Walking into the Hateful Eight theater was fantastic. The overture was playing, I got in my seat, and the movie opened with a fantastic title sequence, setting a dreadful, hateful tone for the movie, complete with provocative imagery and a fantastic Ennio Morricone song. (The entire soundtrack is great here.)
Unfortunately, not all of it held up.
The Hateful Eight follows Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) as he journeys to a cabin in a Wyoming winter, seeking shelter from a blizzard. Along the way, he meets a ton of strange characters.
Like all of Quentin Tarantino’s movies, The Hateful Eight is not just in one genre; the movie is dramatic, comedic, suspenseful, mysterious, thrilling, etc. and it works a lot better because of it. But I found that the movie hit its stride in the second half, when it became more of a mystery, and the most self-aware of all of Tarantino’s movies. I also believe this movie, at 3 hours and 8 minutes, should be seen with an intermission. My showing did , and there is a change of pace and tone after the intermission, which I believe works better if you have time in between the two halves to process the movie a bit more.
The acting is great. Tim Roth and Walton Goggin's performances were standouts for me. Everyone is great, however, and I’m sure you will have your own preferences. Tarantino’s script is entertaining and mysterious. He does a fine job here both writing and directing.
There are very few movies that deserve a three hour running time. About 90% of them feel bloated, and could use a trim, (though there are exceptions, like Seven Samurai and Godfathers 1 and 2.) The Hateful Eight fits into the 90%. It's a little bloated, and could have been trimmed. Especially the first half, which is a lot of setup that was on-again off-again. For me, a long running time is an issue with most of Tarantino's movies.
The Hateful Eight isn't flawed technically; it looks great, delivers fantastic performances, and has an entertaining script. The problem is just that it's too long. While it's definitely one of Tarantino's worst movies, he has set the bar pretty high.