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The Hateful Eight (Blu-ray Review)

Hateful-EightAnchor Bay Entertainment and The Weinstein Company are proud to present the home entertainment release of the eighth film by two-time Academy Award® winner Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained, Pulp Fiction). Shot entirely on 70mm and featuring a Golden Globe® and BAFTA®award-winning score by Oscar® winner Ennio Morricone (Bugsy, The Mission) THE HATEFUL EIGHT“absolutely delivers on the sheer moment-to-moment pleasures fans have come to expect — from dynamite dialogue to powder-keg confrontations,” Peter Debruge, Variety.  THE HATEFUL EIGHT marks the triumphant return to the genre for legendary composer Morricone (The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, A Fistful of Dollars). Nominated for an Academy Award® for Best Original Score, Morricone is back in the saddle after nearly four decades since last scoring a full-length Western. Additional Academy Award®nominations include 3-time Oscar® winner Robert Richardson for Best Cinematography and Jennifer Jason Leighfor Best Actress in a Supporting Role. THE HATEFUL EIGHT’s notorious all-star cast also boasts Oscar®nominees Samuel L. Jackson(Pulp Fiction), Kurt Russell (Silkwood), Emmy® nominee Walton Goggins (TV’sJustified), Demian Bichir (A Better Life)and Tim Roth (Rob Roy)

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Set six or eight or twelve years after the Civil War, a stagecoach hurtles through the wintry Wyoming landscape. The passengers, bounty hunter John Ruth and his fugitive Daisy Domergue, race towards the town of Red Rock where Ruth, known in those parts as “The Hangman,” will bring Domergue to justice. Along the road, they encounter two strangers: Major Marquis Warren, a black former union soldier turned infamous bounty hunter, and Chris Mannix, a southern renegade who claims to be the town’s new Sheriff. Losing their lead on the blizzard, Ruth, Domergue, Warren and Mannix seek refuge at Minnie’s Haberdashery, a stagecoach stopover on a mountain pass. When they arrive at Minnie’s, they are greeted not by the proprietor but by four unfamiliar faces. Bob, who’s taking care of Minnie’s while she’s visiting her mother, is holed up with Oswaldo Mobray, the hangman of Red Rock, cow-puncher Joe Gage, and Confederate General Sanford Smithers. As the storm overtakes the mountainside stopover, our eight travelers come to learn they may not make it to Red Rock after all…

While there are many, many influences on The Hateful Eight, its quite easily put to sell someone as Reservoir Dogs meets The Thing.  But its also very Tarantino and very much its own beast.  For a near three hour film that takes place in one cabin with eight (nine) people to move as fast and be as thrilling as it is, is quite an achievement.  many factors give way to this happening.

The film starts out with Ennio Morricone’s fantastic Academy Award winning score.  Once you hear a couple notes, you’ll soon realize nobody else had even the slightest chance of getting the award.  There is not a whole lot going on in the credits, but the score immediately grabs your attention and gets you sort of tensed up and ready to go for this film.  With it comes senses of intrigue, suspense and a lot of emotions with basically just looking at a statue, snow and names of the people who made the film.  Quite a feat, and well deserving of one of cinema’s greatest ever composers.

It was a strong year for cinematography, but The Hateful Eight’s was one of the best.  A more throwback and epic shot film, this thing is just a marvel to look at.  Seriously.  This is almost like Tarantino approaching Wes Anderson territory in making such precise decisions on framing every shot.  Things are masterfully placed, blocking has more purpose than just character actions.  It paints a lovely picture.  I also love looking at it and trying to see everything he put in the sides and captured in the background.  While a lot of it is just dressing, it feels like it has a certain purpose to it.  It makes it a lot of fun.

Oh…yeah, there’s a cast too.  Samuel L Jackson is always a top performer, but this movie he brings it like he hasn’t in years.  The man was robbed an Academy Award nomination.  Basically the whole film revolves around him in a way.  But, let’s not forget Jennifer Jason Leigh who is outstanding in the film and gets really run through the wringer in a physical performance.  Handcuffed to her is Kurt Russell who is having a lot of fun in one of two westerns he was in last year.  And I must say that I’m pleased to see the great Walton Goggins in a big role in a big film.

