Sometimes in life we all need to be told “no”. All of us do, myself in particular. I like to think that every now and then I get some good ideas, but at the same time, I always get some pretty crap ones. Thankfully, I have loving people around me, namely my mother, that are there to ground me when I get lost in my own thoughts and think every little plan I have is a genius idea. It’s a brilliant piece of life advice that everyone needs to be aware of. Quentin Tarantino is no exception to this rule. Over the course of his now eight film career, Tarantino has made some of cinema’s most classic movies and produced intoxicating segments of dialogue that are near impossible to emulate no matter how hard David O. Russell tries. “The Hateful Eight,” Tarantino’s newest film, is a prime example of one of those moments when somebody should have told him “no”.
Historically with Tarantino films, despite them being long and filled mostly with dialogue, I have never been bored. Even with the long moments of dialogue in “Inglorious Bastards” I was always entertained and engrossed by the characters. With “The Hateful Eight,” however, I found myself being very bored for a majority of the time and never became engaged with the film until after the two-hour minute mark. I was yawning, checking my watch, and constantly getting distracted by other things in the theater, which is highly unlike me. I wasn’t as bad as the woman next to me who fell asleep and started snoring on two separate occasions throughout the film, but I still found that this film was missing that typically sharp Tarantino spark that always manages to engage the audience regardless of the situation.
The main reason behind my boredom is because the film was incredibly overwritten, almost as if Tarantino had too much time to work on it and began to overthink everything. There was a lack of vision for a majority of the film and it never gained any solid footing until it was already too late to save my attention. For the last forty odd minutes or so it is engaging and elevates to a new level, but for a film that clocks in nearly 170 minutes, I can’t be waiting that long to see anything substantial. There were many little nuances in this film that were testaments to his old work; similar cinematic techniques used in “Reservoir Dogs,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Django Unchained,” and “Inglorious Bastards” were all scattered throughout the film, but rather than enhancing the film, it was as if Tarantino was trying so hard to fit them in to the script that he compromised certain areas. “Spectre” was a film earlier this year that had mini testaments to old Bond films that were used as nice added bonuses to the separate storyline, and ultimately made the movie more rewarding for the die-hard 007 fans out there. With “The Hateful Eight,” though, all it does is take away from what could have been a much better story.
There are some shining moments; Jennifer Jason-Leigh gives a great supporting actress performance and Tim Roth and Samuel L. Jackson are always fun actors to watch in Tarantino films, but not much beyond that showed any signs of positivity to me. Tarantino may not have been as self-indulgent as Inarritu was in “The Revenant” but he sure was close. Being as Tarantino films are always produced by the Weinstein Company, you get the sense that the executives just let Tarantino do what he wants without any checks, but maybe he could benefit from somebody sitting him down and letting him know when he’s too caught up in his own thoughts. I also don’t understand why he did another Western. He accomplished so much with Django and he’s talented enough to do any style of story (how about a prohibition gangster film?), so why do a repeat? Beats me. There is a good story in this movie, but Tarantino never found it and it results in Tarantino’s worst movie.
The Hateful Eight (2015): 1.5/4 stars