested in sharing that world with us.
Special Features Grade: D-
Clearly you’ll be buying this for the film and not the extras. Even then, if you aren’t a ‘hard copy’ faithful, then the digital version might be calling instead.