Starring: Samuel L Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh etc
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
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.
Perhaps you expected a higher rating for this movie from Writer/Director, Quentin Tarantino? Sorry, I want to rate it higher but I just can’t do it.
Naturally, The Hateful Eight stays true to Tarantino’s grotesquely violent style... he never disappoints with the gore. You can always count on him to drain every ounce of blood from his characters in a delightfully gruesome manner, but sadly this movie lacks chemistry and heart. Chemistry between characters, and chemistry between actors.
Okay, perhaps I went into it expecting it to be more like Django Unchained; I freely admit that I was truly surprised to like that movie as much as I did as I'm not a big Tarantino fan to begin with, but somehow I expected more from this western.
Django, in my opinion, had actors that really oozed chemistry and brought out the best of the worst of their characters. Waltz and Fox paired up so seamlessly that no matter the subject matter they were a joy to watch. Tarantino gave viewers someone to get behind and root for with Django and when he finally gets his revenge the viewer gets to feel a guilty twinge of sadistic glee at how he goes about it. Having someone to root for (whether a villain or a hero) is necessary in a movie for the viewer to feel invested in what happens.
Sadly, for me, Hateful Eight is missing that component completely!
I don’t fault the actors in this movie for that either, this comes down to the writing of the story. There are some truly gifted performances from several actors (particularly Jennifer Jason Leigh in my opinion), but sadly they all seemed to stand alone, they're disconnected. None of the performances ever really gelled cohesively in my view.
There wasn't a single character that I ever found myself giving a tinker's damn about, especially not once all the proverbial cards were on the table. As far as I was concerned the entire cabin could have been blown to smithereens, the movie would have been much shorter….and I would have found it much improved.
Even the little mystery Tarantino tried to weave into the story was lacking. First, it was fairly obvious to the viewer who the culprit was. Second, it felt to me that it was drawn out far too long since it was so utterly obvious and made to be too much of the story. I hope you who are reading this realize I am working hard to avoid spoilers (you’re welcome). The whole whodunit is staring you and the other characters in the face in a fairly glaring fashion. If you don’t have that one figured out long in advance of it’s reveal then it’s back to the Scooby Doo mystery van for you!
Speaking of drawing things out way too long, that is my last issue with this movie — it’s way too long! A movie that is set basically in one room really needs something compelling to keep the viewers attention and that was sorely lacking for me. Sure we have lots of violence, but even that gets boring after it's continually shoved in your face. The main problem I had however is that I found the pace of this story to be extremely slow; so expecting the viewer to sit and watch it for over three hours (187 minutes) is, in my view, simply asking too much. I’m certain I would have had a better opinion of it if Tarantino hadn’t been given me so much time to get bored with it.
What I did like about this movie is the old cinematography that Tarantino used, but even that choice confused me a bit. The true wide-screen technology that has gone the way of the Dodo bird with the advent of digital technology is beautifully used for the outdoor scenes and for those scenes, with that locale, I can see why he would be tempted to use it. But for the indoor scenes that make up so much of this movie it doesn’t really make sense to me. There, however, I will give leeway for artistic license and leave it at that.
Overall, it’s not a “bad” movie per say, I just found it really disappointing and over-hyped…simply not up to my expectations. Once again, I don’t fault the actors for this…this comes down to simply a weak story and that lands squarely on Tarantino’s shoulders.