Oh goody! We’re getting another Quinten Tarantino film! Who wants to bet that it’ll be a very well made throwback to films from his youth that will get half the critics to praise him unendingly and the other half to dismiss him as a stunted artist that’s gotten quite long in the tooth? Personally, I tend to fall into the former category, but I can understand the latter’s frustration with the guy’s output recently. I wouldn’t mind if he goes ahead and does something RADICALLY different from what he’s been doing so far but even if he sticks to the same old tricks, he’s still the undisputed champ of these kinds of films. So with that said, what can we gleam from the first trailer of his latest magnum opus? Let’s find out!!
The trailer begins with Samuel L Jackson sitting on a pile of bodies in the middle of a snowy road as Kurt Russel’s stagecoach approaches, and I guess he joins Kurt Russel for… some reason. They’re both bounty hunters and Kurt Russell has his latest perp handcuffed to him in the form of Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who’s charged with murder and will hang once she’s delivered. From there, the plot isn’t TOO hard to guess, but the trailer makes it kind of hard to understand what is going on. I’m assuming the hateful eight will consist of Kurt Russell (playing John ‘The Hangman’ Ruth), Samuel L Jackson (playing Major Marquis Warren), and the remaining character actors who show up in the trailer, and they’ll all be waiting out a terrible blizzard in this one building. However, Kurt Russell knows for sure that one of them is actually a traitor and is after something (most likely Daisy), so the film will be about praying on one’s paranoia with the characters constantly checking over their shoulders and looking for the rat in the midst.
Honestly, I’m hoping the movie does a better job than this trailer of conveying the story for this film because this shit is choppy and confusing. After a brief opening that at least tells us who Kurt Russel is, we just get a series of random cuts with no sense of flow for any of it. Are they staying at a hotel? Why are there a bunch of cops and robbers there? Isn’t the movie supposed to take place there instead of on the open plains? All the scenes with our characters are inside this one building, but we’re constantly cutting to stagecoaches running off to who knows where!
Now there’s still a HELL of a lot here to look forward to. The cast is what you’d expect from Tarantino which basically means it’s a who’s who of the world’s greatest character actors. It’s quite the impressive cast, from old hand classics like Samuel L Jackson, Kurt Russel, and Michael Madsen, to guys who are bit fresher on the scene like Walter Goggins. All the visual elements are on display and just as good as you’d expect from a guy THIS experienced at taking low budget material and polishing it with multimillion dollar effects, and everyone (at least those we see) is bringing their A-game to this material. It’s exactly what you’d expect from Tarantino who’s very much set in his ways with no indication that he plans to change. How long does he plan to keep making movies like this? Isn’t he going to run out of stuff he saw as a kid at some point? Well it’s been working pretty well so far with Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained being very good films overall, and I don’t doubt that he’ll continue to impress with this. Unfortunately, the trailer doesn’t tell me anything I wasn’t already expecting and it’s very poorly edited together. Sure, they don’t want to spoil the good stuff this early, but what they chose to put in this trailer is just disjointed with no clear sense of flow or story structure.
Since I brought it up, take a look at the first trailer for Inglourious Basterds. Brad Pitt monologues over scenes of action describing who they are, what they plan to do, and how important their sadistic work is. The scenes that play out over the monologue reinforce those moments and provide glimpses at some interesting details such as how dark the Basterds will get and Adolf Hitler’s role in the piece. What’s ESPECIALLY good about this is that it didn’t end up spoiling the rest of the movie for us! There’s another half that’s not even alluded to here that turns out to be the true heart of the film, but were able to compile a compelling and cohesive trailers without ruining that piece of the puzzle. Some tend to think of this as misleading (WHY AREN’T THE BASTERDS IN THIS MORE!?!?) but I still maintain that while more Basterd scenes would have been cool, it would have missed the point to put them too much front and center. To bring it back to the trailer for Hateful Eight, we do indeed know that Kurt Russel is the good guy carrying around a prisoner that’s gonna get his ass in trouble, but there’s not that sense of an overarching conceit they want to sell us on other than cowboys are cool. Is this a story about corrupt lawmen? Is it 3:10 to Yuma where the girl has some deep contacts that will do anything to keep her out of that noose? They might show us more in other trailers, but for now I don’t see anything that’s interesting in and of itself. It’s an interesting film maker with an interesting cast, but what they’re doing here just isn’t all that compelling based on what they chose to show us. Inglourious Basterds was indeed sold as a Tarantino film, but it was also sold as a Nazi revenge film where the Jewish soldiers respond to the terror of the Nazis with even more terror. Django Unchained was about a slave becoming a bounty hunter in a world that doesn’t even accept him as a human being. Hateful Eight is… another Tarantino western.
I’m still looking forward to it, but not because of anything they showed me here. There are so many great trailers out there for the Weinstein Company to be looking at, but instead all they can think of is shoving Tarantino’s name down people’s throats. Maybe that’s all they need at this point but that’s no excuse for this subpar effort, especially considering that the original teaser was somehow more informative than this one considering it’s half as long and has no scenes from the movie. Hopefully the next trailer will be a bit more substantive.