The Hateful Eight (2015): An Exploration of Hate

The Hateful Eight

      “The Hateful Eight” is a really good film. Not one of Tarantino’s best films but still his quality that he brings to all of his work. In this we see him explore some of the tropes of Westerns, History and the Civil War and from the depths of hate that characters can be driven too when they are desperate or so broken down by the world around them. It’s powerfully done and he does a great job presenting it all. I’ll get into more detail later in the review.

     The film was written and directed by Quentin Tarantino and produced by Richard N. Gladstein, Shannon McIntosh and Stacey Sher.

      The film involves eight strangers seeking refuge in a blizzard as secrets unfold as all is not as it appears to be. John Ruth (Kurt Russell) the bounty hunter is bringing in Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to be hung in Red Rock but picks up bounty Hunter Major Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) and Sheriff Mannix (Walton Goggins) who are also on their way to Red Rock where they meet the others at Minnie’s Haberdashery where the events unfold.

The Pros: The Cinematography – The cinematography is beautiful. Robert Richardson did a great job and gives us scenes that capture the destitution of the of where this all takes place and the cost of war on a population that is recovering (this is post Civil War) and how far there is still to go in regards to being free even though slavery is done.

The Soundtrack – The soundtrack fits everything so well and captures the nihilism of our characters and also the fun nature that Tarantino brings to all his work. Ennio Morricone was the right person for this film and the music is good at pulling you in and keeping you present with whatever events are transpiring.

The Dialogue – Tarantino’s dialogue is always snappy and the actors use it very well. It feels natural for all of who they are and Tarantino continues to show why this is his forte.

 Story Structure – Tarantino’s novel like format comes again and is one of the things I really liked about the film. There are pauses and at one point Tarantino is the narrator explaining what happens after a chapter. The story takes place over 5 chapters with Chapter 4 setting up Chapter 3 with a flashback setting up the events. It’s really well done and I’m glad Tarantino has this unique style.

The Situation – The idea of 8 people trapped in a blizzard with one of them holding a lie is quite compelling. How it all unfolds is really cool too as all of them are hateful and despicable people each in their own way and it lends stakes to all that unfolds.

John Ruth – Kurt Russell’s John Ruth is one of the few characters who was the closest thing to a hero. He’s the guy taking out the worst of the worst and hanging them. He’s obsessed and is prickly to everyone. He has a respect for Warren but that takes along time and by the end we see that he was right to put his trust into him. He’s all about his job and when he dies you somewhat feel it since Kurt Russell does a good job playing the bitter bounty hunter.

Major Warren – This guy is brutal but you also get why as he is a freed man whose only protection from racism against the Union and Confederacy is a forged letter from Abraham Lincoln. He’s a bounty hunter so already he’s at the bottom of the food chain but Ruth has a respect for him and that never completely goes away. Warren is the closest thing to a protagonist even though he is still villainous as he does a pretty horrendous things to one of hte monster character’s children. There are no good characters in this film and Samuel L. Jackson represents this really well.

Okay: The Characters – They are well acted but because they are all so despicable there aren’t any reasons to like any of them. We don’t get reasons for what they did and this brings the story down and puts it below “Reservoir Dogs” in many ways (though both films are similar).

   This is a movie that is worth checking out, and I do consider it a favorite film but not one of Tarantino’s best. What really brings it down is Domergue’s Gang is just kind of there. They don’t get the kind of development that the folks receive in “Reservoir Dogs” which is the most similar as a bunch of characters who hate each other are trapped in a room. What really makes it work are the characters of Ruth and Warren who are both so twisted but manage to be compelling as they are given reason for what they do, the same cannot be said for a lot the others. This is a shame since Tarantino is usually really great at giving extended motivation for what makes his characters make the choices they do.

Final Score: 8.4 / 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 4, Episode 20 – “Bounty” – The Good in Ventress

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  “Bounty” continues Ventress’s story though is a stand alone episode as well as we are introduced to a free Boba Fett and his band of Bounty Hunters who are doing a job for a corrupt warlord. It is a good episode in how it further humanizes Ventress and shows the ways she is changing after the loss of her people.

    The episode was directed by Kyle Dunlevy and written by Katie Lucas.

    The story involves Ventress being pulled onto Boba’s team after she kills one of his men. From here they must protect cargo for a warlord, but thing soon get complicated when they find out the cargo is a member of the species that is attempting to free the cargo.

