"There Will Be Blood" Blu-ray Review
June 11, 2008 by Zach Demeter
Another one of 2007ís films that garnered an enormous amount of critical praise and one of the last to arrive on DVD, There Will Be Blood was no box office smash but was perhaps one of the most well-reviewed live action films from all of 2007. With a rating of over ninety percent on Rotten Tomatoes, itís clear that between the Oscar wins of Daniel Day Lewis for best actor and Robert Elswit for best cinematography and the critical praise, There Will Be Blood was one of the years strongest films.
Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day Lewis) is an oil man. He and his son, H.W. (Dillon Freasier) go from town to town, buying up land and draining the oil out of it. Plainview is always open to new prospects thatíll lead him to the next big oil field and when Paul Sunday (Paul Dano) arrives at his door with word that there is oil in Little Boston, California. Plainview arrives, surveys the area and begins to buy up the land in the town so that he can begin drilling. The fledgling town, incapable of even growing crops for bread, is eager to allow Plainview to develop his oil fields there, as itíll help the town begin to prosper. What Daniel doesnít count on in this town, however, is Paulís twin brother, Eli, the preacher of the town, being as dedicated to his line of work as Daniel.
The one issue Iíve had with films in 2007 that as good as some of them were, the ones nominated for ďBest PictureĒ really werenít that impressive to me. Not to say I didnít at least enjoy all of them (except Michael Clayton), but they were hardly something Iíd consider to be the best of that the year had to offer. With There Will Be Blood I wasnít so much surprised by the high percentage of positive reviews it received, as it is a very good film, so much as how much buzz those reviews caused. I actually went into There Will Be Blood feeling unexcited as I knew what my anticipation did for the other Oscar nominations that I watched. With There Will Be Blood I found a remarkable film, but nothing that I could ever see myself watching again.
Some will say the film was boring, but it wasnít so much boring as it was slow paced. There was a lot to take in, even during the slow sequences, so much so that I found myself rather enthralled with the opening of the film which was completely dialog free for the first eight minutes. Even though the film approached three hours, I never felt the need to check the clock, which tells me it was an entertaining film. What Iím basically trying to say is that yes, the film is good, but itís nowhere near as good as the majority of the reviews would lead you to believe.
To me, at least, I find myself wondering how I keep watching these critically acclaimed films and finding them always coming up short. Either my taste in movies is a lot less refined than I would have thought or these movies really are just a bit overblown with praise. Again, not to say There Will Be Blood is a bad film, I just fail to see what makes it so much better than other films from this year, especially ones that werenít nominated at all or for much (3:10 To Yuma, Iím looking at you).
Focusing on the film itself Iím actually rather surprised that Paul Dano wasnít nominated for an Oscar for his performance in this film. I was really underwhelmed by what Daniel Day Lewis had to offer aside from a sequence where he yelled excessively and his performances with Dano were really the greatest element of the film from an acting standpoint. The final showdown at the end of the film is quite intense and until it played out I wondered where the filmís title even came from.
Also worth noting was the score for the film. While it was mostly what one would call ďelevator musicĒ or some sort of upscale restaurant or grocery music, it fit the film so well and at times it was so haunting that it really emphasized the film in ways that nothing else could. I was rather amused, however, at the end of the film when the music began to play after the big dramatic finale; I say I was amused because the music was so upbeat that I actually started to laugh, something Iím not sure was intentional. Accompanied by the score were some wonderfully cinematic shots of the undeveloped land in the United States in the 1900s. The shot of the flaming oil field at night was breathtaking to watch and the directing done for the church sequences with Dano as Sunday were impressive to watch both from an acting and visual standpoint.
Overall the film, while not nearly as mindblowing as one would be lead to believe, is a very strong film about an oil tycoon who slowly begins to lose everything. The separation from his son after an accident leaves his son deaf is heart wrenching to watch, but when you begin to realize that despite touting family as a big thing in his life, he slowly begins to care less and less about it and more about the oil. Itís a sad story, but with such a violent ending itís hard to feel good about any of it. Itís a very interesting movie to watch about a certain time period and definitely one that still feels relevant to this day with our dependence on oil. Itís a strong film and itís going to sound odd to Recommend it after complaining about the critical acclaim, but it really is worth seeing. Just lower your expectations as low as they can go as it is by no means the best film youíll ever seeóbut it is a good one.
Unlike other studios who have started to port their libraries over to the high-definition Blu-ray format, Paramount has seen fit to take all of the extras from their previous releases and make their releases truly the ďultimateĒ there is, unlike some other studios (I wonít say who specifically, but it rhymes with ďFox.Ē) In addition to putting all of the extras from the two-disc edition on here (which admittedly isnít much), Paramount has also mixed it up by including a new cover for the DVD. In the event you donít like this new art over the previous two-disc edition, donít worryóthey printed the old cover art on the reverse of the insert, so you can simply flip it over if you so desire. A neat little bonusÖnot sure why they did it, but itís a cool bonus and one Iím surprisingly impressed by for some reason; in any case aside from an insert with art and images from the film included (again, not sure why this is in here either), the rest of the set is the same. Disc art is the same and the menus are the same, complete with the exact same setupÖno pop-up menus, they load just like the DVD edition.
Moving onto the high definition portion we get to see what really makes this release sparkle. As expected the VC-1 encoded transfer for There Will Be Blood is pristine, with a level of clarity that will, at times, remind you why you plunked down so much cash to be able to watch this format in the first place. The details on faces, the field depth and just an overall astonishing clarity accompany almost all of the sequences in the film. Wood detail, close-up of documents being signed and just about every other element of the film looks absolutely remarkable.
While the video is a huge step above the previous DVD release, the audio really isnít. Thatís not a big surprise considering the film doesnít really boast a powerful track anyway; itís just cleaner and louder. The track rarely makes an impact while viewing, but the score and dialogue all comes through loud and clear. Overall the 1080p and Dolby TrueHD portions are definitely worth checking.
A set of deleted scenes that total near thirteen minutes total; most of the scenes show Daniel spending more time with his son, which I honestly feel should have been left in the film; the film already had a leisurely pace, so itís not like it wouldíve hurt any to have more character sequences in it. A segment called ď15 MinutesĒ (15:35) shows off pictures and research done for the film and ďStory of PetroleumĒ (25:31) is a silent film created in 1923 to educate the world about the history of oil. The extra has new music provided by There Will Be Blood composer Jonny Greenwood.
And thatís it. No making-of, no cast and crew interviews, no nothiní. Its odd how little there is to see on this two disc editionÖso little in fact Iíd have to recommend picking up the single disc edition. The deleted scenes, while nice to see, really arenít going to add too much to the film unless you somehow watch them integrated back in and the fifteen minutes of images and research done for the film isnít terribly interesting either. The only fun extra is the 1923 silent film, but thatís partly more for nostalgia reasons than anything to do with the film.
If youíre a fan of the film then this edition comes Recommended. With two-disc and single disc editions having been available on DVD for some time now, itís likely those who enjoyed the film will have already added it to their collections. Whether you upgrade to this edition will really just depend on how much you enjoyed the film. It certainly looks and sounds like it belongs on Blu-ray, but the limited extras still sting as there isnít much to check out after viewing the film. Should you not own one of the previous editions, then this will be the one to have in your collection.
There Will Be Blood is now available on Blu-ray.