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Review: The Hateful Eight

Samuel L. Jackson stars in The Weinstein Company's "The Hateful Eight"

A western set in a snowy environment with eight murderous types of personalities could make for an interesting story. There’s bound to be violence and mayhem all over, but there has to be something else included to give it all the value it deserves. Unfortunately, this is where The Hateful Eight fails first. Sure, there’s violence and stuff, but there’s not as much as you might think since Quentin Tarantino felt excessive dialog was more important than everything else.

Around a decade or so after the end of the Civil War, Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson), John Ruth (Kurt Russell) and a handful of others make up a hateful group of eight who find themselves in the middle of the cold and snow filled Wyoming landscape on the lookout for warmth and trouble. These dangerous natural elements have forced each of these people to seek shelter at the nearest refuge while on their way to Red Rock, but there’s not much need for force when it comes to getting them to use the man made weapons that they’ve brought along with them.

With The Hateful Eight, there are significant loads of snow, a lot of chattering, an excessive and gratuitous amount of N-words and even more wasted time. Especially in the early going, a large chunk of time is spent talking and delivering forgettable bits of dialog that never means much to me. After a while, this gets dull and outright tedious as the movie stretches what should maybe be a twenty minute sequence at the longest to something long enough to be its own separate entity.

Predicated on that alone, saying that The Hateful Eight is artificially long would be an understatement. But when you add the unnecessary pause at the start that’s included for no reason, you’re talking about something that seems to be finding ways to misuse your time simply for the sake of doing so. There’s also that meaningless ten to twelve minute intermission that’s assisting in pushing the movie over the three hour mark. If you take those two parts away from The Hateful Eight, we’re talking about a movie that’s still long, but is slightly easier to sit through since I would know I’d ultimately be leaving earlier.

I don’t know if these features being included are supposed to be cool or not, but they only served as a way to test my patience while finding ways to aggravate me. Films of legitimate quality never need gimmicks that ultimately amount to nothing. There should always be some kind of substance involved that gives viewers a reason to sit through what’s being put on display for them. If that’s not happening, there’s no need for it to be included.

Outside of the length, another aspect of The Hateful Eight that some will need to pay attention to is what’s featured in the picture itself. If you’ve seen any of Quentin Tarantino’s previous flicks, you’ll notice that he essentially does the same stuff over and over again. Some people obviously like what he’s putting out, so that isn’t necessarily a bad thing for those of you who are interested. For people such as myself, there’s not much to find appealing here, but that may not be important for those who pretty much know they’ll already like it before even seeing it.

Out of all the familiarity to be found in The Hateful Eight, I will give Tarantino some kind of credit for making a movie that’s a bit more serious than what we’re used to. Even though this can’t be described as a mature piece of cinema, it’s less of a cartoon than most of the previous work of his that I’ve seen. It kind of makes me wish that he actually tried to make more actual films rather than sticking to whatever it is that he’s trying to do.

The acting from the likes of Samuel L. Jackson and Kurt Russell is the only good thing that I can think of about The Hateful Eight. Jackson does his usual spiel, but it’s still entertaining after all this time. Russell is also fun and deserves some credit for providing something worthwhile. If these two specifically were given better material to work with, I would love to see them playing the same characters in a different movie together. Thinking about that certainly opens me up to revisiting something similar.

If it had skillful filmmakers writing and directing it, The Hateful Eight could have been quite the slick flick. The idea itself is an intriguing one, but it needs someone with more ability handling it and putting it all together. Something like this would rely on skill and technique since it’s such a tricky premise. If the right person/people had their hands on it, they could have approached this from a position that would allow them to make something that’s smart and has some sort of cinematic value.

Regardless of how I feel about him or his movies, it’s obviously good to be Quentin Tarantino when it comes to cinema. He’s one of the few guys out there who can make something like this and get away with it. The Hateful Eight is no where close to being great in any way, but he has a built in audience that will surely love and appreciate it for whatever it is. As for me, The Hateful Eight is simply a waste of time that squanders two entertaining performances by a pair of veteran actors.

Rating: R

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Samuel L. Jackson
Kurt Russell
Jennifer Jason Leigh
Walton Goggins
Tim Roth
Demian Bichir
Michael Madsen
Bruce Dern
Channing Tatum
James Parks

Film Length: 187 minutes

Release Date: December 25, 2015 (Limited)

Distributor: The Weinstein Company

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