Thursday, January 7, 2016
Review: The Hateful Eight (2015)
'The Hateful Eight' Is An Experience I Certainly Didn't Hate
Even though Quentin Tarantino is a great writer and loves his dialogue, with his more recent films, it looks like he is getting further and further away from his dialogue-heavy ego trip that is Death Proof.
The Hateful Eight follows the story of a bounty hunter named Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) who tags along with a fellow bounty hunter named John Ruth (Kurt Russell) and a prisoner he's captured named Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), only to end up in a cabin during a blizzard with four other individuals. As they become held up together, it turns out that not everyone is who they appear to be and tensions begin to mount.
The biggest strength with all of Quentin Tarantino's films tends to be the screenplay. So I will start right off with that. Once again, Tarantino proves that he is a master at creating the script pages. The first thing about it I'll discuss is the creation of the characters. Tarantino gives his rather despicable characters distinctive traits to make each of them stand out. You have Major Warren, the Northern bounty hunter looking to kill off Southern white racists out of retaliation; John Ruth, the bounty hunter who is misogynistic yet paranoid and naive; Daisy Domergue, the fugitive who wears her bruises as a badge of honor; Joe Gage, the red herring; Oswaldo, the pompous English tea-sipper; Sanford Smithers, the reclusive Confederate general who sticks out like a sore thumb amongst the crowd; Sheriff Mannix, who exudes a gleeful menace; and Bob, the Mexican who serves as mild comic relief. Even if these characters aren't the most likable, in the end, they're still characters.
In typical Tarantino fashion, he also has created a love letter to classic film genres. While his last film, Django Unchained, was an ode to Spaghetti Westerns but with a historical context, The Hateful Eight is a "whodunit" Western. It starts off as a bit of a road movie. Then when we get to the cabin, it goes to Agatha Christie-territory and then towards the end, it becomes a bloody slice-n-dice movie.
I may be overreading it, but I also found some context in the story involving racism because of how the white characters interact with Major Warren and another scene in the film that I won't spoil. I don't know if that is what Tarantino intended or not, but that is what I picked up when watching it.
Next, I'll delve into the score by Ennio Morricone. As soon as the film opens and we hear his score, I thought to myself, "This film is going to be good" and that the score would keep up with Tarantino's throwback-style vision and it certainly did. The score not only maintained the old-school feel of the film, but captured the mood of each scene.
Lastly, I thought the pacing was well-done. Even though the film was almost 3 hours, I didn't really care. In fact, because I enjoyed watching these characters and seeing the film switch gears in terms of genres, I didn't really want it to end. The cinematography by Robert Richardson was also beautiful. One of my favorite scenes is when four of the characters are in a stage coach and a few of them are kept in the rather ominous darkness. I thought that was nicely done.
Overall, The Hateful Eight is yet another successful love letter to classic cinema by Quentin Tarantino thanks to his screenwriting, the performances by the cast, as well as Ennio Morricone's score. It is a bloody ride, but it is still one hell of a ride!