The Hateful Eight starts with two of the octet, hangman John Ruth (Kurt Russell) taking his prisoner, Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), to Red Rock to hang. What’s her crime? Well, you’ll find that out eventually, but for a film that runs almost three hours in its standard form, it takes almost 90 minutes before it feels like it even *begins* to attempt to get going.
En route, and having to stop off and take refuge in a cabin to shelter from a fierce blizzard, they pick up a hitchhiker, Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L Jackson)… well, I say hitchhiker, but because it’s the 19th Century Wild West, Warren is parked in the middle of the thoroughfare causing Ruth’s stagecoach to stop. They also pick up the new Sheriff of Red Rock, Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins).
With the rest of the cast including Tim Roth as the exceedingly posh Oswaldo Mobray – and one of the scant few characters of slight interest, plus Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, Zoë Bell, plus Channing Tatum being surprisingly not bad in a drama role, although he was superb in Foxcatcher, the film is split into six chapters of varying lengths and it acts like a Western, for example, with Russell declaring himself with his name, John Ruth, as if everyone’s supposed to know precisely who he is. There’s no internet back in the 1860s, so it’s not as if everyone can just Google the next randomer to turn up.
Alas, The Hateful Eight goes on way too long and even when they do get to the meat of the story, it’s practically vegetarian. Yes, there’s no strength to it whatsoever. You don’t care about any of the characters, so when people die (NOT a spoiler for a Tarantino flick), it matters not as you were never rooting for them, and when the blood IS spilled, it all lacks any form of coherence or plot, and for anyone counting the drops, there’s certainly not as much blood on display as Django Unchained.
Next time you make a film, QT, give Samuel L Jackson a rest. He’s the same everytime, and even getting top billing he has nothing new to add here. Also, stop peppering the script with the word “nigger” every five minutes. It’s like he has an obsession with it! It’s lazy and has long lost any shock value. The storyline is also similarly lazy and at one point it feels like its turned into an episode of Columbo, while there’s also rambling scenes with tedious inconsequential conversation that goes nowhere. Long gone are the days when Tarantino wrote engaging inconsequential conversation such as the “Royale with Cheese” in Pulp Fiction.
There’s an original score by Ennio Morricone – the first time Tarantino has commissioned a score, instead of just raiding the music archives – but (a) he still DOES raid those music archives, such as an early use of The White Stripes’ Apple Blossom, and (b) most of the Morricone has been lifted from The Exorcist II: The Heretic and The Thing. Hence, let’s not go throwing award nominations at him for his small contribution to this movie.
One of the most intriguing things I heard about this film was that Quentin Tarantino chose to shoot it entirely in Ultra Panavision 70mm, a format which hasn’t been used for many a decade. However, I had hoped that the Manchester IMAX would show it, partly because they have the capability to project in 70mm and also because, as I’ve mentioned on a number of occasions, it’s the second largest IMAX screen in Europe (second only to the BFI in London). They showed Interstellar in 70mm IMAX and I was also hoping the same would apply for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. Alas, despite Disney paying $4.06bn for Lucasfilm, and already having made that money back before this movie opened, they were too much of a cheap-ass to make more than three 70mm IMAX prints for the UK – one in 3D and two in 2D.
It turns out, with this film, that there’s only one cinema in the entire UK that is capable of projecting Ultra Panavision 70mm – the Odeon Leicester Square. Not only are they showing the film in its intended format, but they’re also the only cinema showing it in its “Roadshow version”, where the 167-minute running time is extended by 20 minutes because it has an intermission including an additional eight-minute score by Morricone.
Yes, an intermission. Remember those? We used to have those even when the film was only a mere two hours long! I can still remember seeing one come halfway through Rainman at the long-gone Davenport Theatre in Stockport, where the lights would come up and ladies would come out to serve overpriced ice-cream and cartons of orange drink.
That said, this latest experience won’t come cheap. Most seats are £20 apiece, with the Royal Circle at £25 (although got for a pre-5pm screening Monday to Thursday and it’s half price). Then again, as a one-off experience, I’d have paid that… prior to seeing the movie the first time – I certainly wouldn’t fancy sitting through it a second time.
Hence, for The Hateful Eight, most screenings will take place with you having the entire 168 minutes in one sitting, with the usual, ridiculous 30 minutes of adverts beforehand. No doubt the Roadshow version will appear on the eventual Blu-ray and, possibly, the DVD, but it won’t be the same.
That said, it’s like giving us all a Formula 1 racing car and only allowing us to drive it on public roads – we won’t feel the benefit. And despite the filming format, most of the time, we only see the inside of a barn, so he may as well have saved the studio’s money. As for the audio, the only thing going on in the surround speakers is the whistling of the wind.
Some people have said The Hateful Eight is Tarantino’s masterpiece. No, it’s the complete opposite. He’s had some hits – Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown and Inglorious Basterds; some misses – Death Proof (the last time Kurt Russell featured in one of his productions), Kill Bill Part 2 (Part 1 was only slightly better) and the also-overlong Django Unchained; and now a Christmas turkey (well, it was released on December 25th in the US).
The Hateful Eight is released in cinemas tomorrow, and the soundtrack is available to buy now, and click on the packshot for the full-size image.
Running time: 168 minutes (or 188 for the Roadshow version)
Format: 2.76:1 (Ultra Panavision 70 (anamorphic))
Released: January 8th 2016
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Producer: James Gay-Rees
Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino
Music: Ennio Morricone
Major Marquis Warren: Samuel L Jackson
John Ruth: Kurt Russell
Daisy Domergue: Jennifer Jason Leigh
Sheriff Chris Mannix: Walton Goggins
Bob: Demián Bichir
Oswaldo Mobray: Tim Roth
Joe Gage: Michael Madsen
General Sandy Smithers: Bruce Dern
OB Jackson: James Parks
Minnie Mink: Dana Gourrier
Six-Horse Judy: Zoë Bell
Ed: Lee Horsley
Sweet Dave: Gene Jones
Charly: Keith Jefferson
Chester Charles Smithers: Craig Stark
Gemma: Belinda Owino
Jody: Channing Tatum
Child: Arnar Valur Halldórsson (uncredited)
Narrator: Quentin Tarantino (uncredited)
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.