I will preface this by saying I am a moderate fan of Quentin Tarantino. I will see his movies when they come out, but I don’t love every one that I see.
So I started out 2016 by seeing the 70mm version of his latest, Hateful Eight. January 1, my roommate and I bought tickets, and settled in for the experience of The Roadshow, as the 70mm tour is being called..
And it was an experience.
The movie started with an overture sequence consisting of a placecard on screen as the swells of the score by Ennio Morricone built up a mood. Set in the Wild West, post-Civil War, during the winter, the first half of the film spends a lot of time introducing the eight main characters, but as vaguely as possible. See, one of the varmints is not who he says he is.
There’s a bounty hunter (Kurt Russell), who is transporting a condemned criminal (the excellent Jennifer Jason Leigh) across snowy Wyoming, circa the late 19th century. Before he can reach his destination, he meets an old acquaintance (Samuel L. Jackson) and a shady character who claims to be the new sheriff of the town they’re heading to (the equally excellent Walton Goggins).
They meet the other four when a blizzard traps them at an outpost. A ranch hand (Demián Bichir), the local hangman (Tim Roth), a mysterious gunman (Michael Madsen), and a elderly Confederate General (Bruce Dern). Interactions ensue, as each character meets the others.
I was really enjoying the film, then Tarantino decided to throw in a really vulgar scene that was totally unnecessary. The audio part would’ve been sufficient, but Tarantino felt the need to show the visual, and all I could think of in that scene is why they made an actor walk naked in the snow and do all those things. It completely took me out of the movie, and was nothing more than gratuitous.
From that point on, I remember the violence and gore more than I remember the story, and that’s a shame because it really was a good story.
There was a brief intermission, after a surprise character shows up, then the movie was just a continuous blood bath. I’m used to that in Tarantino movies, but Hateful Eight seemed overly self-indulgent, as the director went for excess in both visuals and dialogue. The film would’ve been just fine without the “N”-word being uttered every 10-15 minutes.
Overall, I enjoyed the 70mm Roadshow. It was a different kind of movie viewing experience than what we normally get, and the tones on the film looked richer. The tour book collectible from the Roadshow was a nice touch, too. I also enjoyed most of the film, especially some of the humor – Goggins gets some of the best lines in the film. But I think the excessive nudity and gore was a bit gratuitous, even for a Tarantino film.
It’s worth seeing Hateful Eight at least once, but you may be a bit disappointed by the end of the film. It’s a noteworthy achievement marred by the director’s penchant for excessive use of the “N”-word and gratuitous visuals. I really wanted to love it, but I only fell in like with it.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Rating: 8 out of 10 stars
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Samuel L. Jackson, Walton Goggins, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, Demián Bichir
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