Tarantino has a certain style that very few people are able to replicate. His ability to show two people having a conversation, with no relevance to the plot, and it being highly entertaining, is second to none. All of his films are held in high regard, mainly by myself, for the way in which they capture the attention of the audience with the witty dialogue and wonderfully shot scenes, which keep even his longer films moving forwards quickly. The audience has to keep watching, so as not to miss a vital detail in the dialogue which could hold a clue as to how the film will end. It never feels forced, nothing is drawn-out, each scene is shot perfectly, to include as much information as possible, without dragging on for too long. The success of films such as Django Unchained owe much to this, a film which was an oasis of originality in the outstretched desert of mediocre franchises, with humour, drama, and a lot of action. It left audiences, and definitely myself, craving more films with this level of all round perfection. It is unfortunate therefore, that The Hateful Eight could not satisfy these cravings.
Yes, I did enjoy parts of the film there is no denying that. Some aspects were superb, and still show the quality that Tarantino brings to a movie. The acting was spot on, the action (although in miniscule amounts), was nicely shot, and the tension was brought to the boil nicely to make for an entertaining film. But despite this, it had one flaw which no one could ignore, not even a huge Tarantino fan such as myself. It was too long. Now I don’t mean in terms of run time. Any film can have a long run time and still be exceptional. Inglorious Basterds is a similar sort of time and is gripping from the first scene to the last. The Lord of the Rings trilogy has the foundations of a huge run time, and simply fills it with a magnificent story. Not that I want to compare The Hateful Eight to anything else, but it’s always difficult not to, not when the director has a such a reputation for holding someone’s attention for 2 and a half hours without letting go. But some of the scenes in this film were so unnecessarily drawn-out, that it made it difficult to watch.
There were long, sweeping, landscapes shots which were beautiful to look at, but almost gave the movie a documentary feel. As lovely as the shots were, we came for the nitty gritty detailed dialogue. The hard hitting drama of 8 men trapped in a cabin with only each other to insult. But instead, the first two chapters were slow, repetitive, and just didn’t have enough about them to make them of interest. Now, this kind of film has a very specific point. It involves a build-up, in which the character’s identities and backgrounds are revealed, clues are released, and this gives the audience time to digest each individual. This then allows the audience to predict the outcome of the film, as the story begins to unravel about halfway through, similar to Reservoir Dogs. But, in these sorts of films, the first half of build-up is still entertaining. There is enough about the characters given away that we care when something happens to them, but it doesn’t become obvious who the main antagonist/protagonist is. This makes both halves of this kind of film very interesting. But in The Hateful Eight, this doesn’t happen, as the camera moves between characters and they introduce individuals. The dialogue isn’t quick or punchy and the characters themselves aren’t interesting enough to make it worthwhile.
This continues, with low level tension and more unnecessarily long shots of doors opening and horses running. Then the drama really ramps up, about halfway through, and the film becomes a very interesting affair. Lies, traps, mystery, all very entertaining, and then the action arrives and it all kicks off. But for some reason, this is cut short. The action sequences are short and punchy, as they should be. But that should not be the case when the rest of the film is long and convoluted. A short port in a long storm does not make an entertaining film.
Thinking back on the film, it is a good film. However, had it been directed by someone other than Tarantino, I don’t think I’d have enjoyed it as much as I did, which wasn’t much in the first place. It was definitely his style, but it lacked some of the flair, and character, that were present in his other movies. Some have rumoured that this will be his last film, and I certainly hope not, because a director of his quality should finish with a bang much bigger than this.