The Pros: The Job – A high speed train being chased by aliens below a planet’s surface while protecting special cargo sounds just awesome! The job is pulled off really well too as the aliens who are attacking have the advantage of numbers even though individually the Bounty Hunters are stronger.

The Bounty Hunters – Bossk continues to kick but and be Boba’s protector, C-21 Highsinger saves the cargo on multiple occasions, Denger is palyed by Simon Pegg who gives a lot of life to the character and Razzi fights with metallic leaves and becomes Ventress’s friend. Boba Fett is also pretty cool this episode and proves why he is the best as he beats every enemy he faces on the train.

Ventress – Ventress goes her own way and saves the cargo, conning the warlord but still gives the Bounty Hunters all their cut while collecting a small cut from the people whose daughter was kidnapped. She isn’t good but she is better and has found her own path outside of the Nightsisters and the Sith.

The Cons: The Belugans – These guys have no motivation and we don’t know why they kidnapped the humanoid girl as it seemed to serve no purpose in mating since they probably weren’t even genetically compatible. Never believed they were a threat, there tram is cool and that’s about it.

   This was a great but not a favorite episode. The biggest issue I had with it were the Belugans and I felt that Boba could have been more than an arrogant kid (though he was a great fighter this episode). This episode is about Ventress at it’s core and is what is done well. I consider her a favorite in this series after this episode and the one prior.

Final Score: 9 / 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 2, Episodes 20-22 – “Boba Fett’s Revenge Arc” – Boba Fett is Ruined

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       This arc was okay, it wasn’t great as we get a lot of beige Jedi and Boba Fett was too, there was so much potential with his character that was just wasted since the show wasn’t willing to go as far as it could have for showing an orphan who had been raised by the best Bounty Hunter in the galaxy. Most of that was abandoned for overdone cliches and the most interesting parts of the episode were Anakin’s reaction to things and Captain Captain Hondo.

      “Death Trap” was directed by Steward Lee and written by Doug Petric, Drew Z. Greenberg and Brian Larsen. “R2 Come Home” was directed by Giancarlo Volpe and written by Eoghan Mahony, Drew Z. Greenberg and Brian Larsen and “Lethal Trackdown” was directed by Dave Filoni who was one of the writers along with Greenberg and Larsen.

    The story involves Boba Fett’s quest for Revenge with Sing to kill Mace Windu for the murder of his father. From here things unfold as he destroys a Republic Cruiser to trap them and deals with the threat of the Jedi closing in as he seeks to bring about his revenge and deal with his conflicted feelings over the people caught in the crossfire.

The Pros: Captain Hondo – This guy is back as Sing’s ex and he has a great dynamic with her and the Jedi as he doesn’t want to get burned from either side. Seeing him play the neutral party for once when he is usually an antagonist was pretty awesome.

Anakin Skywalker – Skywalker almost dies but through R2 manages to save himself and Windu. He is the one all out for killing Boba and if Boba kills Jedi later, he wouldn’t be completely wrong. In this we see how driven Anakin is by ends justifying the means and that there isn’t any accountability as Windu never calls him out fully on being so focused on himself and his ego.

Okay: The Bounty Hunters – They all have cool looks but we never get to know what their drive is beyond money or why Sing is helping Boba. Wasted potential but they weren’t completely useless.

The Cons: Boba Fett – For a character that is supposed to be the greatest badass later he mostly just frowns and fails in his mission and feels bad about the innocents in the crossfire later. Very poorly handled as a character.

The Jedi – Windu and Plo Koon are blank slates in this and we never get to know Ahsoka either because Plo and Windu take up so much of the screentime.

  This was an arc that was okay, but had way too much going against it. It would have been better to leave Boba out and make his story a mystery as now he has been even more ruined by the influence of the prequels.

Final Score: 5 / 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 2, Episode 11 – “Lightsaber Lost” – Learning Patience

Lightsaber Lost

    “Lightsaber Lost” is a good adventure episode that lets us explore Coruscant further and give Ahsoka good character development. It makes good use of the limited time to tell a good story, though some of the quotes from the Prequels are problematic and they come up here at the end. I’ll get into what I mean later.

      The episode was directed by Giancarlo Volpe and written by Drew Z. Greenberg.

       The story involves Ahsoka’s quest to retake her lightsaber after a pickpocket on the lower levels sells it. As she investigates in her search from it Jedi Master Sinube works with her as he has not gone on an adventure for a long time and he specializes in the study of Coruscant’s criminal underworld.

