The Captain reviews The Hateful Eight:
My first review of 2016! And it happens to be for a film I loved. Jeez, it has been so long since I’ve even reviewed a film I’ve enjoyed… I’m not sure how to do this now. But to be fair, I never knew how to do this to begin with.
It should be pretty clear just by my username that I am a giant Tarantino fan. Captain Peachfuzz and the Anchovy Bandit was the first script Tarantino ever wrote. When he was like 14.
Quentin Tarantino is my favorite director and my favorite writer. And favorite dancer? Okay, maybe not that last one, but I dare any one to show off these amazing dance moves with no care in the world. I dare you!
This is also the part where I insert Hank’s funny wedding dance video. I know it exists!
Some might know that I put The Hateful Eight as #2 on my list of best films for 2015. Only being slightly beaten out by Fury Road. Because it is Fury Road. The fact it didn’t win best picture for the Golden Globes still has me a little peeved. The reason The Hateful Eight wasn’t even nominated is because QT didn’t want to hand out a screener.
Also kind of upset Aaron Sorkin won for Steve Jobs. Really? He had a bunch of fast talking blank page characters. That is one thing QT does better than anyone else. Sure, he can give you great dialogue, but his real mastery comes from his ability to give you great characters. Even if they are murdering psychopaths. Can you really say you cared at all about Steve Jobs? Or really any of the characters in that movie? Whatever, moving on. I’m saying Steve Jobs sucked. As a person and as a film. This time really moving on.
How does The Hateful Eight stack up next QT’s other films? I can say I liked it better than Inglorious Basterds. Which is a film I can say is masterful in its own way, but my issue is I was promised a film about a band of Jewish US soldiers killing Nazis. What I got instead was mostly a story about a French couple who own a movie theater.
I also think Inglorious Basterds is a good example seeing as the bar scene in that film is The Hateful Eight. But instead of 20 minutes, it is 3 hours.
When QT was going on talk shows to promote Kill Bill, he mentioned really wanting to do a James Bond film, but in a different style, one that took place on a train, no gadgets or expensive SFX. Of course nothing really came of it, kind of like how nothing ever came out of the Vega Brother’s film idea he had. Which would have been amazing! Animated of course, seeing as John Travolta looks like a botched face transplant victim. He watched Face/off and thought, what if….
But, did a sliver of that low budge Bond film idea sneak into The Hateful Eight? I think maybe it did. I guess by most film standards these days it was low budget. It did go like 20 million over budget because filming in the snow is a pain in the ass. But still, 40 million dollar budget for most films these days is nothing. That’s another thing QT has over on the exploitation films and filmmakers of the heydays he so idolizes. He is able to get whatever money he needs to make anything he wants. Even if what he wants to make is still schlock.
I have the strong belief that Tarantino is a genius. I don’t just mean I think his films are brilliant, that ghetto. I mean I think the guy has a monster IQ and he uses it to make films. The guy dropped out of high school for fuck sake.
Another thing that really puts him a cut above the rest is the fact he learns from his mistakes. He actually grows with each film he does. The Hateful Eight being no different, maybe being the most beautifully shot film he has ever done. It is also his most violent and his most hilarious. I can say hands down, unequivocally this is the funniest film of 2015. I dare you to name a comedy that rivals it. Of course I have yet to see Daddy’s Home, so you never know. This should have been on the best comedy list for the Golden Globes. If The Martian can get nominated and win for best comedy, surely The Hateful Eight can too.
That isn’t to say this is a perfect film. It isn’t. In fact, the plot doesn’t really hold up if you think about it too hard. QT’s influences have always been 70’s grindhouse and exploitation films. And really that is what he has always made. Schlock. Just elevated schlock. If you aren’t a fan of these films, you most likely won’t get QT. He also uses a lot of his influences in his work, which some consider stealing.
Reservoir Dogs is City on Fire, Kill Bill is The Blood Spattered Bride, Inglorious Basterds is Hitler – Dead or Alive, and I guess The Hateful Eight is Cut-Throats Nine. If you have influences, you’re going to see them pop up in the work. Take the Wachowskis. The Matrix was great and nothing you’ve ever seen before. Unless you’ve seen Ghost in the Shell and Akira.
But back to my point about his influences being shlock. The thing about those films is they are in their core, inherently flawed. They’re either too exploitative or overtly violent. Tarantino latches on to both. But he does it in a way… it’s like everyone of that genre is selling you a cheap Burger King hamburger. It’s fine, it fills you up, it wasn’t the best burger you ever had, but it wasn’t trying to be. QT takes that cheap Burger King hamburger and adds Kobe beef, shaved truffles… and as I’m making this comparison I see there is a Burger King in London that actually sells a $200 burger. Okay, whatever, you get my point. In the end, it is still just a burger. So QT’s films, as masterfully and brilliantly written as they are, are still just violent films that end with a Mexican standoff. You either love that about him or you don’t.
And to bring this back around to The Hateful Eight, nothing has more of an influence over QT than the spaghetti western, even stating The Good The Bad and The Ugly as his favorite film. And if Tarantino wanted to just make westerns for the rest of his career, he’d go down as the best western film director ever. Ever!
Like many, I read the script when it was leaked. It took all day but I managed to do it. I always try to hold off until I’ve seen the film, but each time a new script of his gets leaked, I end up reading the damn thing. So going into this kind of a murder mystery, I already knew who done it. They all did!
