The eighth instalment of Quentin Tarantino’s film legacy has arrived, and despite the director still cementing his place as one of the best in the biz, his latest film almost seems to take a step backwards.
On the surface, The Hateful Eight has everything we’ve come to expect from Tarantino; excessive violence, swearing, use of the “n word” and brutality against female characters.
Though some of the more potent Tarantino techniques, including non-linear storylines, references to pop culture and all-star casts, don’t seem to make an appearance at all.
Sure, the likes of Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell and Channing Tatum are all present, but it doesn’t quite have the same ring as Jaimie Foxx, Leonardo Di Caprio and Christoph Waltz.
Similarly, the story seems to flow in one simple direction, aside from a few short flashbacks, and when I say simple, I mean simple.
It perhaps is the first Tarantino film that doesn’t have an “epic” twist or showdown. In the end, at least for myself, the viewer is left rather underwhelmed by the events that transpire.
“He looks like a baddy, he ends up a baddy. He will save the day, he does save the day.”
It wasn’t Tarantino’s best storyline and it certainly didn’t keep the viewer guessing (as so many of his films have done in the past).
Using Samuel L. Jackson as the lead actor also proved problematic.
Considering Tarantino made the choice to back up his most commercially successful film, Django Unchained (a classic Western), with another Western, in a style that very much mirrored that of Django, it seems silly that he would cast Samuel L. Jackson in such an important role.
Jackson, who appeared as an old-man slave who hobbled about and cursed at every man and his dog during Django, appears as a highflying renegade bounty hunter in The Hateful Eight.
The stigma of Django proved too much as the opening twenty minutes had me thinking he was somehow the same character reborn.
There are, however, some areas that the film excels.
Musically, the soundtrack is a masterpiece. Ennio Morricone, who is now 87 and hasn’t written a western score in 35 years, creates a mood that Tarantino so desperately searches for in all his films.
At an interview of the New Zealand Premiere, Tarantino told Cinemaddicts that Morricone was hugely influential.
“He was very important. We had flirted with the idea of working together, and I thought, this one is the one!”
From epic swells to ear-piercing vibratos, the soundtrack is pure artistry and its no surprise that Morricone picked up a Golden Globe for his efforts.
Similarly, Tarantino’s innovation is without question. The way he manipulates a scene with different angles and effects cement him as one of the best directors in the business.
Kiwi fans also got a taste of fame as New Zealand’s very own Zoe Bell starred for the first time as an actress in The Hateful Eight.
Bell, who has worked as a stuntwoman in many of Tarantino’s films including Kill Bill and Inglorious Basterds, had her characters part written especially for her by Quentin himself; and it shows.
She is as kiwi as, with a thick accent, hailing from Auckland, New Zealand and having no shame about it.
It does, however, feel very out of place in a Tarantino Western.
Post-Civil War, perhaps around 1870, and there is a girl who has a thick kiwi accent (unlikely since we only signed the treaty thirty years earlier), hailing from “the biggest city in New Zealand”, Auckland, which was anything but a major city in 1870, made me think that Bell’s character was really just plopped into the film without any extra thought.
It blurred the line between cinema and reality, and in this case, for Tarantino, it didn’t pay off at all.
Still, you can’t deny that Tarantino knows exactly how to entertain.
The film is riffled with funny laughs and surprising gags. At times, you find yourself laughing at things you really shouldn’t be laughing at…
It is by far one of his most graphically violent films yet and being set in practically one location for three hours, it is definitely a piece of work which stands aside from his others.
Overall, the film provides a good night’s worth of entertainment, but don’t head in thinking you are going to watch one of Tarantino’s “best yet.”