“The Hateful Eight” Movie Review

The most important thing to take away from this movie: Samuel L. Jackson is cool again. This epic Western mystery film from Quentin Tarantino was released upon Christmas Day, 2015, grossing $102.5 million at the box office. The movie was reportedly cancelled after the script with an alternate ending leaked online, causing Tarantino to want to publish it as a novel instead. After a live-reading, though, he changed his mind, and for the better of all of us. I was originally going to review Ex Machina or Sisters, but the Hateful Eight was so good that it persuaded me to rave about it instead. Set several years after the American Civil War, the film follows eight different strangers, The Hangman, The Prisoner, The Bounty Hunter, The Sheriff, The Confederate, The Little Man, The Mexican, and The Cow Puncher, who take refuge in a stagecoach stopover in Wyoming when an intense blizzard rolls over. But something is amiss; there’s a culprit responsible for something bad. It’s essentially a Western, Quentin Tarantino-esque version of the movie Clue. The concept of several strangers being stuck in a cold environment with little trust for one another is also reminiscent of the 1982 cult horror film starring Kurt Russell, The Thing. Each character is there in the haberdashery for their own ambiguous reasons. John Ruth is a bounty hunter known for bringing his captives in alive, including the unfortunate and racist Daisy Domergue, Major Marquis Warren is a former black Union war hero turned violent bounty hunter, Chris Mannix is the son of a Lost-Causer and the new sheriff of Red Rock, Oswaldo Mobray is the charismatic hangman from Red Rock, Joe Gage is a flamboyant cowboy on his way to visit his mother, Bob is the caretaker of the haberdashery while it’s owner is away, and Sanders Smithers is a former Confederate general coming to the state where his son died. The entire cast does a great job. It was nice to see Samuel L. Jackson let his mouth loose, and Jennifer Jason Leigh earned her Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination. Bruce Dern, in particular, looked horrified during a scene where a story of his son is being shared. As always, Tarantino is a master at building characters and tension through dialogue, and this being a mystery the tension is turned up a bit. Let’s get into the 70 mm format. While most directors are jumping at the most advanced digital camera to make their movies, The Hateful Eight is the eleventh movie in history and the first since 1966 to utilize Ultra Panavision 70 mm film. It creates a wider frame and you can even see it sprocket-bobbing during the Overture. It just helps bring out the beauty of the cinematography, and it even adds six extra minutes of film, plus a 15-minute Intermission. You may want to use it to take a break from the carnage and intensity. Speaking of the Overture, the music is absolutely astonishing. The first Western score by Ennio Morricone in 35 years, it helps add to the film’s ominous tone and suspense. I promise, if you try to listen to the first song while eating food with your family, you can’t help but get that shifty-eyed look. There are two major flaws. The runtime of this movie is just over three hours, and there are a couple scenes that feel like they could’ve been trimmed. Secondly, about two thirds of the way, the beans are spilled, and the suspense is kind of gone. Now it’s time for Tarantino carnage. Despite that, The Hateful Eight is still a suspenseful and violent epic that makes a worthy addition to Quentin Tarantino’s filmography, but I’m not sure if I like it as much as other films like Inglourious Basterds. If this movie and Django Unchained don’t bring back the Western genre, I don’t know what will.

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