Quentin Tarantino’s eighth film (not just setting the historical context, it actually announces it at the beginning of the film) continues his love for the Western. Set against the backdrop of the American Civil War, in a similar way to The Good, The Bad and the Ugly; but rather than depicting the dynamic between three main characters, The Hateful Eight tries it with, well, eight. Not as successfully IMO.
A further link with Sergio Leone’s masterpiece is the Ennio Morricone score, which incidentally also links it with The Thing (1982). That’s not all; let’s face it OB’s character is essentially MacReady (Kurt Russell’s character in The Thing) complete with corks hanging from his hat and snow glare sunglasses. Morricone score is generally excellent, but occasionally strays into odd Hammer Horror territory, particularly in the very first shot.
The whole atmosphere of the film is very reminiscent of The Thing actually: a group of people trapped in a confined space by inclement weather and not everyone is who they appear to be. Now, there is no being from another world, no “Who goes there?”, but there is a similar edge; and while it may not have the same tension as John Carpenter’s fabulous film, there is Tarantino’s attempt to recreate the heated wire in the petri dish of blood scene where the main character tries to figure out who is who.
Of course the cast are for the most part the regular Tarantino crew, and are excellent as usual. Samuel L Jackson is always watchable, whether he is raining furious anger or had enough of these snakes on this plane, and his character here is no different. Added to the likes of Sam, Michael Madsen and Tim Roth are the grizzly pair of Bruce Dern and Kurt Russell as well as the fresh faced Channing Tatum and the most excellent Jennifer Jason Leigh who most certainly deserves an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress.
Aside from all that, I thoroughly enjoyed the Hateful Eight and I actually thought that it was quite well paced, despite being two minutes longer than Django Unchained (I only saw the digital print, not the 70 mm print which is 20 minutes longer); and despite an intermission that I thought VUE had stuck in (rather destroying the atmosphere) but it seems like there was only an intermission for the longer 70 mm print, so I’m a little confused.
It does look glorious, the super-wide format allows lovely landscapes as well as a huge amount of interior detail and background character action. Cinematography by long-term Oliver Stone and Tarantino collaborator Robert Richardson is vibrant inside and sprawling outside.
Overall, hugely enjoyable if not that memorable, but then Tarantino’s pedigree is his own worst enemy in that respect. Great cast, ace music, lovely cinematography, all mixed with the usual sharp script and gory violence. But, you know, that’s just, like, my opinion man.