The Hateful Eight: Thoughts On the New Quentin Tarantino Movie

I had a chance to screen The Hateful Eight this week, just before the new Quentin Tarantino movie opens in 70mm in select cities followed by a standard format-release one week later. So will it take over the world like Pulp Fiction or fade into oblivion like Death Proof? Read on for my thoughts on the film.

The N-Word Looms Large

While most of us have done a pretty good job of eliminating the n-word from our vocabulary, Quentin Tarantino is a man obsessed with it.

In his last movie, Django Unchained, the word was used close to 120 times. In The Hateful Eight, it is uttered, screamed and spewed in some 65 instances.

Tarantino has long defended his inclusion of the word in his movies (it was used 20 times in Pulp Fiction), but at this point, I think he’s just doing it because he can. In any event, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Friends’ Central won’t be screening The Hateful Eight any time soon.

The Hateful Eight Is Long … Very Very Long

There are two versions of The Hateful Eight that will be released. The 70mm “Roadshow” version comes out on Christmas Day in select cities, and that will be followed by a standard version on New Year’s Day.

The Roadshow Hateful Eight is a whopping 187 minutes, and that’s not including the four-minute overture and a twelve-minute intermission. So let’s figure on 15 minutes of previews, and you’re looking at close to three hours and forty minutes total commitment. The standard multiplex version has an official run time of two hours, 47 minutes.

I saw the longer version of The Hateful Eight. The portion before intermission is a long, slow build, and veteran Tarantino fans might wonder, Where’s all the action? Don’t worry. Once you come back from intermission, the action explodes all over your face. I’m just glad it’s not in 3-D. You’ll see what I mean.

Like most movies that top the three-hour mark, The Hateful Eight doesn’t need to be quite so long. But Tarantino is having fun geeking out with his audience, and most of them will be perfectly happy to geek out along with him.

See The Hateful Eight in 70mm

In case you haven’t been to a movie theater since Die Hard came out, you should know that almost all of them have gone digital — meaning no more film. But Tarantino insisted on releasing The Hateful Eight in a 70mm version, so the studio spent the last couple of years rounding up old 70mm projectors, fixing them, and distributing them to the theaters that would be showing the larger format of the movie. The New York Times documented the fascinating process.

So what’s the big deal with 70mm? Well, for one thing, the picture looks better than the standard digital releases. Think about it in terms of digital cameras. Remember when we were all concerned about how many megapixels our cameras had? 70mm is basically the T-Rex of that. And on top of that, it’s just cool in the same way that vinyl albums are cool again.

Here’s Tarantino telling Jimmy Kimmel all about why he wanted to do The Hateful Eight in 70mm:

If you want to see The Hateful Eight in 70mm, it is playing in the Philadelphia area at AMC Cherry Hill, Riverview, UA King of Prussia, and AMC Neshaminy.

The Hateful Eight Is Ultra Gory and Violent

If you’ve heard that The Hateful Eight is a Western, that’s true. But don’t bring your grandfather thinking this is some John Wayne yarn or even your dad thinking that it’s a more modern take on The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. If grandpa wants to see people literally getting their heads blown off (in as much detail as one could imagine possible), a woman abused repeatedly and brutally, bloody projectile vomiting, or forced oral copulation, by all means, this is the movie for him.

The Cast Saves the Day

This is not Tarantino’s worst film, but it is far from his best. Yes, The Hateful Eight is a beautiful piece of film craft, but the story is essentially an Agatha Christie mystery, hardly deep enough to sustain such a long movie. And the use of the n-word and the violence and gore are simply too gratuitous, even by Tarantino standards.

All that said, the cast is superb and makes The Hateful Eight a must for any Tarantino fan (but, let’s get real, it’s not like any Tarantino fan wouldn’t see the movie) and enjoyable enough for your average moviegoer who might just be curious. Kurt Russell and Samuel L. Jackson anchor The Hateful Eight with their performances, and then a from-out-of-nowhere Jennifer Jason Leigh pops into the frame and steals the show.

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