4 reasons The Hateful 8 is worth seeing
and 4 it’s not
Out the gate; this isn’t Tarantino’s best film, nor is it his worst (like some people have been calling it), but like most things there are two sides to it. So here are those two sides, four reasons you should give up your hard earned cash to go see this lil’ epic, and four reasons to wait and see it by other means.
- Tim Roth & Walton Goggins: The film is of course an ensemble piece with a stellar cast who are (mostly) outstanding; from Kurt Russel’s and Samuel L Jackson’s badass bounty hunters (Jackson is particularly on form), to Jennifer Jason Leigh’s now Oscar nominated turn as the creepily vulgar and frequently hilarious fugitive, Daisy Domergue.
But it’s Tarantino veteran Tim Roth and Justified’s anti-hero Walton Goggins (seriously if you haven’t seen Justified DO!) who steal the show, the scenery and nearly the whole damn picture. Mr Roth is on rip-roaring scene chewing form as the extremely Twee British Hangman Oswaldo Mobray, who’s every smug verbal extremity and every sly glance and gesture leaves you in stitches, whether he’s debating the ethics of justice with the brash Kurt Russel, or stopping everyone from shooting each other. Walton Goggins on the other hand is just having a blast as the fun loving, dorky, hill-billy-esque former confederate, who is so country and western he says things like, “I’ll be double dog dammed”, and you can’t help but smile at his every slapstick manoeuvre. He and Roth are like the two sides to the same chocolate and cheese coin. Goggin’s character also has the best (and I think only) arc in the film.
- The cinematography/ the setting: Shot in glorious 70mm (which I didn’t see it in), there is just something awesome about a Western in the snow, and the landscape is captured beautifully to the point where the opening few shots could be confused with The Revenant. And then after the loooooong opening act (we’ll get to that in the next section), when we get to the much advertised cabin setting, it managed to keep that prestige in what really should of been a claustrophobic mess.
But the cabin is large and surprisingly complex, with each corner, from the bar to the fireplace, becoming their own country and safe ground for the characters. What I’m saying I guess is for a film predominantly set in one room, it still feels large and epic.
- The music: Of course with a score from the Godfather of Western composers Ennio Morricone, how could this not be one of the reasons? But beyond the classic western theme that’s winning all the awards, far less appreciation is being said for the other uses of music and score; with awesome music from The Exorcist 2 and unused tracks from The Thing being part of the soundtrack, and it fits perfectly. As well as a violin quintet that perfectly shapes the mystery vibe the film strives for in its second act. One thing Tarantino hasn’t lost is his impeccable ear for soundtrack.
- The Ending: I won’t ruin it for the few people who haven’t seen it, but I will still talk about it. It’s bloody, it’s fun, its ambiguous, yet somehow also satisfying enough, as those you want to see get it do (for the most part) and those you want to see make good also do (for the most part), without resorting to anything overly happy….Though the more I think about it the more it seems like a re-tread of Reservoir Dogs. Still for a film that gets so messy in every way, it has strong closing minutes.
The bad (and the ugly…sorry)
- The twist: So again I won’t ruin it for those who haven’t seen it and for some reason
may be debating whether to from this list, but I’ll say this: you can ignore it all you want and enjoy a lot of other aspects about it, but the twist breaks the film and makes the three hours you spend watching kind of pointless. As by the twists logic the film could have been finished within Kurt Russel storming into the cabin, and the more you marinade over it, the less it, and so many other situations, make sense. If you can put that aside (which I can do to a point) the film still works, but you shouldn’t have to ignore the plot to enjoy a film.
- The length: This is Tarantino at his most Tarantino and self-indulgent. I understand the idea. He wants to make it a classic epic Western, but that isn’t an excuse for 40 minutes of set-up before ‘the plot’ sets in, nor another half hour of flashbacks just to explain the overwrought twist, orjust the endless monologues and detours, with only about half lending anything to the situation or are really entertaining.
Now I know what some of you are thinking, we need all that time to introduce all the characters and flesh them out…and that leads directly into the next point…
- Joe Gage and a third of the cast: A third the cast are just kind of dull, underdeveloped and uninteresting. I wouldn’t be shocked if Tarantino had the title first, but then gave up halfway trying to fill it with 8 interesting characters. Bruce Dern’s old racist confederate general is probably the most interesting uninteresting character, but he’s really just there to flesh-out Goggin’s and Jackson’s characters. Michael Madsen is….there; he showed up, he spoke. And Demián Bichir’s character’s biggest trait is that he’s Mexican…oh and he played piano in that one scene. For a film this long and boasting an apparently hateful 8 (even though theres like ten of them really), its inexcusable that almost half the cast are uninteresting underdeveloped characters, there just to pad out the length like tissue in a bra.
- What it could have been: A lot of people have been comparing this to Clue or calling it a form of whodunit and it is…for a minute…when it feels like it.But it gets so bogged down with detours, homage, pointless scenes, sucking it’s own dick, and having a bullshit twist it never really gets there. And it could have been great if it did! A Tarantino whodunit, that just sounds amazing. With the same set of
characters (well maybe a few less), and the same set-up and location, all that needed to happen was someone dies, and then the film is them trying to work out who did it, as the tension and egos run high. Instead it kind of does that in the second middle, but then makes that whole section pointless with the reveal of who did it, how, and why. Rule number one of twists: if it isn’t more interesting than what you have already established then don’t do it.
Through writing these eight reasons, for all the things I like about it that make it worth a see, the more I’m discovering how big the problems are and how they weigh down what could of (should of) been a classic Tarantino, if Tarantino hadn’t gotten in the way.