The Pros: The Action – This is a good action episode as we see Ahsoka chasing a bounty hunter across the underworld of Coruscant and even into traffic as they jump from floating board to floating board. It’s a really cool action sequence.

Jedi Master Sinube – Sinube is an old Jedi who is super smart and slow. We see him figure out that the girlfriend murdered the boyfriend and he helps Ahsoka find them and learn patience. He is a great Jedi Master.

Ahsoka – Ahsoka is shown to be a lot like Anakin, from her attachment to her lightsaber, her willingness to attack for information first rather than question and how she jumps into everything without looking. She learns to step back from all of that though thanks to Sinube.

Palpatine’s Speech – This is a small note but I liked it. On his video to the public Palpatine is saying some suspect that the Jedi are trying to take over the government due to their expanding power during the war, he disagrees and asks for more wartime powers for himself and the Jedi…it’s a powerful sequence that is setting up the later fall of the Jedi really well. The public is already questioning them if they think they plan a government takeover.

The Cons: The Minor Characters – Everyone in the underworld isn’t fleshed out. The pickpocket is just a coward and has no motivation beyond greed, and the woman who killed her boyfriend and the bounty hunter are never given reasons for stealing the lightsaber and why they think it is so important. I never got reasons for anything they did, so even though they did the murder we never learn why beyond the lightsaber. This was poor writing on Greenberg’s part.

Your Lightsaber is Your Life – This is a messed up idea and one that Ahsoka tells the younglings. It is this mentality that makes the Jedi more of a military order than anything else and with it also cult like tendencies too. Your life is your life and the lightsaber is a weapon to protect your life and the lives of others. This was first mentioned in Episode II and I hate that it made a comeback too. Yoda at Dagoba was big on weapons not being the way of the Jedi and wars not making a person great, though I guess the Prequels changed that…in my opinion for the worse.

   This was a fun episode that is worth checking out. The murder mystery could have been a lot better but Ahsoka and Sinube have a great dynamic and it was fun seeing Ahsoka’s recklessness getting her into trouble that she had to get herself out of. She’s a flawed Jedi and that is part of what makes her so interesting as a character.

Final Score: 7 / 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 2, Episode 17 – “Bounty Hunters” – To Protect a Village

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     “Bounty Hunters” is an okay episode. It has a good message and some great character designs, especially among the Bounty Hunters, and I did enjoy Obi-Wan’s dynamic with Fugi and Captain Hondo. The rest felt wasted though and the episode could have been better with less characters. Anakin and Ahsoka felt needlessly added on for a lot of it.

     The episode was directed by Steward Lee and written by Carl Ellsworth.

    The story involves Obi-Wan, Anakin and Ahsoka crash landing on a planet after being attacked and working with a village and Bounty Hunters to protect the village and in the end find a way off the planet. The threat to the village is from Captain Hondo who has taken advantage of the war to force tribute from the undefended worlds.

The Pros: Captain Hondo – He holds his own against Anakin and manages to be a good enemy to deal with. He fights in a tank and injures the Bounty Hunter Embo and kills the Bounty Hunter Rumi. He goes out with style too and sees the world as unprofitable since his killing of the local populace and their protectors didn’t stop them from fighting.

Anakin and Ahsoka – Train the local populace to fight and are mostly focused on helping them find a way to defend themselves. Anakin also stops Hondo’s tank and is the main person who takes him on while Ahsoka connects with the Bounty Hunters.

Obi-Wan – Obi-Wan is rightfully worried about helping given that the village could become a Separatist target but he does and comes around to respect Sugi and her men. He has a great arc and tries diplomacy with Hondo until it fails and he agrees with training the villagers.

Okay: Sugi and The Bounty Hunters – Sugi is great and rationalizes them as having honor, even though they fight for money. She has personality though and defends them. The rest are largely a mystery and we never get to know them all that well. They have great designs though, especially Embo.

The Cons: The Nysillin – These guys are super derpy and their entire arc is learning to fight, which given how old the Star Wars Galaxy is, the fact that they hadn’t dealt with any threats before that was surprising. None of them were memorable either so putting them down as a con.

  This episode was enjoyable but should have just been about Obi-Wan, Sugi and Hondo as they are the strongest part of the episode. The farmers should have been given a culture and a better design. I did like that this episode had cost though, the pirates felt like a threat because they succeeded in killing both villagers and bounty hunters.

Final Score: 7.5 / 10