"You only need to hang mean bastards, but mean bastards you need to hang."
If you're unclear about my cinematic tastes, I'll preface this review with sharing how much I love Quentin Tarantino's work. Pulp Fiction is my favorite movie of all time (which I doubt will ever be unseated). Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained are easily in my top 10, and the rest (save Death Proof) are not far behind. I go into every movie with an open mind, but I was very excited about seeing The Hateful Eight...which means two things. Either I leave amazed that it met my expectations, or I leave disappointed. So...
First off, let's talk about the experience. I went to what was called the 70mm Roadshow Event. It was a limited time showing of the film at around 100 theaters in the United States, shown with the equipment and in the aspect ratio that Tarantino intended. There were no trailers before the movie - it simply started with an overture with music from the legendary Ennio Morricone, which succeeds in getting you into the right mood. It's also unique in that there's a 15 minutes intermission in the middle of the film. Included with the showing was a very cool booklet that had pictures and excerpts from the making of the film.
I went into this movie blind - a first for me when it comes to Tarantino. I avoided everything. I avoided the leaked script that came out years back. I avoided teasers. I avoided trailers. I avoided everything. I hadn't seen one frame of the film, so everything was fresh. I had no idea what it was about. In short, and without giving anything away, it's about a bounty hunter named John Ruth, who's transporting a bounty named Daisy Domergue. They're headed into a town called Red Rock, where she is bound to be hanged, and he is bound to be paid. However, a blizzard traps the two of them and several others in a place called Minnie's Haberdashery in which nothing is what it seems. The movie is a slow burn, with an eye-opening moment that happens right before the intermission, letting you know that after a short break, shit is about to go down...and it does go down.
The ensemble cast is incredible, featuring Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Tim Roth doing his best Christoph Waltz impression, Channing Tatum and more. Sam Jackson and Kurt Russell are fantastic, but I'm having a tough time deciding towards who stole the show - Goggins, as the racist Chris Mannix, or Leigh as the devilish Domergue. Surprisingly, Channing Tatum was the only weak link for me, as he simply comes off as...Channing Tatum. He's surprisingly unconvincing, as if Magic Mike simply rode into the Wild West in a time machine.
I had no idea what to expect when it came to the look of the movie, and I was incredibly surprised. The exterior shots in 70mm were given room to breathe, to shine...they were simply astounding. I think that this is definitely the best looking Tarantino movie to date, which is saying a lot. Every shot is meticulously constructed, challenging you to pay attention to what's happening in both the foreground and background at the same time.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about The Hateful Eight is the dialogue. As the movie largely takes place in one location, it had to be strong, and Tarantino delivered. It's snappy, it's funny, it moves the plot along. I don't remember the last time I laughed as hard in a theater as when Walton Goggins cackles, "I FUCKIN' KNEW IT!". If you're offended by the "N-Word", this probably isn't the movie for you.