The Hateful Eight is Great

Ben Atwater

Most cinephiles consider Quentin Tarantino one of the greats. So, when I told my friends I have not seen a Tarantino film, they were shocked. On the mission of building my film repertoire, I figured I would start with Tarantino’s most recent film, The Hateful Eight.
One of the key distinctions of The Hateful Eight from other films recently-released is the limited release in 70 mm format. Rather than the traditional digital projection, several theaters across the country screened the film off of physical film, an antiqued practice these days.

Quentin Tarantino directed The Hateful Eight  (AP photo)
Quentin Tarantino directed The Hateful Eight
(AP photo)

Set in the 1870s, The Hateful Eight is surprisingly small scale. The film opens with ex-Union General Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) aiming to bring dead corpses into the town of Red Rock for bounty. Alone in the snowy Wyoming frontier, Warren is picked up by another bounty hunter John Ruth, who is taking his bounty Daisy Domergue into the town of Red Rock alive. The trio also comes across the Sheriff of Red Rock, Chris Mannix, who is also aiming to make it into Red Rock.

Mannix, having been a Southern military leader in the Civil War, holds a natural resentment for Warren, being wartime enemies. As the stage coach advances towards Red Rock, a blizzard of epic proportions ensues, leading the stagecoach to stop at Minnie’s Haberdashery, an outpost in the middle of the frontier wilderness. Ruth, Warren, Mannix, and Domergue are greeted by a colorful cast of characters, all having found their own way to Minnie’s. Bob “The Mexican”, Joe Gage, Oswaldo Mobray, and General Smithers are all present, played by frequent Tarantino collaborators from Tim Roth to Michael Madsen. As everyone is stuck inside from the storm, tension builds as it becomes apparent a plot is afoot to kill the other occupants and save Domergue from the hangman in Red Rock.

The Hateful Eight is relatively simple, playing out more like a play than a film. As such, the characters are excellent, all bringing their own dynamic qualities that make them entertaining to watch. Each character is different and plays a crucial role in the story, with no one wasting screen presence. Tarantino excels in writing dialogue that deepens the story and character line by line. Jackson particularly stands out as the epitome of a badass to create one of his best and most iconic roles to date. The Hateful Eight is perhaps one of the best ensemble films I have ever seen.

The 70 mm format of The Hateful Eight clocks in at three hours and seven minutes. Complete with an overture and intermission, The Hateful Eight harkens back to the 1960s epic films that ran past three hours, not seen in many films currently. The regular release is still relatively long, at two hours forty seven minutes. However, having seen the longer cut, the time flies by, because the film is one of the most engaging and compelling movies of 2015.

In my opinion, The Hateful Eight was snubbed at the Oscars. If not nominated for Best Picture, it should have at least garnered nominations for its superb direction and screenwriting. At least Jennifer Jason Leigh was nominated for an Academy Award for her incredibly evil yet compelling portrayal of Daisy Domergue. When all is said and done, The Hateful Eight is an excellent murder mystery with a Western spin that is one of the most engaging films I have seen all year. Regardless of the lack of Oscar nods, The Hateful Eight is great and is worth full price.