Hello Moviepilot followers. I thought I'd try something new on the sight this time. For a little over four years now, I've run my own blog where I've written my own movie reviews. I'm posting my latest one here for the Moviepilot audience. Before reading, I'll tell you I score on a scale of 0-5 stars, 5 being a movie of spectacular stock. I've only given that distinction to three movies in four years: The Avengers, Amazing Spider-Man (say what you will, I liked it), and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. That said, I hope you enjoy!
Review of the H8ful Eight
Genius? Madman? Maybe a little bit of both. There's no denying that producer/director, Quentin Tarantino, is one of a kind. With his ninth directorial feature, The H8ful Eight (H8ful, get it?), Tarantino gives us another eclectic mix of pathos, mirth, and mayhem.
One signature of a Tarantino film is the cast he uses. Like many top directors, he tends to rely on the same group through thick and thin. This time is no different as the likes of Samuel L. Jackson, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Kurt Russell, Zoe Bell (in a minor role), and Walton Goggins return for more whacky madness. This time around they're joined by new names in the Tarantino carousel (Bruce Dern, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Channing Tatum, and Demian Bichir). So, what type of story brought this "merry" bunch together?
Tarantino returns to 19th century America, the same century visited in his previous film, Django Unchained. However, this time the audience is taken to the wilds and wintery wonderland of post-Civil War Wyoming instead of the Antebellum South. Speeding desperately to a safe haven on the way to the town of Red Rock riding a six-horse stagecoach, we find infamous bounty hunter, John "The Hangman" Ruth (Russell) "escorting" his latest score, Daisy Domergue (Leigh), with the intention of collecting the $10,000 pricetag on her head. Ruth is a no-nonsense kind of guy who doesn't hesitate tuning Daisy up at every opportunity when she gets out of line, which is often. Now, before you feel too bad for Daisy falling victim to a man who gets his jollies beating women, know that she is a foul-mouthed, racist, murderous little psychopath.
Trying to stay ahead of a coming blizzard, the duo and stage driver run into Marquis Warren (Jackson), a former Union officer in one of the North's black regiments during the war. Warren is also a bounty hunter who has been stranded in the middle of the blizzard with his quarry of "prisoners" all of whom he has killed. Ruth and Warren are past acquaintances and, against Ruth's better judgement, he offers Warren and his cargo transport. Still farther along the trail, the group encounters another poor soul stranded in the middle of nowhere. This would be Chris Mannix (Goggins), who claims to be the soon-to-be sworn in new sheriff of Red Rock. Mannix is a former Confederate renegade who ran with his father's marauders during the war earning quite the reputation as a degenerate killer in some eyes. He convinces the two hunters that if they leave him to die on the road, they'll have a difficult time collecting their bounties with him being the new sheriff who would be in charge of paying them. Naturally there's a conflict between Mannix and Warren for several reasons.
The group, now five strong (eight if you count Warren's dead bodies), comes to the only building that can offer them shelter from the storm before moving on to Red Rock, Minnie's Haberdashery. Warren knows Minnie personally and is surprised when the coach is greeted by Bob (Bichir), a mysterious man of Mexican origin (this little fact will have meaning later) who claims to have been placed in charge of watching the lodge while Minnie is away visiting her mother. Inside the lodge, a motley group awaits the new arrivals. There's Oswaldo Mobray (Roth), an overly friendly Englishman who says he is the actual hangman of Red Rock. We have Joe Gage (Madsen), a quiet, brooding cowboy who says he's on his way to see his mother. Finally, there's Sanford Smithers (Dern), a former Confederate general who's there for unknown reasons. Over the course of a few hours, loyalties will be tested, alliances will form, and secrets will unfold. You get that many volatile personalities under one roof and what do you have? Why a Tarantino-style powder keg, of course.
The H8ful Eight is a bit of a departure for Tarantino in that he tries his hand at mystery for the first time that I am aware. Not every character is what he/she seems. Some are exactly as they seem. As you'll discover, these people have very few redeeming qualities, but, some goodness does emerge, and it comes from places you would never expect. Of course, some characters are just outright scumbags and are exactly who you think they are.
And what would a Tarantino movie be without buckets of blood, gleefully over-the-top violence, and a generous use of the N-word (by pretty much everyone outside of Jackson)? You have to admire someone who goes to places on film that most wouldn't dare. And, he gets away with it. Somehow the idiocy and nastiness in The H8teful Eight fits together in an intricate little puzzle works in the end. I don't know how he does it, but, he does in just about every movie he's associated with. When he should be offending you, he's entertaining you and making you laugh out loud at things you know you shouldn't be amused by. He has a talent. That's undeniable.
As racist as the characters in the film are, Tarantino also surprisingly gives you a modicum of hope. Horrible people aren't necessarily unredeemable. Racism is a learned behavior. It can be overcome. The messages in the movie go deep albeit in a twisted way.
While The H8ful Eight is still no Pulp Fiction in my mind, I do call it one of the director's better efforts. You want to cringe? You want to be grossed out? You want to laugh your head off? This film can be all of that for you. And, at almost three hours, you get plenty to chew on.
Well there it is everybody. I will definitely post more in the future if you like this one. To see more of my reviews, please visit my blog at www.sithlordreviews.blogspot.com.
If you are interested in my annual award designations, please visit www.goldenlightsaber.blogspot.com.
Thanks for your time and happy movie watching!