"The Hateful Eight"
Tarrantino's #8 is good, not great.
The eighth film directed by The King of Big Screen Blood, Mr. Quentin Tarantino, is appropriately titled. Like "Django Unchained" (his 2012 western for which he won an Original Screenplay Oscar), "The Hateful Eight" is about two hours and 45 minutes long, though this time Tarantino adds an intermission - as part of his homage to movies of yesteryear - and just because he can.
Once again Tarantino exhibits his very interesting storytelling style. There's a lot of set-up - somewhat expected when a film is nearly three hours. However the first act, which introduces us to the snowy Wyoming setting of the post-Civil War era and key players Major Marquis Warren (played by Samuel L. Jackson), bounty hunter John Ruth (Kurt Russell) and his prisoner, Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), drags like a horse-drawn plow in a muddy field. Thankfully, once they and a few others finally arrive by stagecoach at Minnie's Haberdashery to escape a coming blizzard, "The Hateful Eight" begins to pick-up steam. There we meet a handful of other interesting characters, each of whom may or may not be who they say they are.
While "The Hateful Eight" is lengthy, it's rarely dull. Tarantino has crafted a comedy/mystery and it's fun to play along. And there's enough of his signature quirky dialogue, handled expertly, as always, by Jackson with his classic deep voice, to keep us entertained. The who's who?/who done it? elements, which mainly take shape following the intermission (and Tarantino's own narration recap), work well. While, as for the performances, out of the entire, hit-and-miss ensemble, it's Jason Leigh, in the showiest and most memorable role, who gets top honor.
The biggest disappointment for Tarantino fans may be in the area of the bloodshed. Yes, there's buckets of blood on display, at times covering the floor and walls of the saloon, but there are really only one or two "shocking" moments. The majority of the violence is so staged (much of it taking place in a rare "four-fifths of the way through" flashback) that the surprise element is lost. Tarantino thrives on showcasing ultra-violence and the freedom to do whatever he wants on screen, whether it makes sense in the context of the movie or not. And there's much of that present in "The Hateful Eight", along with a weak ending which provides no pay-off.