And that is a little disappointing and also maybe the film’s biggest flaw. But more on that later.
First the plot.
Kurt Russell plays John Ruth AKA The Hangman. Because if he catches you, you hang. He is a giant stache wearing sonofabitch bounty hunter who isn’t really the brightest lamp in the shed, but he has a code. He will see them hang. No matter how high the risk.
And that is what leads to his downfall. He has himself a fancy little bounty chained to his side by the name of Daisy Domergue, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh. Her price is 10 thousand. I’m guessing back then that might as well be a million bucks. So of course John Ruth is a bit paranoid when it comes to running into strangers.
The first stranger comes in the form of Samuel L. Jackson. He too is a bounty hunter and boy does he love killing him some white folks.
There’s a blizzard headed their way, and Samuel L. Jackson’s character has three or more dead bounties and no horse. Taking petty on him, Ruth lets him ride along. One of the funniest moments in the film for me is when Samuel L. Jackson shows off his letter from Lincoln. Only to have Daisy Domergue spit blood on it.
The second stranger they pick up is Boyd Crowder… I mean Walton Goggins. And really, next to Samuel L. Jackson, he is the main character. He is also a racist sonofabitch. He’s also the new sheriff in the town they are all headed to.
Of course with this blizzard, they have to stop off at Minnie’s Haberdashery to wait out the storm.
Now we are introduced to Bob, the Mexican, The hangman, and some pretty boy cowboy played by… um Michael Madsen. Maybe I should rethink the pretty boy thing.
There’s also Bruce Dern playing an old confederate general. Who Samuel L. Jackson’s character takes an instant dislike to and Goggins’s character who forms a kind of comradery with.
Right away you’re left wondering who isn’t who they say they are. The Obvious choice is Bob. Minnie is nowhere to be found, and left Bob here in charge? A guy no one knows? So Bob is our guy.
But what about everyone else? Either way, John Ruth isn’t going to risk it, taking everyone’s guns and having them tossed down into the crapper.
Now here is the part in the script I just knew QT would eventually change, it was too over the top and extreme, no way is he going to include this… And that is the scene Samuel L. Jackson’s character tells Bruce Dern’s character the story of how he forced his son to blow him in the snow, then killed him.
I thought, that’s a bit much, even for QT. No way would he include… He did. Just about everything you read in that first draft that was leaked he filmed. There are a few changes here and there, mostly with the ending, but for the most part the first draft went unchanged.
Another thing I got a kick out of was QT doing the narration. I wondered how he would insert himself in this. That and his foot fetish. Seeing as there is only one female really in the film. But I doubt I’d want to see Daisy Domergue’s toes, if they looked anything like her beaten face that is.
The murder mystery comes in about two hours when someone poisons the coffee. Obviously the main suspect being Bob. Only for the reason he is claiming to work for Minnie. This doesn’t sit right, seeing as she has such a strong distaste for Mexicans. The end result is Bob getting his head blown off.
After John Ruth dies of poisoning, Samuel L. Jackson’s character has no one to trust but Goggins. He might be a racist asshole, but he was a racist asshole about to drink the poisoned coffee. By the way, drinking this cocktail induces bloody projectile vomiting. By the end of this film it looks like the cabin from Evil Dead.
For some reason Goggins has it out for Michael Madsen’s character Joe Gage. I’m not sure why. He just singles him out. He’s right to, but still. In a flashback we learn what happened. Daisy Domergue’s gang arrived early, killed every but Bruce Dern and waited.
Now a few things, why wait? Why not shoot John Ruth the second he walked through the door with Daisy? They were the first to enter. Samuel L. Jackson’s character was in the stable, tying up the horses with Bob. Another chance missed there as well.
Maybe they were afraid of hitting Daisy if they tried anything too rash. It just seemed like the only reason they didn’t try anything right away was because there wouldn’t be a movie if they had. Everything just seemed kind of pointless. Like for instance Tim Roth’s character as the hangman. Pretty good character, he is the actual hangman there to hang Daisy, or so we think. Finding out he was just a part of her gang kind of felt… What’s the word… cheap?
So at this point Bruce Dern has been gunned out, John Ruth has vomited up his insides and Bob has his head exploded. Now it is just down to Tim Roth and Michael Madsen. Or is it! Surprise, Channing Tatum was hiding in the cellar beneath the floorboards. No one expects The Tatum!
Especially since he blows off Samuel L. Jackson’s balls. Don’t worry, he gets the last word when he blows the back of Tatum’s head off, spraying Daisy with her brother’s blood and brains.
Tim Roth gets a shot to the gut, how fitting (reservoir dogs). Michael Madsen too gets a bullet sandwich just leaving Daisy. Who is hung by our two remaining characters, an act they managed to pull off before dying. How? I have no idea.
And that is the end. They just wait to die. Two racists who hate each other’s race.
Is this QT’s best writing? No, but it felt like a throwback to his roots. His one location, low budget roots. At least now he doesn’t have to spend his whole soundtrack budget on one song like he did for Reservoir Dogs.
This also gave me my favorite line ever. DON’T MAKE ME HORSE LAUGH! When it comes time for Hank to name this review, I’m hoping that is what he names it.
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