Leave it to Quentin Tarantino to make a nearly three-hour film that takes place mostly in one room, yet still manages to be great. While the writer/director still gives in to some of the self-indulgent tendencies his fans have come to expect, The Hateful Eight is smartly crafted and brimming with fine performances. Somewhat unexpectedly, while the film has its share of violence, it’s also genuinely fun.
Set in post-Civil War Wyoming, bounty hunter John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell), earned his nickname as the only man in his occupation to actually bother returning fugitives alive to be hanged for their crimes. Currently, John is returning wanted murderer Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), to Red Rock to face justice, but a blizzard has changed his plans. A necessary detour and a sliver of humanity has him picking up two stranded travelers before they freeze to death: Major Marquis Warren, a Union soldier turned fellow bounty hunter, (Samuel L. Jackson) and Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins) a Southern rebel who claims to be the new sheriff of Red Rock.
Forced to take shelter in the mountains at Minnie’s Haberdashery, John finds himself trapped in a room with six other strangers he doesn’t trust. In fact, he’s sure one of them is in cahoots with Daisy, and he’s determined to figure out who it is before it’s too late. The list of suspects includes local hangman Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), enigmatic cowboy Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), Confederate general Sandy Smithers (Bruce Dern) and a Mexican named Bob (Demian Bichir) who’s looking after the trading post while the owners are away. Stuck in the cabin until the storm passes, paranoia becomes the order of the day as identities and motivations are repeatedly questioned.
Tarantino has written a top notch script, fleshing out characters, and creating moments of levity to break up the palpable tension. The cast is uniformly excellent, and some of that is likely because most of them have worked with Tarantino before. And while there’s no doubt that The Hateful Eight is largely an ensemble piece, it’s Samuel L. Jackson who manages to shine above the rest, particularly during a long soliloquy that is both bizarre and oddly suitable for his character. It’s rude, crude, full of braggadocio, and one of the highlights of the film.
For a film that essentially takes place in one room, there’s a lot going on in every scene. You have to watch carefully or you might miss something. The Hateful Eight will do nothing to quell persistent complaints about Quentin Tarantino’s use of violence, gore, racist language, and such, it’s hard to deny that the man has a unique take on cinema, and its genres.
Presented in its original ultra-wide 2.76:1 aspect ratio, The Hateful Eight looks gorgeous on this 1080p transfer from Anchor Bay. Even the snowy outdoor scenes offer up incredible detail. Saturation appears accurate, as do contrast, and shadow detail. Textures really pop, and facial features look realistic. This is really everything you want a Blu-ray to look like.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is totally enveloping. The dialogue is front and center, while the music cues, including Ennio Morricone’s Academy Award-winning instrumentals, fill the surrounds. The rear channels bring in atmospherics—weather conditions, etc.—which comes together to match the visual excellence.
English and Spanish subtitles are included.
The following extras are available:
- Beyond the Eight: A Behind the Scenes Look (HD, 4:58) A brief look at the film with some cast and crew interviews.
- Sam Jackson’s Guide to Glorious 70mm (HD, 7:49) A quick history of 70mm film.
- UV Digital Copy