The Hateful Eight: Target Exclusive (DVD/ Blu-ray Comparison)

Quentin Tarantino's Academy Award winning The Hateful Eight on DVD and Blu-ray.  This is it?  There's just the one, practically barebones edition of the shorter, theatrical cut out there?  Even internationally?  Where's the fancy, six-disc, boxed in an authentic, working stagecoach edition?  There's got to be something out there, some smarter buy, some fancy collector's edition.  Well, there is the Target exclusive edition with its own bonus disc; that's a little bit better.
If you slept through 2015, The Hateful Eight is Tarantino's latest and supposedly eighth film.  I mean, lord knows how you'd come to all of that.  Even assuming we only mean his films as director, as opposed to writer, producer and/or actor (sorry, Destiny Turns On the Radio), so no True Romance or From Dusk Till Dawn, it still leaves a lot of questions.  Do Four Rooms or Sin City count?  Or not, because they're only partially directed by him?  If partials don't count, what about Grindhouse?  He only directed half (less if you count the fake trailers) of that one, but maybe Death Proof counts on its own?  And it's probably safe to assume pre-Reservoir Dogs juvenilia doesn't count, but how about Kill Bill?  Is that one or two?  I feel like the books had to be cooked a little to arrive at this cutesy Eight is eighth heading; it was a little more straight-forward in Fellini's case, but let's just let him have it.
Anyway, The Hateful Eight has some of Tarantino's usual depictions of excessive violence (thanks to Greg Nicotero), but for the most part it's a light, Western whodunit.  Kurt Russell is a bounty hunter escorting his convict, Jennifer Jason Leigh, to the hangman.  But he gets waylaid at a small in during a massive blizzard with a colorful rogues gallery, some or all of whom might secretly be there to take his prisoner.  As a light entertainment, it's pretty long and self-indulgent, but that's Tarantino for you.  Anyway, it's masterfully done enough that it keeps you hanging on to every second.  Beautiful, 70mm photography, a fantastic cast full of Tarantino regulars like Samuel Jackson, Michael Madsen and Tim Roth, and a score by Ennio Morricone.
If you've been following this film, then you should know there's an alternate, even longer cut of this film, called The Roadshow version - so called because Tarantino was touring with a 70mm print of this film.  The film as released, and the one that played in most theaters across the country, is almost three hours, but the Roadshow version is over three.  Now, a large chunk of that time came be accounted for by an overture and intermission in the Roadshow version, but there are also extended and exclusive scenes in that cut.  So where's that version on home video?  Nowhere.
And seeing as this film went to great expense to film on 70mm, it's surprising there's no 4k UltraHD disc.  Plus, with only two tiny featurettes for extras, is this a release to skip?  Is it like Nymphomaniac, where the full, director's cut would come follow it up just a few months later?  Or like The Hobbit movies, where they hold onto the extended cuts with all the better extras for half a year, after letting all the suckers by the theatrical versions first?  Is a Criterion edition just around the corner?  Well, maybe; but it's been a while now and there haven't been any signs yet.  Tarantino might want to preserve the exclusive nature of his theatrical prints forever, and this might just be the best edition we'll ever get.  Maybe.  Who knows with Tarantino.  Let's just see what's available now.
Anchor Bay 2015 DVD on top, and their blu-ray below.
You can buy the DVD by itself, but the blu is a combo-pack, so you're going to wind up with the standard definition version anyway you slice it.  At least that gives me an easy comparison.  This film is super wide, framed at 2.75:1.  Having been shot in 70mm gives it the capacity for detail and image quality very few other films have the potential to achieve, and the cinematography wisely exploits that throughout the film.  In HD, detail is super crisp and sharp.  If you're looking for a blu-ray to test your set-up, The Hateful Eight would be a great choice.  That increased resolution really makes a difference, which you see when you get in close to the DVD.
Anchor Bay 2015 blu-ray on top, and their DVD below.
So much information is just washed away in SD.  In close-up, it looks like I'm comparing the blu to some old, non-anamorphic DVD from the 90s.  The blu-ray really makes a difference here, especially if you have the screen size to appreciate it.  Again, it makes you wonder how it could look in true 4k.

Audio-wise, the film is mixed in 5.1 and featured in DTS-HD.  There's also a Spanish dub and optional subtitles in both languages.
So, let's talk extras.  On most versions, there are just two short featurettes: one making of that runs seven and a half minutes long, and one about the 70mm format that's under five.  And about half of that second one is really a shameless advertisement for the roadshow.  They're not terrible, fans should give them a watch, but it's a pittance.  But the Target exclusive version has a bonus DVD with a roughly thirty-minute long documentary that is at least distinctly better.  First of all, though, I have to point out that it's essentially an extended version of what's on the first disc.  Or, more accurately, the two short featurettes are cut out of this original, longer feature.  All of the footage in those two featurettes (except a little of the blatantly commercial talk in the second one) is contained in the bonus disc one.  But that one also has extended interviews with the cast, a behind-the-scenes look at scoring the film, and more on the 70mm stuff.  So it's definitely better.  And if you get it, there's absolutely zero reason to watch the short extras on disc 1.  Skip 'em; they're completely redundant.
content only on the bonus disc.
But I don't want to overhype it.  Even this bonus disc documentary isn't exactly Burden of Dreams.  It's still pretty short and not the special edition you'd expect for a film like this.  But it is a worthwhile improvement that feels more substantive than what everyone else gets.  The Target version also comes with a cool, lenticular slipcover.  The standard version comes in a slipcover, too, but not with that holographic-style front.  ...And, it should be pointed out, that Best Buy has an exclusive steelbook case, but no bonus disc.  Just in terms of content, the Target version is the only one that makes an improvement.
If you're a fan of this film, you don't have a lot of options.  The difference between the blu and the DVD is definitely noticeable, though.  And the Target exclusive isn't exactly amazing, but it gives you more than any other release, and as of this writing, can still be ordered new direct from their website.  So that's definitely what I'd recommend, unless you're going to hold out hope for a stellar Roadshow Edition a few more years down the pike.

2 comments:

  1. I chose this version over the Best Buy version although that steelbook is really nice, better than the lenticular cover from Target.

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  2. This movie is a mess. I guarantee it will not stand the test of time.

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