DIRECTOR: Quentin Tarantinohateful_eight_ver10

CAST: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demián Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, James Parks, Channing Tatum, Dana Gourrier, Zoë Bell, Leigh Horsley, Gene Jones, Keith Jefferson, Craig Stark, Belinda Owino

RUNNING TIME: 167 mins/187 mins (UltraPanavision 70mm version)

CERTIFICATE: 18

BASICALLY…: Eight strangers, among them bounty hunters and prisoners and lawmen, are forced to seek refuge in a remote cabin during a snowstorm – and as tensions rise, so does the body count…

NOW FOR THE REVIEW…

To answer your burning question first: yes, we DID watch Quentin Tarantino’s eighth film in the much-advertised UltraPanavision 70mm print (an exclusive arrangement at London’s Odeon Leicester Square, the only place in the entire country to show it in this format). The experience itself is quite extraordinary; undoubtedly reminiscent of the old days when the likes of Ben-Hur and Lawrence of Arabia among others were shot this way and treated like major events upon release, even featuring a Broadway-style overture and 12-minute intermission during the whole thing, the panoramic projection encompasses a variety of atmosphere and stunning imagery, and allows for the film to engulf us with just the most fascinating of small touches, either in the background or the foreground. Its booming bass – then again, that may just be the venue – and grand, theatrical presence makes this a movie-going experience that definitely feels like old-times, and one that audiences today probably don’t realise they’re missing.

So yes, the UltraPanavision 70mm experience is absolutely worth checking out, if you have a bit of coin to spare to go towards travel to London etc; otherwise, you’d probably be more comfortable going to see it in your non-Cineworld multiplex, where the experience is guaranteed to not pack quite as big a punch as it would do in the format the filmmaker intended.

As for the movie itself, it is pure Tarantino all the way through, though sometimes to a fault. In what is basically a remix of Reservoir Dogs but in a post-Civil War Wyoming environment, eight strangers are forced to stay together in a shop-cum-bar named Minnie’s Haberdashery, waiting out an all-encompassing blizzard to die out. Among them are untrustworthy and, yes, hateful figures like bounty hunters Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) and John Ruth (Kurt Russell) – the latter carrying with him a beaten and bruised prisoner by the name of Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) – a man named Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins) who claims to be the new Sheriff of the nearby town of Red Rock, flamboyant English hangman Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), Mexican lodger Bob (Demián Bichir), quiet cow-puncher Joe Gage (Michael Madsen) and aging Confederate General Sanford Smithers (Bruce Dern). Needless to say, they don’t end up getting along.

The odd thing about this movie, as opposed to Tarantino’s previous filmography, is that this is perhaps the most theatrical of his films since Reservoir Dogs – and we don’t necessarily mean that in a good way. Ironically, for a filmmaker whose passion and love for film is unmistakable, he’s crafted something that would probably be far better suited for the stage rather than the camera lens – the long reams of dialogue and monologues, the mostly-singular location, a lot of it does feel like, for the first time in his career, Tarantino has actually written a play and somehow mistaken it for a screenplay. That’s not entirely a bad thing, since his playing around with dialogue and characters is as fun as ever, but it’s also rather strange to see something clearly meant for the National Theatre make its way to cinema screens all over the country first, especially by someone who has gone on record several times to declare how much of an impact film and the visual medium in general has had on his way of thinking. Our feeling is that when Tarantino first performed the script for The Hateful Eight during a live-read after all that ruckus over it leaking somehow (remember that? It was everywhere for a good while), and when it went over as well as it did, he may have gotten the wrong impression that it was meant for film after all, instead of realising perhaps its true calling was right in front of him: playing to a live audience in a theatre capacity.

Further reiterating our belief that this was probably more meant for the stage than film, is that the film is way too damn long for its own good. Tarantino has made films before that were way over 2 hours, but films like Pulp Fiction, Inglourious Basterds, and especially Django Unchained (to date, our personal favourite film of his) kept the momentum going from the word go, never letting up and always keeping our utmost attention. Here, it moves at such a slow pace – it takes roughly half an hour and two “chapters” to finally reach Minnie’s Haberdashery, something that could have been done in at least half the time – that the length feels so much longer, and you’ll be getting not just bored but also a little bit of saddle-sore by the time the intermission starts (don’t worry, the second half is much more engaging). Again, this would be fine if it were for the stage and that kind of length would be more than acceptable; but because this is film, it feels way more indulgent than it should be.

That’s not to say that the film is a complete dud; on the contrary, it is a decent flick that contains many of the Tarantino trademarks we’ve come to expect and love – the gratuitous violence, the playful dialogue and characterisations, “chapters” that separate parts of the story, not necessarily in chronological order – the acting is top-notch all around, with Leigh as a cackling highlight, and it’s great to hear an original score by the Western maestro Ennio Morricone again. But the overbearing theatricality of it and the far-too-long running time both prevent The Hateful Eight from being a new classic Tarantino flick – it’s still a worthwhile film, especially in UltraPanavision 70mm, but not quite the masterpiece it could have been.

SO, TO SUM UP…

The Hateful Eight contains many of the elements we know and love from a Quentin Tarantino movie, but it can’t help but feel more destined for the stage than film, something its overlong running time reinforces. The UltraPanavision 70mm experience comes highly recommended, though…