I am a huge Quentin Tarantino fan. Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained are four of his seven films I had watched until the release of The Hateful Eight. QT caters to a certain kind of audience. The kind that doesn’t mind gory slo-mo sequences and tons of swearing thrown in almost casually. There are times when the dialogue does get a little aggravating, especially because of QT’s obsession with the word ‘Nigger’. My personal ranking for the four QT films would be Inglourious Basterds, Reservoir Dogs-Pulp Fiction and Django Unchained.
DIRECTION: Quentin Tarantino does not waver from his style of direction. This film is as unapologetic and in-your-face as any of his others. His decision to film in Panavision 70mm was out of the blue and it would have been a great experience to watch the film like that. I ended up watching it in digital format in an aspect ratio similar to the kind used for 70mm films. The direction is one of the film’s weaker points, surprisingly. It drags on a little too much and you can’t help but think that Tarantino is making a film solely for the money it’ll bring in.
STORY: At first glance, it seems like the story is a slightly Westernised post-Civil War rehash of Reservoir Dogs. It’s good but QT’s definitely written better ones.
SCREENPLAY: Drags on a lot longer than it should have. And I have watched the digital version. The 70mm Roadshow one was twenty minutes longer. There are too many long-drawn sequences with ultra slow-motion. It’s tasteful the first couple of times but becomes dreary later. The shot of Major Warren humiliating General Smithers’ son is perhaps the most disgusting part of the film and I’m not being Sanskaari here. It shouldn’t have been in the film for certain reasons, one of which includes the fact that it extends the screenplay by a good six-seven minutes. It has its enjoyable parts though. The opening credits sequence has a mystery element. And of course, the bloody gore that Tarantino is notoriously famous for.
EDITING: Not too good. There should’ve been smoother transitions in the screenplay.
MUSIC: This is the first QT film to feature original music, the others mostly had recycled old stuff. It’s a good bit of music, one of the more positive aspects of the film. Ennio Morricone does a good job with it.
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Robert Richardson does the second most fantastic job in the film. The cinematography is fantastic. The opening sequence is beautifully shot. As are the stage-coach scenes. The landscape is depicted beautifully and brings the winter alive. Despite a majority of the film taking place in the confines of a shack, the camerawork is not affected and Richardson does a great job with the wide lenses of his cameras.
PERFORMANCES: Bruce Dern does a good job as the quiet Confederate General Smithers. Michael Madsen as Joe Gage has surprisingly little dialogue and his screen-time is overshadowed by the others. Channing Tatum does a fine job as Jody Domergue. Tim Roth is as good as he always is. His British accent adds a wonderful flavour to the film and his Oswald Mobray is a great character. Demian Bichir is low on screen time as well but his Bob isn’t as dull as Madsen’s Joe. Kurt Russell does a brilliant job as the loud-mouthed John ‘The Hangman’ Ruth. He brings a fascinating character to life. The film has three shining stars and Jennifer Jason Leigh is the first of those. Her Daisy Domergue act is despicably good and she deserves a massive round of applause for portraying such an uncivilised character so brilliantly. Walton Goggins is thoroughly enjoyable as the Sheriff of Red Rock, Capt. Chris Mannix. Goggins pulls off a well-written character in a brilliant manner. The transition of his character is truly amazing. The third and final star is Major Marquis Warren, aka Samuel L. Jackson. Jackson cannot be topped as an actor. If he is in a film, he will, in all probability,steal everyone else’s thunder. For me, Pulp Fiction is a great example of that. Here, he shares the thunder with partners-in-crime Leigh and Goggins. The Bounty Hunter character that he pulls off masterfully is not his best performance, but it would definitely be one of his best.
All in all, The Hateful Eight is enjoyable. Tarantino fans may come away a little disappointed and they rightly so. The film, at least in its Tarantino aspects, fails to impress. Leave that aside and consider the performaces, cinematography and music, and you’ll probably enjoy it.
My rating for The Hateful Eight: 7/10