The Hateful Eight – Blu-Ray Review

| March 29, 2016

After watching The Hateful Eight twice now, once in the 70mm roadshow and another on home video, I feel confident enough to say that it’s not only my least favorite Quentin Tarantino film, but also one of the major cinematic disappointments of 2015. Set a few years after the American Civil War, the film follows Samuel L. Jackson as Major Marquis Warren, a former Union soldier, turned bounty hunter, as he’s on his way to collect some bounties in Red Rock, Wyoming. He’s picked up by John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell), who’s also on his way to Red Rock, in order to collect a bounty on a woman whom he’s handcuffed to, Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh). After getting stuck in a blizzard, they both decide to stay at Minnie’s Haberdashery, where they encounter some patrons, who’re not all they say to be. While the film contains a few merits, with stellar performances and some engaging subject matter and themes, The Hateful Eight just finds itself a bit too overwrought and self-serving in Tarantino’s latest addition to his filmography.

If there’s any consolation for this film, it’s seeing the work done by the cast, especially Jackson and Walton Goggins. Goggins, who plays Chris Mannix, impressed me with his television work on both The Shield and Justified, but it delights me that someone like Tarantino has utilized this film to showcase his exceptional skills as an actor. Kurt Russell’s just Kurt Russell, in that the man has never done a bad film and yes, I’ve seen Captain Ron to back up that claim. While there are other characters that don’t get enough screen time, actors Tim Roth, Demian Bechir, Bruce Dern and all of the other cast bring plenty of energy and presence, that even outshines that material that they were given.

As a longtime fan of Quentin’s, I was really looking forward to this film last December when it was released. After seeing it for a second time on home video, it’s easy to see why I didn’t care for The Hateful Eight. While it has been a part of his style since the very beginning of his career, Tarantino’s use of appropriating various films, TV shows and music hinders The Hateful Eight. His nod to the Red Apple cigarettes, the use of his own voice as narration and the gratuitous violence just comes off as him doing whatever he wants, as opposed to telling a grandiose tale in a Western setting. Style is one thing when I watch certain films from a filmmaker that I adore, but when it comes off as self indulgent, for no real reason or purpose, I just tune out.

The unfortunate thing that comes from this is that Tarantino uses two of the best characters, to speak on the racial issues that have plagued America, both past and present. With the characters of Mannix and Warren, we seem initially as enemies, due to their presumptions of one another, in regards to both racial and political allegiance. They are able to overcome both of these things, due to the conflict that they both must endure within Minnie’s Haberdashery and their relationship to one another brings an extremely hopeful message to the audience. I feel that this is an even stronger relationship then that of Django and Dr. Shultz in Django Unchained, because it is forged out of dramatic conflict. Even this beautiful relationship of characters, gets bogged down by the confines of the setting, drawn out plot mechanics of the “whodunit” and the brutality inflicted upon Daisy Domergue that gets absolutely tiresome.

On Blu-Ray side of things, The Hateful Eight delivers some incredible visual and audio presentation, but is sorely lacking on the extras department. The video is presented in an AVC encoded, 1080p transfer, with an aspect ratio of 2.75:1. Tarantino and his usual Director of Photography, Robert Richardson, spared no expense in creating the look for The Hateful Eight. Shot in Ultra Panavision, with lenses that hadn’t been used since 1966’s Khartoum, The Hateful Eight looked incredible for the Roadshow edition and looks just as great on this home video release. While a majority of the film takes place indoors, both the close ups and space that we do get to see in the frame, along with the breathtaking footage shot in exteriors are absolutely captivating. The audio on the disc comes in two forms, the English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix and a Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. The English mix uses a variety of techniques to employ the spatial relations, coinciding with the visuals, as well as some incredible sound design to make an engaging mix. My major issue with this release is lack of extra features, one of which was featured online before the theatrical release of the film. One feature, titled Beyond the Eight, is a short EPK style video, with interviews with most of the cast and their time spent on the set. The other is Sam Jackson’s Guide to 70mm, which came out months ago before the film. While this video is really great to add onto the disc, it would have been nice to have some new content to give people more context or insight into the making of The Hateful Eight.

While there are some great performances, brilliant costumes and some fantastic thematic content going on in Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, I find it very difficult to recommend The Hateful Eight, in that it is a long and drawn out mess of a film, that squanders the potential of what could have been just as strong as Django Unchained, if not better.

About the Author:

is a graduate from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Audio for Visual Media. He works as a freelance location sound mixer, boom operator, sound designer, and writer in his native Chicago. He's an avid collector of films, comics, and anime.
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