The Hateful Eight
Solid Tarantino movie with too much dialogue and too little Tarantino non-linear storytelling
Acting
Directing
Script
Cinematopgraphy
Timeless
The Good
  • Amazing cast especially Roth, Russel, Leigh and Jackson
  • No matter what happens, Tarantino never really makes a bad movie
The Bad
  • Could have easily been 30 minutes shorter
  • A little too much build-up for too little "reward"
4.0Overall Score
A couple of years since the last Tarantino installment have passed and after he decided that Gawker-Gate was not really worth all the tantrum-throwing, our beloved Quentin went back to work and finished The Hateful Eight. And for his 8th movie, he decided to shoot a Western (again). One could assume that my opening sounds a little unexcited – and truth to be told, I was curious because it is a Tarantino movie after all (and they are hardly ever bad) but the reality is that neither do I love Western movies nor did I love Django Unchained. Actually, I did love Leo’s performance in Django, but overall I felt that the movie just dragged on for a little too long before getting down to business. But well, a new deck of actors, a new story (still a Western but with a completely different story line) – so I will try to analyze it with an open mind (PS: There may be spoilers ahead).
Courtesy of http://engadget.com

Courtesy of http://engadget.com

I would like to draw an analogy (which might sound weird) but it will hopefully explain how I feel about the film; for me Tarantino movies have become like new iPhones or to be more generic – launches of Apple gadgets in general. For some reason, the expectation to his movies are unequivocally high and you see him either redefining a genre or giving a film a stamp which only Tarantino can give. But his movies have become just good, solid movies with a few signature features which only he can truly master. The dialogues he writes are still totally one of a kind, the comical violence he instills is always displayed with the touch of dark comedy (so you can’t really be appalled) – and well there is always some kind of Samuel L. Jackson in the mix. The plot of H8 is rather simple:

In the dead of a Wyoming winter, a bounty hunter and his prisoner find shelter in a cabin currently inhabited by a collection of nefarious characters (imdb.com)

It seems that Tarantino has a soft spot for Western films – this time around he has drafted more of a stage play than a pure revenge Western – which honestly I was not expecting, I can’t even say what I was expecting but seeing all the buzz around “shot in 70 mm” – I guess I was not prepared to see a movie which is 90% shot inside a cabin. Tarantino does take his time to slowly build up his characters and their “stance” towards each other – as usual nobody is really good, some are really bad but it is not clear who wants what. And after they have all arrived in their 3-star cabin and everyone has expressed their dislike for one another, the plot becomes clearer – somebody may not be telling the truth about who he/she really is. And from that moment onwards, Tarantino starts to lay out some breadcrumbs in his typical storytelling mode of chapters with odd names. As usual for Tarantino, the elements for this movie were absolutely fantastic but still there was something missing for me.

The Hateful yet amazing cast

Ever since Pulp Fiction, Tarantino has had a talent for bringing back actors who were almost forgotten to the grand stage – even though not all were able to use the Tarantino boost in sustainable way (Travolta did, Grier did not). This time around he brings back Kurt Russel (who I haven’t seen in a A-movie for God knows how long) and Jennifer Jason Leigh; both were great actors in the 90s but have somewhat disappeared. And both are using the Tarantino stage to give us a fun (Russel) and angry/psychotic (Leigh) performance which we will from now onwards hopefully see more often again. Meanwhile, Tarantino has also provided young and aspiring actors with a stage which they could materialize on for their ongoing career – this time around it is Walton Goggins. Most of us only know him from TV (Sons of Anarchy und Justified) and he just delivers also a great performance as the somewhat crooked, incompetent, weird Sheriff to-be. Aside from that, the remaining cast is also the absolute creme-de-la-creme:

  • Samuel L. Jackson: No one delivers Tarantino monologues as awesome as he does.
  • Michael Madsen: The staple Tarantino characters who basically stars in every Tarantino movie (such SLJ)
  • Tim Roth: the British version of Christoph Waltz in Django – but equally enjoyable to watch

Tarantino dialogue

As mentioned above there is probably nobody in the film industry who can craft such (sometimes) absurd yet awesome dialogue or monologue for that matter. In the process of building up the stakes, he creates some amazing signature dialogues (Jackson and Goggins in the carriage, Jackson and Dern in the cabin) which in them alone already make for a good movie. The favorite (and probably weirdest one) was the SLJ story which ended in the involuntary act of love. Tarantino uses the vehicle of dialogues as usual intelligently to build tension and stakes between its characters.

The Suspense (…just took too long)

While Tarantino is a master of building up a story, this time around it just too darn long. And he probably doesn’t really care because when Tarantino wants to tell a story, he wants to tell it his way. In the past, I felt that his movies due to the parallel ongoing threads were more entertaining – as they build up the storyline by showing different paths of different characters which would at some point meet at an intersection of the movie. Those particular intersection were extremely rewarding at the time. Since this movie is staged in only one setting, there is only one of the “intermissions” and up until that point, it is a lot of talking which isn’t necessarily bad but there are some bits and pieces which made the movie a tad too long. From a motivational perspective, it did not become clear to me what the motivations of the bad guys ultimately was (expect being really mean of course). Once we are in post-intermission mode, the film picks up pace and we are in full Tarantino-Fun mode. But the question which poses me is, why the need for the extremely long build up (in fact that was the same question, I asked myself when watching Django).

Great but not amazing

To get back to my initial iPhone analogy – this film is definetly a very good movie (no doubt about that) and since I am a huge Tarantino fan, I do expect the ability to craft a film with better pacing and timing. Yes, I know Quentin, you can write great dialogue but a little less of that would have still delivered an amazing experience (maybe even a better one). All in all, Tarantino does deliver on his promise: great actors, comical violence, signature dialogue and leaves you guessing for quite some time about who “the bad guy really is”.

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