There Will Be Blood Blu-ray Movie Review


By Don Lindich and Lance Rhinehart






By Don Lindich

Set in the California desert in the early 1900s and based loosely on Upton Sinclair’s Oil!, There Will Be Blood recounts the rise of oilman Daniel Plainview, portrayed by Daniel Day-Lewis in an Academy Award-winning performance. Plainview’s personal nature is as dark and slimy as the crude he extracts from the ground, building his empire through ruthless manipulation of others he holds in contempt for their simple nature, as he shows little personal decency or respect for ethical or moral boundries- a sociopath at the core. His foil is Eli Sunday (Paul Dano), a young preacher with a lot of ambition of his own and a manipulative nature as well. There is a palpable hatred between the two as they clash on many levels, including a scene where Plainview pins Sunday as he shows they are in many ways more alike than not.


Plainview’s devoted young son, H.W., accompanies him as they build the “family-owned business.” Plainview’s relationship with his son does much to define him, in a way similar to his relationship with Sunday. One can’t help but feel sorry for him multiple times throughout the film, though as a child of wealth one would think that leads to a life of pleasure and luxury. It doesn’t, because in this movie all that matters is the satisfaction of Daniel Plainview’s ambition and desires.

Though I am a big fan of movies that make you think and have complex characters, I had a bit of trouble getting my arms around this movie (though The Doctor seemed to have little difficulty.) There Will Be Blood defies description and stands as as unique piece of American filmmaking. My main criticism is that despite the engaging characters and terrific acting, the story seems to plod somewhat from about halfway until the last few scenes. When all was revealed I sat back and thought, “Wow… despite that seeming to drag on for a while, it was totally worth it.”

Picture and Sound

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately reviewing Paramount’s latest Blu-ray efforts and they really have their house in order. Technical quality of this Blu-ray Disc is top notch, with a very sharp, yet filmlike presentation with depth, detail and deep, dark blacks. Lossless Dolby TrueHD sound accompanies the pristine video and renders everything from dialouge to the sound of oil exploration flawlessly.

Despite the technical excellence of the disc itself, the desert landscape and stark imagery used through much of the movie does not have a wide color palette that make things jump off your screen and wow and impress. While this Blu-ray disc is not likely to be one you choose to show off your system, it wasn’t really meant to be demo material, but strong drama. The power of the film lies in the story and strong performances of its actors, not eye-popping visuals or sound- though the sound has tremendous impact when it is supposed too. It does not stick out in any way… it’s just there and it is accurate, and it draws you in and allows you to concentrate on the storyline and the characters. The realism of Blu-ray helps make you feel like you are there.


There Will Be Blood has a minimalist, simply-designed menu that complements the nature of the film perfectly- just a choice of selections rendered in text at the bottom of the menu screen. It’s almost disappointing when you first see it, but later you realize it is a perfect match to the film.


This Blu-ray Disc is somewhat sparse on the extras, consisting of a few deleted scenes, two trailers, and a short silent documentary from 1926 called Petroleum.


This is a very cerebral film that can move slowly at times and won’t appeal to everyone. If you love drama, studies of the human condition, and seeing some of the very worst of humanity exposed in a perfectly executed setting of the times, There Will Be Blood is sure to satisfy. This is a film everyone should see once, and one that belongs in the Blu-ray collection of lovers of drama and fine acting.




By Lance Rhinehart


Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) and Eli Sunday (Paul Dano) take great pleasure in making sure that those around them see things their way. Unfortunately, Daniel and Eli do not see eye to eye. Never really sure who to entitle with protagonist or antagonist, the two characters push and yield to the will of the other. A true dual in the literal, as well as in the figurative – order from chaos, treasure from trash, and life from death act as the driving theme (as they are one and the same) for this film.

There Will Be Blood frames itself as a narrative of dualities in perpetual confrontation, namely the conflict between the industry of spirit and the salvation of wealth. Set mainly in the post civil War, turn-of-the-century Californian desert, the near lifeless dust-scape yields either desperation or delicious delirium for the oil barrens who prospect for crude, and must often drill not only into the earth for its viscous blood, but must also drill into the very spirit of the communities that inhabit the land. Blood spills forth across gritty desert skin as a freshly dark ooze and reminds viewers that as blood reveals proof of life, when seen, it testifies to the coming of death.


