The Hateful Eight HD Digital Ultraviolet UV Code
A gory, claustrophobic Western that only Tarantino could make
Once again, Tarantino has given us an over-the-top crazy, sometimes brilliant, completely divisive and (I'd say) very entertaining film here. If you've seen his films, especially the more recent ones like Django Unchained and Inglorious Basterds, you know exactly what kind of crazy to expect here. If you don't know his films by now, or know them and don't like them..well, this one probably won't be the one to change your mind.
If you recall a few years back, Tarantino had written a script that was leaked online by an industry insider, he got upset and then publicly declared that as a result, he was going to trash the whole idea and would never actually shoot it. Well, it turns out after some time had passed, he started to come around to the idea of hosting some live table reads of the script and then announced that he was going forward with filming it. I actually read that script and it just didn't do it for me the way many of his others had, so I wasn't terribly excited to hear it was going to be made but I was curious and respectful enough of his skill as a filmmaker to watch anything he directs.
It only took me a few minutes into the film to change my mind about it. It starts out with some gorgeous sweeping landscape shots (shot in 70 mm) and an awesome original score by none other than Ennio Morricone. We see a stagecoach making its way through snow-covered mountain terrain and pull up to one major Marquis Warren, Samuel L. Jackson, who is stranded by the side of the road with a pile of dead bodies he plans to haul in for bounty. In the coach are no-nonsense bounty hunter, John "the Hangman Ruth, (Kurt Russell, in top form) and his prisoner Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh.)
It turns out that Warren and Ruth know each other and after some discussion, Warren is allowed to ride along to seek shelter from the oncoming blizzard. They make their way to an inn known as "Minnie's Haberdashery" (where pretty much the entire rest of the film takes place) to wait out the storm, where they meet several other seemingly random characters played by Walton Coggins, Bruce Dern, along with Tarantino stalwarts Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, and others. Once here, Ruth soon gets the idea that things are not what they seem and that someone in the group of eight (or so) is out to stop him from delivering Domergue to the gallows.
What instantly won me over about this film was the amazing cinematography, the witty, well-crafted Tarantino dialogue, and the spot-on casting of all the main characters, who are pretty much all brilliant here. It also seemed like what Tarantino had done here was to disguise what is essentially a remake of John Carpenter's 1982 classic "The Thing", (complete with Kurt Russell in the midst of a blizzard searching for a hidden threat in disguise) as a post-civil war era western. He also throws in some very relevant subtext about race and quite a bit of suspense and I was very much along for the ride through most of this very long film.
However, at a point, it seemed to me that after building this great tense storyline, he just drove it off a cliff and kept going. And to me, it was still entertaining but I just felt a bit more detached from it all because of how plainly ridiculous it gets. As always, Tarantino loves gushing fountains and of blood and gore and you get more of that than you could ask for here. Sometimes the violence is brutal and real, other times it is campy and outlandish. Whether you enjoy it or not, it is very clear that he and the whole cast are having a hell of a time.
As in most (if not all) Tarantino films, the excessive violence and profanity will be too much for some. If you are sensitive about hearing a certain racial slur thrown around casually (possibly hundreds of times), then this is definitely not for you. But if you are a fan of Tarantino, or of cinema in general and aren't easily offended, this is an awfully fun ride. I really enjoyed it and think it's quite a film, it just didn't all come together for me in the end.
**As an entertaining side note: There is a scene in the film where Kurt Russell's character takes a guitar out of Domegue's hand and smashes it to bits. It turns out that unbeknownst to him, the guitar was a priceless 1870's Martin, on loan from the Martin Museum, which was supposed to have been replaced in a cutaway by a prop guitar. Obviously, Jennifer Jason Leigh was aware of this because there is a look of genuine horror on her face that goes even beyond her acting chops. Keep an eye out for this scene, her reaction alone is worth watching the movie for.