We have a twisted Agatha Christie-ish tale as only Quentin Tarantino could tell it in The Hateful Eight.  This is a movie we almost didn’t get after the script leak.  Thankfully we have it.  Tarantino has now made two great all-time Westerns too.  Quite impressive.  I’m excited to see where he’d go next.  But for now, we can study The Hateful Eight which is a beautifully shot, scored, directed and acted film.  One of the Tarantino canon’s best.

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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.76:1

Clarity/Detail:  Thank heavens this comes to Blu-ray in its natural 2.76:1 aspect ratio.  And the transfer is outstanding.  This is a sharp, clean and crisp picture with luscious detail all around.  One of the best shot films of 2015, it comes across incredibly.  I’m jealous of those with bigger screens than myself as I’m sure this one looks better the bigger it gets.

Depth:  Being this film was so expertly shot, detail on background imagery is astounding.  Every frame has your eyes wandering and marveling at every little piece being included in the shot and its clear and crisp in this transfer.  Spacing is quite marvelous and 3 dimensional.  Movements are smooth and cinematic as can be.

Black Levels:  Blacks here are inky and absolutely gorgeous.  They are quite a bit deep and consuming, but there is a rich beauty to them.  Some detail can be missing, but think like leather and hat fabric can be made out quite well.  Shadows and the like are silky good too.  A highlight on the transfer.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are bold and everything sits strong and lifelike.  They come off as strong but nothing is extremely vibrant, even Samuel L Jackson’s colorful attire.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and consistent throughout the duration of the film’s running time.  Facial detail is EXTREMELY well capture from even the furthest distances.  You can see details of the blood/brain splatter on Jennifer Jason Leigh’s face from a far away shot like she’s in the room with you.  Very impressive.

Noise/Artifacts:  Clean

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Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics:  Well, as expected, The Hateful Eight’s 5.1 track is a wonderfully mixed, full sounding, layered and eventful experience.  It keeps you involved and just sounds so present.  Ennio Morricone’s score sounds beautiful in this blend as well.

Low Frequency Extension:  The LFE lends itself to boosting the clip clops of horses, doors slamming, guns firing, stools sliding on wood floors and much more.  The subwoofer is a wonderful teammate in the mix and plays its part perfectly.

Surround Sound Presentation:  All five channels are active and play a good part in this mix.  Minnie’s Haberdashery is well realized here.  You know what’s going on in every corner of it in this mix.  

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is loud, crisp, clean and every breath, every piece of diction is captured.

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The Hateful Eight comes with a DVD Copy and UltraViolet Digital Copy of the film.

Beyond the Eight: A Behind-the-Scenes Look (HD, 4:58) – An all to brief EPK behind the scenes featurette, generic collection of on-set/press interviews with the cast, producer Bob Richardson and Quentin Tarantino. Almost like an extended commercial that would air between movies on a premium cable movie channel.

Sam Jackson’s Guide to Glorious 70mm (HD, 7:49) – Samuel L Jackson, James Parks, Walton Goggins, Bob Richardson, Richard Gladstein, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Roth, Bob Harvey and Quentin Tarantino go through the history of roadshow movie events, what made them different special and how The Hateful Eight is honoring and using the 70mm process.

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The Hateful Eight turned out to be divisive film from Quentin Tarantino film and I guess I’m in the camp that’s sort of surprised by that.  Not only did it turn out to be one of my favorite of his films, but I love it as an all-timer Western as well.  It comes to Blu-ray in a pretty disappointing release.  Not because of the presentation; its top notch and excellent.  But the extras here are bullshit.  The roadshow history is nice, but its something that should go along with many more extras.  The behind the scenes featurette is a joke.  Hopefully we see a full roadshow edition in the near future and we’re not just hopelessly waiting like we are for The Whole Bloody Affair cut of Kill Bill.  I love the film, so I say pick it up based upon that strength, but don’t expect much else.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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