2016 is off to a very good start film wise. Last weekend audiences were treated to Quinten Tarantino's eighth feature, The Hateful Eight; a bloody, violent Western that was, essentially, a stage play. The Revenant, another anticipated Western, hit theaters yesterday, and the reviews have been, for the most part, very positive. Alejandro González Iñárritu's follow-up to Birdman centers on real life frontiersman Hugh Glass, who after surviving a bear attack sets out on a trail of vengeance for those who left him for dead.
Both movies are Westerns. Both are made by acclaimed directors. Both feature an unbelievable cast. But which one is better?
I thought it would be interesting to do a side-by-side comparison to the two movies to determine which one is superior. Now granted, the movies are very different from one another. The Hateful Eight takes place in one room and relies heavily on dialog. The Revenant is set over a vast landscape and has little to no dialog for long periods of time. But these are two of the most anticipated movies of 2016, and try as we might audiences will compare them. Let's see how they stack up next to each other through different categories.
Category #1 - Directing
Let's face it, Tarantino is one of the most influential filmmakers of today's generation. He's made classics like Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs and Inglorious Basterds. He's implemented unique framing techniques and practically invented the pop culture dialog between characters. But in The Hateful Eight, there wasn't really much that made the film stand out direction wise. The Revenant however has some jaw-dropping scenes; I was scratching my head wondering how they got the camera to do some of the stuff it did. Iñárritu's camera work here is staggering, beautifully complemented by the natural lighting. This one is a no-brainer.
Winner: The Revenant
Category#2 - Script
If there's one thing that Tarantino knows how to do well, it's creating snappy, intriguing dialog. In Pulp Fiction audiences were on the edge of their seat, and the characters weren't talking about anything other than cheeseburgers or TV pilots. The Hateful Eight is full of that great dialog between interesting characters. Most of the movie is the actors talking to one another, and that is certainly not a bad thing. The Revenant, while decently paced, doesn't have a whole lot of dialog in it. Glass's struggle is powerful, but it's more compelling because of the performances and direction rather than the script.
Winner: The Hateful Eight
Category #3 - Acting
This is where this is going to get tricky. The Hateful Eight is filled with some great, interesting characters. But they can get a little outlandish at some points, sometimes becoming caricatures (Tim Roth's crazy British Oswaldo Mobray in particular). The Revenant is filled with more nuanced acting, but it's certainly not as engaging. DiCaprio is good, but maybe not great. Tom Hardy is outstanding, but his accent is hard to understand at times. This was close, but The Revenant just beats out the Eight.
Winner: The Revenant
Category #4 - Cinematography
This one is so one sided that I almost debated not including it. The Hateful Eight has some good moments, like the shots of the mountains during the beginning. But The Revenant's cinematography is just on a whole other level. Emmanuel Lubezki is one of the best DPs in the business and this movie proves it. Filmed in almost natural lighting, The Revenant looks strikingly realistic; unlike any movie I have ever seen.
Winner - The Revenant
Category #5 - Musical Score
The Hateful Eight is the first Tarantino movie to feature an original score. And the real kicker here is that it was composed by legendary Western composer Ennio Morricone; the man who scored classics like The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Morricone's score is haunting, using themes of betrayal and paranoia. The Revenant's score, by Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, is much more subtle. The music is filled with orchestral breaks and bombastic drums. While it is certainly noteworthy, there's no beating a living master like Morricone.
Winner: The Hateful Eight
Well this was a tough call, but in the end I have to give it to The Revenant, which is an incredible feat of directing on a technical level. Don't let this sway your decision from seeing The Hateful Eight however, both movies are incredibly good. I have a strong suspicion that I'll be seeing them both again in theaters sometime soon.
Which movie did you think was better? Leave comments.
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