There Will Be Blood

January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Paul Thomas Anderson has made a few of my most-watched movies of the last decade. Before “There Will Be Blood” Anderson was most widely-known for 1997’s “Boogie Nights” in which rising star Mark Wahlberg took on the role that literally made him a star. “Boogie Nights” was and still is a great movie and I think was far ahead of its time and it showed the true power of Anderson as both a writer and director. This was followed a few years later with the very unique “Magnolia” about a family with loosely interweaving stories and a character study in the most extreme form. Anderson’s script gave Tom Cruise another Oscar nomination and though the movie polarized viewers, I still find it intriguing. His 2002 film “Punch Drunk Love” will most likely be remembered for one thing: getting Adam Sandler to actually act. Sandler, usually known for his slapstick comedy roles took on a much darker character here and with very good results. Any director that can put an edge on Adam Sandler is someone to take note of for sure. So it’s with his latest work that Anderson was finally recognized for his current and past efforts. “There Will Be Blood” is an off-beat movie for Anderson, one that still deals with family but set against the backdrop of the turn of the 20th century oil prospectors. It garnered Daniel Day-Lewis his second Academy Award and was nominated for Best Picture as well. How good is it, you ask?

We meet Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) as a struggling silver miner in 1898. He learns that there’s more money in oil and when a young man comes to him and makes him an offer he can’t refuse, he and his son (Dillon Freasier) pack up and move to Little Boston, California. Daniel makes outlandish promises to the citizens, promising to build churches and schools that will help the townspeople. All the while, the promise of oil is making him rich and powerful beyond his wildest dreams. As his wealth increases, so does his desire to see others fail and his controlling nature gets the best of him. He abandons his son after an accident that leaves him deaf and even murders those that lie to him. A nice man he isn’t, but I have to venture that people like this existed during this time period and this was the way things got done and fortunes were made. The story follows Daniel’s rise to power an the ensuing results of his actions towards others. We’re led to believe that he’s Howard Hughes, though his inner-demons might eventually get the best of him.

“There Will Be Blood” is a most interesting and intriguing movie and I fully agree with it’s nomination for Best Picture. I think the winner, “No Country for Old Men” was the right choice, but at the very least this really put writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson on the map. Anderson’s way of telling a story is unlike anyone else’s out there and his choice of music is as much a character in the movie as anything else. The film also won an Academy Award for Best Cinematography, another well-deserved nod to the movie. At nearly two and a half hours, the movie does take a considerable investment but Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance is one of the better I’ve seen in quite some time. Fans of Anderson will love this latest effort and I can only hope it’s not another five years until his next feature.

Video: How does it look?

As of this writing, Paramount isn’t currently producing any HD DVD’s or Blu-ray movies. I’m sure once they get their ducks in a row, we’ll once again be presented with Paramount titles on Blu-ray but for the time being I had to watch “There Will Be Blood” on a standard DVD format (boo hoo, I know). The 2.40:1 anamorphic image makes the most of the screen and the majority of the color palette used contains many earthy tones. Lots of browns and blacks compose the frame and though this gives way to some artifacting in certain scenes, it’s not as bad as I’d have thought. After nearly two years of watching HD DVD’s and Blu-ray movies (as well as most of my TV on HD) there really is a difference when the resolution is bumped down to 480 lines. By no means is this bad and the movie comes equipped as a two-disc special edition leaving the movie on the first disc. Aside from a little edge enhancement in a few places, this is a good-looking transfer but hopefully Paramount gets on the ball and releases it on Blu-ray in the near future.

Audio: How does it sound?

There’s not a whole lot on the audio front in the film, sure there’s scenes that do make use of all 5.1 channels, but the majority of the movie is all dialogue. And that’s fine as it sounds very clear. Lewis’ character has somewhat of the same flat accent that his character did in “Gangs of New York”, making it hard to place. The score is something that really took me by surprise as several scenes feature classical music that really heighten the mood with the cello’s adding some tension to the already tense scenes. Though “There Will Be Blood” won’t be truly remembered for the sound, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack doesn’t sound bad in the least.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Like their recent “Into the Wild” two-disc special edition, there’s not really a whole lot in terms of supplements. A few deleted and extended scenes are shown and mixed in are the teaser and theatrical trailer. Most noteworthy is a vintage documentary on oil produced by the U.S. Government that runs 26 minutes. It’s been updated with a new score and educates the viewer on the process to drill for and process oil. I was disappointed by the lack of a commentary track as Anderson has given some good ones in the past. Perhaps when a more robust edition comes out, we’ll get one of those.

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