Tuesday, December 29, 2015

'The Hateful Eight' Is Another Tarantino Masterwork

The Hateful Eight is intentionally introduced as “the 8th film by Quentin Tarantino.”  But if you check his filmography, the movies he’s credited of being both director and writer of – meaning the project is fully his – are nine.  Now, which of those doesn’t count?  Are Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 counted as “one” movie?  Does the Death Proof segment in Grindhouse not count?  It’s confusing.

Set in Wyoming a few years after the Civil War, The Hateful Eight tells the story of eight strangers – nicknamed “The Bounty Hunter”, “The Hangman”, “The Prisoner”, “The Sheriff”, “The Mexican”, “The Little Man”, “The Cow Puncher”, and “The Confederate” – who find themselves stuck with each other in a stagecoach stopover due to a blizzard.

The movie is as well-written and well-directed as one would expect from a Quentin Tarantino film.  However, it isn’t quite there with his best films.  Personally, I believe Django Unchain was a far more better Western.  If I’m going to rank Tarantino’s films, The Hateful Eight will probably be second to the last (or third to the last, if Death Proof is included).  But that’s not really a bad thing, for all of Tarantino’s films are pretty good.  The Hateful Eight might not be as good as most of them, but it’s still a great movie on its own – definitely one of the best movies I’ve seen this year.

The first half of the movie consists of talk-heavy scenes.  But it’s never boring at all.  Tarantino is known to be one of the greatest writers of dialogue there are.  Thus, even when a scene only involves characters talking for a lengthy time, it’s still very captivating and entertaining.  The dialogue-driven scenes in the first half of The Hateful Eight thoroughly flesh out the characters – revealing their personalities and motivations – and brilliantly build the whodunit set-up for the rest of the movie.

Yep, The Hateful Eight is a Western, but it’s more of a whodunit mystery in a Western setting.  Yes, guns are fired in this movie, but not the kind of action-packed gunfights that Django Unchained has.  When this movie was first announced, based on its title, I was expecting it to be a Magnificent Seven with Tarantino’s touch; I presumed that it’s going to be about a ragtag band of misfits who loathed each other but are forced by a circumstance to band together.  It didn’t turn out like that – and I have a slight disappointment about it – but it’s still happens to be a very interesting tale nonetheless, plenty of twists and cool moments.  And it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t get violent and bloody – it does, of course.  This is a Tarantino film after all.

In summary, as an overall product – with the script, production, and incorporation of old-fashioned cinema techniques and elements – The Hateful Eight is a further testament that not only is Quentin Tarantino a master filmmaker, but a passionate scholar of the craft as well.

Miscellaneous musings – with SPOILERS:
  • Early in the movie, Tim Roth’s character, “The Little Man”, reminded me of Christoph Waltz’s character in Django Unchained, Dr. King Schultz. For a while there, I even thought Roth was Waltz.
  • Actually, this movie would have been more appropriately titled as “The Hateful Nine.”  Yes, the ninth man being O.B. Jackson, the Stagecoach Driver.  He was more than a supplementary character in the story.  In fact, he even outlasted one of the “Eight” for a couple of minutes – “The Confederate” died before O.B.  did.  O.B.’s exclusion kind of bugged me.
  • I knew that Channing Tatum was cast in this movie, so I was a bit confused at first why he wasn’t part of the “Hateful Eight.”  But I realized that this movie doesn’t necessarily need to just have eight characters.  And I was right, Channing’s character turned up in the second half of the movie.  And the sudden appearance of his character was a nice twist.
  • I was hoping that there would be an intense Mexican stand-off scene involving three or more parties.  But that didn’t happen.  When they point guns at each other, it’s either between two groups or just two individuals.
  • I would love to see Leonardo DiCaprio back in a Tarantino film.  Maybe as the hero this time. 

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