Blockbluster: The Hateful Eight (70mm Roadshow Version)
Quick Summary: Quentin Tarantino’s latest work, featuring his hallmarks of violence, strong dialog, and a character-driven plot, centers around a pair of bounty hunters waylaid by a Wyoming blizzard.
Genre: Western / Drama / Mystery
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demián Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, James Parks, Channing Tatum.
Length: 187 min.
Release Date: 2015-12-07 (USA Premiere), 2015-12-25 (USA & Canada 70mm Version Roadshow Limited Release), 2015-12-30 (USA Wide Release), 2016-01-08 (UK)
More Info: IMDb, 70mm film, Roadshow Theatrical Release
Author's Note: The Hateful Eight was shot in a special 70mm format, and then received a limited special release. For more info on 70mm film in general, look above. For more info on what 70mm means for this film, click here (some spoilers on the rest of that page). There are some minor differences between the two versions, and this review pertains to the 70mm version of the film.
The Hateful Eight - Official Trailer (Spoilers)
The Hateful Eight was one of my most anticipated films in recent memory (more than the so-so The Force Awakens even). When I found out it was playing in a special 70mm format, I was intrigued, because frankly, I wasn’t sure what the difference was. Thing is, older films used to be shot in 35mm, and current digital technology aims to replicate 35mm film. This means that a 70mm film is actually of superior quality to a standard digital film. In short, it created a crisper, wider, and higher quality image (for more information about 70mm film, check out the links in the intro).
Even though the 70mm version of Eight also differs slightly from the standard release, most of the differences are pretty minimal, like different shots of the same scene, some of which are single-take in the 70mm. Additionally, a few scenes have been shortened. The differences in the film mostly come down to certain shots used in the wider version not translating well to a standard aspect ratio, although there are also a few other differences in the presentation that add to the film (though are in no way are necessary to get the full film experience).
The first difference is that when the film begins, the 70mm version has a short musical overture that plays. It’s a nice little piece of music, and helps get the film rolling. It should also be noted that this is the first film that Quentin Tarantino has had an original score for, and it reunites him with Ennio Morricone, who previously said that he'd probably not ever work with Tarantino again. You may not recognize that name, but you’ve almost certainly heard his music before, having done over 500 scores for TV and movies (perhaps most famously, the score for The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly).
Once the movie does get rolling, we’re introduced to a couple of bounty hunters and we’re graced with Sam Muthafuckin’ Jackson and Kurt Russell, both turning in expectedly strong performances. The film doesn’t feature many characters, but it makes good use of what it has, with the main cast of actors all delivering quite well. Jennifer Jason Leigh delivers well playing a character that I hated for her mannerisms, but still I was quite fond of her acting job. I could go on about the acting from the rest of the cast, but there’s not much point in repeating for each one that they “did a great job.”
The movie is off to a slow start, and it takes its sweet-ass time to get going, but it’s worth it in the end (even if it probably should’ve been shorter). Like many Tarantino movies, it’s very dialog-heavy, and even though it’s not as strong as much of his past work, it’s still well-done, and should satisfy fans of his previous films.
About two hours into the film, it broke for an intermission. This is exclusive to the 70mm version, and I was glad to have it. With a runtime of over 3 hours, I much appreciated the chance to run to the bathroom, and I wish more films these days had an intermission, at least the longer ones. The intermission didn’t interrupt the action at all, falling at the end of all the buildup for the first scene, and coming right after a climactic moment. Once the film resumes, it changes pace somewhat, with a much greater emphasis on the mystery element, which played a much smaller part in the first chunk of the movie.
A family dinner, no wonder they all hate each other.
The final act of the film is the most intense, as it turns into a violent version of Clue. At times, it even feels a bit like John Carpenter’s 1982 The Thing (one of my favorite films), which interestingly also featured Kurt Russell in a leading role and music from Morricone. The violence in the movie isn’t too frequent, save for the ending, but it’s wonderfully violent and bloody when it occurs. Similarly, the humour is present only in small doses, usually in the form of black comedy, which managed to get some healthy laughs from me.
So The Hateful Eight isn’t the greatest film from Tarantino (one of his weaker ones frankly, but he’s also delivered some very good movies, so that doesn’t say a whole lot), though it is one of the stronger films from 2015 (or a good start to 2016 if you want to look at it that way). And though Tarantino’s hallmarks aren’t at their highpoint here, they’re still good, and should be enough for fans. It’s a film that’s worth its length, and if you get a chance to see it in 70mm (though I think that’s done with now, as it was very limited to begin with), I’d recommend going with that, despite the price increase. Regardless of how you see it, make sure you do.
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