A good way to approach the Hateful Eight is to think of it as another Reservoir Dogs or 12 Angry Men; it is not by design or construction a Western persay; that is simply the setting of the proceedings. The film is basically a stage play with two different settings, one which dominates most of the film; it isn’t like Macbeth where there’s a dozen different locales so you could make a traditional style of movie out of it. With that in mind the film is almost three hours long, or about twice as long as the first two films. So, it should go without saying that the film does not have the rigidly perfect pacing of Reservoir Dogs (easily Tarantino’s best film) or the continuous momentum of 12 Angry Men, and on the grand scheme of things The Hateful Eight is ultimately inferior to a couple of masterpieces.
However that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t see the film; I will say it is baffling just how pleasing a movie this is to sit through. Traditionally even the best three hour films have their tedium and boring moments, and at the end your ass is just sore from being in that damn chair for so long. Not so with the Hateful Eight; there is a short scene at the beginning of the film that drags for a few minutes but once you’re past that it’s nothing but solid Tarantino Dialogue and ridiculously over the top violence the rest of the way.
Another way to think of this film is in the context of Kingsman: The Secret Service, and I’d venture to say they’re basically the same movie just with different plots and genres. If you wanted 90 minutes of Sam Jackson laughing his ass off and swearing up a storm, this is your movie. Sure, sure there’s no “This a dope ass top hat!” scene and the funniest actual (unprintable by a Caucasian not named Tarantino) line is delivered by Tim Roth; but Sam Jackson is just loving this shit the entire time. Kingsman X Reservoir Dogs, the movie magic you never knew you wanted.
As for the rest of the cast, all of them are great. Haven’t seen Michael Madsen in a long time; and while he doesn’t have any “Stuck in the Middle With You” going on he’s still pleasantly satisfying. Mr. Orange returns with a British accent this time, Mr. Brown narrates a bit to explain why “Domergue’s Got a Secret.” I mourn the absence of Harvey Keitel, but all in all the entire cast performs just as well. Jennifer Jason Leigh is getting Oscar consideration and she certainly holds her ground in a fairly difficult role to sell, but like many of this year’s performances hers isn’t an astonishingly amazing one or anything.
If you have any remote interest in the American Civil War there’s a whole shitload of references to that, even moreso than something like Josey Wales; and I have to say Tarantino’s general knowledge of the time period is rather endearing. Even as someone who finds most of his work to be at least slightly overrated it’s hard to not admire his ability to make a three hour movie that’s not boring for any extended length of time; let alone with a single setting. I guess since I’m boxed into the idea of rating films I’d put this one roughly on par with Creed, joining a three way tie for 5th place.