The Film (4/5)
The Hateful Eight is the eighth film by director Quentin Tarantino. The film continues his current trend of making film’s within the western genre following his prior Django Unchained. The film opens with John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell) riding in the back of a carriage in the Wyoming wilderness in the middle of winter handcuffed to his latest, still living bounty, Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh). They are heading to Red Rock, where Ruth will collect a $10,000 reward, and Daisy will be executed. However, while on the snowy path they are stopped by another bounty hunter Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson). Warren is also heading to Red rock to claim a bounty, and has 3 corpses in tow. He arranges with Ruth to share his carriage, and some roof space for his dead bountines, and the pair set off for their destination.
Unfortunately, for the pair and their driver (James Parks), a nasty blizzard is heading their way. Before they can get much further they run into a man who says he is the new, but not yet sworn in Sheriff of Red Rock, Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins). With the storm fast on their tail, the group stops at Minnie’s Haberdashery to wait out the storm. Unfortunately, Minnie and her husband are not there, replaced by a Mexican man claiming to be Minnie’s assistant, and a few other people who are also trapped in the blizzard. Before the storm is over the group will find that there is much more bringing them together than bad weather.
Quentin Tarantino shot Hateful Eight using 65mm film stock for a 70mm presentation. This has only been used for a handful of productions like It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World and How the West Was Won. It has not been used since 1966, and so for the film’s theatrical exhibition Tarantino and Anchor Bay had to make sure theaters were equipped to project the film utilizing special projectors with Ultra Panavision lenses to get the proper widescreen scope of the film. Tarantino had promoted the film as a 70mm epic prior to it’s release, and I believe that set expectations within the viewing public for a certain type of epic western.
Hateful Eight is not that epic western. Hateful Eight is a rather interesting film just for the way it uses that 65mm format. While the early portions of the film, and the flashback sequences do show off some beautiful snowy vistas, the film primarily takes place within the one location, Minnie’s Haberdashery. The film in actuality is more of a character piece, and blends the western with suspense, mystery, and splatter. The depth of visual information recorded on the 65mm frame is therefore mostly taken up by the details of the location, and the nuanced performances of the Hateful Eight cast. Especially when in conversation scenes and in close up, one can very easily see that Tarantino’s gamble paid off quite nicely here as viewers are privy to every little detail in each actor’s performance.
Hateful Eight is more though then a technical filmmaking experiment. It is an excellent addition to Tarantino’s existing canon. The film runs 3 hours long, and yet never feels the weight of it’s running time. The film has great dialogue, and excellent performances. An amazing soundtrack by Ennio Morricone, and an air of suspense that is sure to keep viewers on the edge through to the end.
Hateful Eight is presented by Anchor Bay/Starz with a 1080p AVC encoded 2:76:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer that is absolutely perfect. This one is extremely well detailed, with well reproduced colors, and deep inky blacks. I can’t find anything to complain about here.
The audio is presented with a DTS-HD 5.1 track in English. The track is excellent throughout, with dialogue, score, and ambient effects coming through nicely, and no audio defects to complain about.
A couple of short featurettes one on the 70mm format, and another is a fluff piece 5 minute making of the film.
Hateful Eight is another excellent entry in the filmography of Quentin Tarantino. Though I enjoyed his prior film Django Unchained, I never found myself revisiting it. This one I could very easily see myself going back to a few more times. The Blu-ray from Starz/Anchor Bay is gorgeous, but comes lacking in the extras department. RECOMMENDED.