There Will Be Blood Review

Preface

  • If you guys haven’t noticed, over the past few months I’ve tried to refrain from doing a ton of non-recent movie reviews for one of two reasons:
    • The first is that sometimes I’ll see an old movie, or at least somewhat older movie and feel a little embarrassed for having not seen it before because it’s hailed as this masterful classic and I’m not allowed to discuss movies if I haven’t seen it.
    • The second is that it’s considered SO great and so masterful that should I have anything to say about it besides, “it’s one of the greatest movies ever made,” then I could get completely berated by the entire comment section.
  • Those both apply in this case, so it should be a fun review!

Premise

  • There Will Be Blood is this very artistic, very allegorical tale about an American oil tycoon named Daniel Plainview portrayed by Daniel Day Lewis.
  • This guy is all about business, he’s all about expanding his business, and he’s all about general expansion outward.
  • And the bulk of the movie is him facing these different conflicts that arise over the course of 30 years in this oil industry, including adoption of a son, conflicts with a local religious group, and what makes this guy tick.
  • And like I said: this movie is a COMPLETE allegory, it is a very film school-ish movie that allows a lot of interpretation and it’s a very complex movie that I may have different opinions on after this review, but let’s go with it anyway!

 

Daniel Plainview

  • The cast and mostly characters are ultimately what drive this movie, mostly Daniel Plainview.
  • Daniel Plainview played by Daniel Day Lewis has been hailed as the greatest performance of the 21st century thus far.
    • Do I agree with that? No.
    • Do I think he’s maybe in the Top 20, 25 performances of the century thus far? Sure.
  • Daniel Day Lewis is a powerhouse in this movie, he is the mitochondria of There Will Be Blood. Lewis is fuelling how this entire movie comes out and the more I sit back on it, the more I realize just how much the film would have fallen apart had he not been in it or able to carry it.
    • You throw somebody like Mark Wahlberg in this role, an actor who I do like, he probably couldn’t carry it. I like Mark Wahlberg but Daniel Day Lewis absolutely positively CARRIES this entire movie.
  • And the actual character he’s playing? I’m not entirely sure if he was fictional or not, but if he is then you can tell he was based off a couple different people.
    • The character is so complex and hard to dissect because at the beginning he’s very stern and unable to really be read. You don’t know what’s going on with him and you’re like, “THIS is one of the best characters of the century, are you kidding me?”
    • But as the movie goes on he starts to lose things. The theme of loss is prevalent in this movie and Daniel Plainview becomes almost a Shylock-like character (Merchant of Venice reference, thanks sophomore English class!).
    • But ultimately, as he loses more you start to see more cracks on his forehead of his brain slowly starting to burst open. And avoiding spoilers, by the end of the movie he is completely crazy town banana pants.
  • It’s a very human story about how gain and loss define us, and how too much of one or the other can make all the difference…

Other Characters

  • Let me say, Prisoners is one of my favorite films ever made and Paul Dano in this movie is potentially better than he was in Prisoners.
  • He has two roles (which I actually didn’t figure out until both his characters had been in at least 2 scenes…) but they’re both very interesting.
  • Eli is this uber-Christian religious freak who originally seems to be defined by that one religious characteristic but as the film progresses, you start to see more and more about what makes him tick, the same way you do with Plainview.
  • It almost becomes a competition to see who we analyze more in the film: Eli or Daniel.
  • His other character Paul (ha, like the actor playing him!) is also very interesting but just didn’t feel quite as pivotal to the plot as Eli, Daniel, or the next character I’m gonna talk about. That being said, he was still a neat character who I enjoyed I just think they could have cut back on him a bit.
  • And the son in this movie, H.G. I believe is what they call him?
  • I don’t have IMDb open in front of me, but that kid playing him I guarantee has gotten and will continue to receive many phone calls for work after this movie.
    • He doesn’t have a ton to do, but in the scenes he’s in (especially later in the movie) he becomes this metaphor that’s very special and important to the character of Daniel and how the movie ultimately plays out.
  • So overall GREAT characters in this movie, some a little less important than others but fantastic development and great acting.

Writing

  • Now we move into the writing which is the part of the movie I did have a bit of an issue with.
  • I know this movie is based or loosely based upon Oil! by Upton Sinclair but I’m not familiar with just how much that story was driving this movie.
  • This film ultimately has some fat on it.
  • By that I mean, it’s 2 hours and 38 minutes. There’s some stuff in there that could be condensed or cut.
  • Something like The Wolf of Wall Street tells a somewhat similar story to this, but the 2 hour 59 minute runtime is perfect because that movie is ABOUT fat, excess, and too much of something. This is more of a story that could be told in best case 1 hour 45 minutes or worst case 2 hours 20 minutes.
  • Some of the plot points you understand but they kinda just keep beating you over the head with repetition. Granted, the repetition is important in certain parts of the movie, but the writing I feel could have been a little tidier.
  • I think the characters were expertly written and all of their interactions were done really well along with actual storyboarding and layout of what needs to happen, but the execution in the (what I imagine to be over 200 paged) script just fell a bit flat.

Direction

  • You know what wasn’t flat at all though? The direction.
  • Like I said, the movie is a bit fatty and a bit too long but other than that this direction is flawless.
  • Paul Thomas Anderson brings out these rich performances that I’ve already touched on but he also makes this feel like the earlier 20th
  • This is the best representation of the Old West that I’ve seen since Back to the Future Part III.
    • I’m a fan of Django Unchained but some of the sets in that movie look like sets and some of the filming does look (at least to me anyway) like it was done in the back of some modern town somewhere.
  • This setting is flawless. The ground is dirty, the oil looks like real oil, the period piece element is remarkable.
  • And like I said, P.T. Anderson expertly conveys the change in Daniel Plainview especially in the last act of the film, which I thought was the best part.
  • Sometimes I’ll say a movie is too artsy, like Boyhood I felt was too artsy, and Birdman (as much as I love it) did have very artsy elements to it, but There Will Be Blood has a directing style to it that makes it feel like art. Whether or not it actually is… Well that’s up to the viewer!

In Conclusion

  • In Conclusion guys, I don’t think this is the greatest movie of the century so far, nor do I think that I’ll be adding it to my Best of All Time List anytime soon.
  • What I do think though is that this is a phenomenal film with powerhouse performances especially from Lewis and highlights from Dano among others.
  • I think that the script has some big issues and that the film is ultimately too long but P.T. Anderson was setting out to make a work of art and I think he succeeds in at least some aspects.
  • I will say There Will Be Blood is A Good Time and Definitely Worth Checking Out.
  • Yeah it’s on Netflix if you have 3 hours to kill.
  • I wasn’t even going to do a review on this one actually but after stewing on it for 2 or 3 days I realized that I just really wanted to talk about it!
  • And I’ll start doing reviews for more of the classics or modern classics that I haven’t seen before if they’re worth talking about/seeing that is!

***

Well it’s ironic this is a super long movie cuz this was a super long review! Anyway, what are your guys thoughts on There Will Be Blood and do you think being artsy is a bad thing in film? Let me know in the comments down below, and as always, thanks for reading guys.

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