Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Hatful Eight (2015, Movie Review)

       Okay, let’s talk about Quentin Tarantino for a second. In short ... the dudes a genius, and arguably one of the greatest writer/directors of our time. Some of his best movies include “Pulp Fiction”, “Django Unchained” and the “Kill Bill” movies. Unfortunately, even when it comes to writers and directors that I love, there bound to occasionally do one or two movies that I honestly just didn’t like, and that came in the form of his latest 2015 western titled “The Hatful Eight”. I really wanted to love this movie, and it’s not without some obvious Tarantino highlights, but when the movie ended, I just shrugged and said to myself ... “nope, I just didn’t like that one”.

     The film takes place in a post Civil War western setting, with a group of strangers isolated in a secluded cabin on a mountain side. Snowy weather keeps them contained, but little do they know that there are killers hiding among them. Through a series of events, the people start dropping one after another, a mystery unravels, clues are all around, and the survivors need to discover who the killers are. This is an awesome set up, and almost like an R rated version of the game or the movie “Clue”. Make sure you know what you’re getting into because I saw this movie with a group of people expecting a fast paced western with lots of gun play and traveling. What they got was a film set in one location and the pacing wasn’t always that fast, in fact it could get really boring at times. Let me first address the highlights of the film, Tarantino still proves to be a master of writing exciting dialog for the characters and his direction is as sharp as ever. The music is very good, and the cinematography is beautiful.

     Best of all, the cast is outstanding. Most of the actors in “The Hatful Eight” are Tarantino regulars like Samuel L Jackson, Kurt Russell and Tim Roth, just to name a few. Every actor is at the top of their game, but I can’t say that I liked any of the characters themselves. Most of them are just plain terrible people, and I even thought Samuel L. Jackson as the lead anti hero was kind of distasteful. Looking back at other Tarantino films like “Django Unchained” and “Kill Bill”, they all had characters that I loved cheering for, I wanted the Bride to get her revenge, I wanted Django to put the bad guys in their place, but this film just didn’t give me anyone to latch onto. Also, the over the top violence, gore and dark comedy just felt like over kill in this film. I know those are common tropes in everyone of Tarantino’s movies, and there usually done very well, but this time it just didn’t work for me. I think it all came down to the characters once again, and how much they sickly enjoyed inflicting pain on others. Finally, while I loved the set up of the plot, I also found the mystery very predictable, and I found myself figuring out the obvious before the characters figured it out.

     Overall, if you’re a long time Quentin Tarantino fan, you’ll probably be satisfied with this film, its direction, its cast and it’s over the top action. I wish I could have liked this film as much as his earlier films, but it just didn’t do much for me personally. I do hope this reignites westerns because it’s been such a dying art, and it’s always great to see one in this modern age. While this wasn’t the film for me, I know it has an audience that might like it, so it’s really up for them to judge. For all my grapes with it, I will say that Tarantino is a great talent, and I look forward to seeing what he comes up with in the future.

                                             I give “The Hatful Eight” 2 stars out of five.   

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