2016 / Director. Quentin Tarantino.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
I don't know how, or exactly why, Quentin Tarantino films have become events. With each one comes an extensive promotional campaign and an equal measure of anticipation. As a teenager I was besotted with his work but as the years roll by my enthusiasm continues to wane. Don't get me wrong because I love his work and I revisit most of his titles regularly... however, the impact of a new Tarantino film just isn't what it used to be for me.
THE HATEFUL EIGHT is his latest and most ambitious film to date. Adhering to his reputation for retrocentricity (did I just make that word up?) he has lived up to his reputation for delivering cinematic throwbacks by not only delving into a classic genre but by also shooting the film in a stunning 70MM presentation. This fact alone does give legitimacy to it being an event film, and to see it projected so gloriously onto the big screen was something special to behold. Those who make the effort to attend one of the “roadshow screenings” of this 70MM version will be treated to a wonderful overture and a welcome intermission, as well as additional footage shot exclusively for this version.
Of course the elation of seeing this film presented in 70MM was maintained throughout its entire three-hour duration and I would encourage all to make the time to see it. It is also worth the price of admission for its amazing production design and the stunningly insatiable score by the legendary Ennio Morricone. THE HATEFUL EIGHT is, without a doubt, a feast for the senses. But is it any good? As far as I'm concerned... not really.
Three-hours is a lot to ask of an audience when the bulk of the film adheres to a single set-piece formula and relies on dialogue to carry the narrative. Tarantino's obsession with format has been detrimental to his overall story and he has delivered little more than a western retelling of RESERVOIR DOGS. While the characters are great and the performances are exceptional, the dialogue is bloated and full of pretension. This is Tarantino's ego on a platter and THE HATEFUL EIGHT is a long-winded exercise in self-indulgence.
There is no stand-out performance here, with every player in this impressive ensemble as strong as each other. They all teeter on the edge of being caricatures thanks to Tarantino's strained dialogue, however they successfully keep the necessary weight and believability to keep it from becoming too ham-fisted.
What a shame. A MUCH shorter running time could have made all the difference. In fact if it were closer to one-hundred minutes then he could have had a masterpiece on his hands. Unfortunately as it stands THE HATEFUL EIGHT is probably my least favourite Tarantino film and I can't imagine myself revisiting it any time soon.