Aptly titled, the first few scenes offer viewers cinematic and even literary glimpses into the conflict-harmony struggle that underscores everything about this film. Peaceful and anticipatory silence splits with a sudden cacophony of mistuned anxiety. The metronomic lull of a long fuse suddenly explodes before expectation can catch awareness. In turn as the plot chronicles the development of an oil man’s tenacity and clever persuasion, it simultaneously spins with, and against, an ambitious preacher’s pathological, and well-dissembled pride. And as with most duals of traditional nature, the two must inevitably become one by the destruction of the other. The two oppositions make one dual, and recognition of the two out of one is only possible by their opposing force. Simply put, something’s got to give. In Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood, viewers come to terms with the notion that anticipation ended yields relief, and relief is not as much about the results so much as it is about the end of the anticipation itself.

So by and large, There Will Be Blood could have been called There Must Be Blood, because this film demonstrates with an oddly satisfying cruelty, the most basic lesson in being human, that in each of us, the pearls and the swine must always remain together, otherwise we wouldn’t know the one from the other, and more importantly we wouldn’t have the sublime luxury of choosing which one to cast first. The film disturbs and delights without apology…it’s worth thinking about.

And of course while one contemplates the dynamic nature of contrast, it stands to fairness and reason that the medium itself must reveal the underscored theme in the film. As if on queue, and as briefly mentioned, the silent serenity of some scenes is not simply interrupted, but interrupted with an audible impact brought about by the flawless Blu-ray audio quality. In other words, deep silence against not just noise but an unrehearsed collection of particulate sound entities simultaneously, yet individually discernable to the average ear equates to a very special kind of…“noise.” It’s as if the music score itself were reminding viewers that they had better beware, because like it or not, placid serenity of any kind is transient, and usually, it’s broken when least expected…or worse, after the anxiety has become commonplace. A backdrop sense of dread changes suddenly to the foreground, and viewers understand all too clearly why their fear instinct had been on alert. When the aesthetic distance in this film closes for the viewer, the visual and the audible composition in There Will Be Blood work very well in tandem to keep him off guard and wanting harmony. Without doubt the technology advances the artistic range of expression and the age-old quest for prime entertainment.

Entertainment asks much of an audience in these highly defined, Blu-ray times of ours. A film like this one would no more show its face upon the screen without superb attention to detail like a 1920’s haircut and the authentic instruments of its making or a well-assembled oil derrick rigged to convey not only a captured historicity in the construction, but also an aridly weathered and industrially textured wood framing, than a modern day viewer of educated stock would dare show up to his job interview without the proper perquisites and research in place. And as all actions still seem to have their opposite and equal reactions, the audience feels no shame in asking much of its entertainment in return. There Will Be Blood proudly shows its cards with a confident grimace of knowing no one currently at the table holds a better hand, and it certainly deigns to offer the audience an insight into what happens when precise erudition meets advanced audio visual quality. Even the extra features, fantail an image of recapturing a somewhat esoteric history of oil while offering the refined viewer a testimony that movies and critical thinking skills are fun and natural playmates.

Squib, go-devil, casinghead gas…What are they? They are a sampling of oil industry jargon explained and examined in crystal, black and white clarity as a specially featured documentary that offers viewers an additional depth of understanding to the more subtle yet significant details that often make or break a film of this sort. They are invisible details which consequently act as their most important feature. Because if a viewer tends to notice detail distracting to the story itself, the detail has not blended in to the aesthetics of the setting naturally enough to simply be accepted as real…and therefore invisible. This film does not have that problem.

All told, if you as a viewer want a film that offers more than the sum of its parts, generates emotional responses that are not easily navigable, yields to personal perceptions of situational ethics, and brings with it a technology that delivers the former with no apology but with beaming pride in itself, then you will likely want this film added to your cerebral collection, not to mention your Blu-ray shelf stock.

Buy the Blu-ray Disc of There Will Be Blood from Amazon and save!

Buy the DVD of There Will Be Blood from Amazon and save!

Comments are closed.