Written by Ryan DeMarco
Now that the world has seen Star Wars five times over, another highly anticipated project debuted over the holiday season. It’s called Point Break. Spoiler alert: it was amazing, and better than the original.
Okay, I’m totally joking. We here at Pop-Break.com have a code, and that means never putting down a classic surfer heist film or telling a lie to our readers. Moving forward. Still with me?
The film is obviously, The Hateful Eight. Of course the process from its initial inception to the big screen was a journey, when the script was leaked on the Internet, the films writer Quentin Tarantino, planned to simply shelve the project and translate it to a book series. As time went on, that changed, and after a successful live reading by the cast the ending was rewritten and the story eventually made its way in front of the cameras.
Quentin Tarantino presents us with his eighth feature film to date, ranging over 23 years. Time and time again, we are treated by a new film that has become more of an event. Each project, more ludicrous than the last, has left a lasting impression from the prolific figure. Tarantino continues to dare you not to be engrossed in what he presents. In doing so, he has pulled off the impossible: he’s made a three hour film, set in one single room, about eight strangers an utterly fantastic tale of beauty, deception, mystery, and chaos.
Tarantino can get away with anything. He knows it. And we love it.
Set just a few years after the Civil War, eight strangers made up of a bounty hunter (Samuel L. Jackson), a sheriff (Walton Goggins), a retired army colonel (Bruce Dern), along with other mysterious drifters find themselves caught in a terrible blizzard. They seek refuge along their way at Minnie’s Haberdashery. Among the present company, Daisie Domergue, a wanted fugitive (played wonderfully by Jennifer Jason Leigh). She’s held captive by John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell). It isn’t long after our characters are introduced that someone isn’t who they appear to be and plan to aid Domergue before she is brought to justice.
The look of this film is astounding. Shot with Ultra Panavision 70 millimeter format, the first to do so in nearly 60 years, the visuals of snowy mountain side of Wyoming are absolutely stunning. Given all of the grit and flat out hatred the characters represent in the film regarding race and humanity as a whole, Tarantino brings us his most beautifully stylish film to date that is delivered on grander scale that is weirdly intimate as well. An amazing part of the wide lens is watching Tarantino capture all of the actors in a single shot in the shelter, portraying such a small space in a colossal way. Like watching live actors on a stage, you are almost encouraged to keep an eye on what’s going on in the foreground, as well as the background.
The cast, featuring a slew of Tarantino’s past collaborators, are all top notch in their way. Stand out performances from Samuel L. Jackson who delivers some of the films best lines as well as the most standout scene that dares people to walk out of the theater, should earn him a nomination at the very least this awards season. Jennifer Jason Leigh as the wickedly cruel prisoner that provides some nice play between the other characters, and Walton Goggins as the woefully inept soon-to-be sworn in Sheriff gets some nice moments here. Kurt Russell as a hammy John Wayne type that brings great gusto to the cast. Other notable returns are Michael Madson as a slightly underused Joe Gage, and Tim Roth as the cheery, but out of place Oswaldo Mulbray.
The films first half contains a very dense dialogue soaked setting up the world where these characters dwell, setting up a nicely foundation only to purposely have it come crashing down in the last few acts in pure lunacy over the top violence. Tarantino makes this his most contained story since Reservoir Dogs. His writing, still sharp as ever, delivers line after line goodness that avid fans will eat up as well as those monologues that can still run circles around writers who can only dream of pulling off.
Although the picture fires on all cylinders, certain aspects feel a little uneven even during the midway point, going as far as saying some moments in the film feel as though Tarantino fell short in story. Whereas in his last work, Django felt more rewarding in the final act.
In his second western, Tarantino explores more of the racial tensions that simmers in the minds of those who occupy the small quarters of Minnie’s Haberdashery until it comes to a full on boil. This who-dunnit slowly plays all of the characters like a game of chess until the final reveal that pays off quite nicely. Tarantino remains at the top of his game, however with certain aspects it fails to raise above a few of his earlier works. With an amazing cast, score, writing, and cinematography, The Hateful Eight becomes a visual experience that can only be witnessed at a cinema.