Movie Reviews: The Hateful Eight

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The Hateful Eight by Quentin Tarantino

I was going to watch the film no matter what as a huge fan of Tarantino, especially in his earlier days. I didn’t see this movie in the theaters. I think it was playing around the same time The Force Awakens, and I saw that movie twice. The film finally came out on Blu-Ray and I watched it pretty much in the dark.

Yes, I said it.

The same secret script that was leaked and resulted in a lawsuit.I had no idea what was coming.

This was probably the most I heard about the production of a movie since The Phantom Menace. Besides a bunch of hateful people, I didn’t really know anything of the plot outside of Jennifer Jason Leigh being the the prisoner. I watched the movie and my first pass review is this is a 7/10 after watching it once. The movie is almost exclusive character acting, sometimes almost making the setup seem more like a play on stage rather than a movie.

Samuel L. Jackson as the “Bounty Hunter” is really good. I would say this is his best part since his character performance in Django. I think Quentin and him have a special relationship and they both know his best performances come when they work together. (The Negotiator was good too). It doesn’t top Pulp Fiction though.

Kurt Russell as “The Hangman” was mixed for me. He didn’t seem as rugged and angry as I know he can be. He brought hell with him in Tombstone, but didn’t quite do it here. I also found it unbelievable he let two people on the stagecoach, but that might be more to blame not he plot than anything else. Props on him for growing those chops.

Jennifer Jason Leigh as “The Prisoner” was the heart of the film. She had a lot of responsibility in playing off every actor and she does it well. The movie doesn’t work without her performance. She has blood on her face most of the film, sings and plays guitar, and then shifts her tone at the end. I think in 20 years, she will be remembered as “The Prisoner.”

Walton Goggins as “The Sherif” started out as weak for me. He seemed to be more a comedian, but when I came to think of it later, his part was more of a central mystery. The audience doesn’t know his motivations. At the end of the film, I think it ties all together and his part makes sense. These are flawed people who can change views on a whim. Everyone acts in their own self interest.

Demian Richie as “The Mexican” seemed to be an over-the-top caricature and stereotype for me. I thought there would be a twist of some point other than a plot point, but there wasn’t much there. To me, this is one of the weaker parts of the film. He plays it fine, but I would have liked to have seen more to him.

Tim Roth as “The Little Man” was the most enjoyable actor to watch for me. Part of me feels that the part could have been played by Christoph Waltz. Tim Roth has been in other Tarantino films, and doesn’t seem as over-the-top since 4 Rooms. I enjoyed it. He should do it more.

Michael Madsen as “The Cow Puncher” has limited range in the movie. He plays the same character we always see him as, so for me, there was little he added. Outside of being part of the Tarantino bull pen, I’m not sure if it added much to the story.

Bruce Dern as “The Confederate” brought absolutely zero to the film. The man sat in a chair and acted like a man who was acting … which he was. Hmm. Maybe it was genius and I just didn’t realize it on the first viewing. I would have found it more believable if he was the father of Jennifer Jason Leigh and that he wasn’t so helpless. It would have provided a twist to the story instead of the deus ex machina when you-know-who shows up. Maybe an earlier version of the script had this in.

Subsequent viewings might raise the rating for me, but to me, it felt more like a horror film than a western. I would have believed this more if this was his grindhouse film. The cinematography is nice two watch, and in typical Tarantino fashion, I appreciate he lets scenes breath and characters act. The experimentation with his voiceover was a different touch as well. He made a good choice with the Act-swap.

GUEST REVIEWER: BETSY THE BRIDE (A very serious girl at COMICON)

Don’t you go talking to my Quentin like that. I don’t care if they lock me up in San Quentin, I’m gonna get ya. Oh, I swear to god I’m gonna get ya good. I don’t care if the law man comes to your protection, I got me a slick team ready to inflict Betsy’s justice on you. Just when you think you’re safe going to your favorite watering hole, I’ll be there. I’ll be the one that looks all innocent and sweet and just as you get that false sense of security, WHAM! This movie was a masterpiece of cinematic kind, one with a fantastic bloody ending that gave me flashbacks to my own wedding. It will be remembered for eternity. Do you hear that Matt? For eternity. 

MOVIE RATING: 7/10 Dead Hateful People

NEXT: REVIEW OF KILL BILL, A TARANTINO MASTERPIECE

https://mmleonard.com/2016/03/21/movie-reviews-kill-bill-volume-1/

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