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September 2, 2008
There Will Be Blood Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
9/2/200812/8/2008Walt DisneyPaul Thomas Anderson
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
VC-1Linear PCM 4.6MbpsMDaniel Day-Lewis

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Daniel Day-Lewis as Daniel Plainview.
There Will Be Blood is the based upon the 1927 novel Oil! by writer and satirist Upton Sinclair. Having never read the book I can't comment upon what is, and isn't, accurately portrayed here, but what we do have is a delightful, epic, movie about the early years of oil exploration and drilling.

The story chronicles the life and times of one Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis), who transforms himself from a down and out silver miner raising a son on his own into a self-made oil tycoon. When Plainview gets a mysterious tip off that there's a little town out West where an ocean of oil is oozing out of the ground, he heads with his son, H.W. (Dillon Freasier), to take their chances in dust worn Little Boston. In this hardscrabble town, where the main excitement centers around the holy roller church of charismatic preacher Eli Sunday (Paul Dano), Plainview and H.W. make their lucky strike.

But even as the well raises all of their fortunes, nothing will remain the same as conflicts escalate and every human value - love, hope, community, belief, ambition and even the bond between father and son - is imperiled by corruption, deception and the flow of oil.

When a movie wins two Academy Awards (Daniel Day-Lewis for Best Actor, Robert Elswit Best Achievement in Cinematography) and is nominated for a further six include Best Motion Picture it comes as little surprise that this is, without question, an exceptional movie. So what is this movie all about then? Sure, it's about one mans greed in becoming one of the biggest, and richest, oil drillers, but it also looks at the desires for religion and the battles with capitalism as a result.

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Traveling the lands to find oil.
Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnolia) There Will Be Blood is so not a Hollywood movie. There isn't the 'three act' structure of the majority of movies. There isn't the typical 'Hollywood' ending. Hell. it takes well over 15 minutes before the first words are even spoken!

The way in which the early oil exploration and drilling fields are brought to life in this movie is simply superb. The attention to detail (as covered in the extras on this disc) is superb and you really do get a sense of 'being there'. Dialogue is stunning, from Plainview's opening speech to convince a town to let him drill for oil there, to "I drink your milkshake" at the finale.

Where I think this movie falls down ever so slightly is in the final scenes. I don't want to spoil it but it is not only rather abrupt, but doesn't really give you that glowing, satisfying, ending that this movie could have ended on. I'm not saying that everything has to be perfect - and I'm generally not a fan of the Hollywood ending - but the ending here doesn't quite sit well with me. Some may also find the slow-paced nature of this movie a little off putting. With a runtime of 156 minutes this is more like an epic movie then regular theatre fare.

But don't get me wrong, There Will Be Blood is a wonderful movie with superb acting, cinematography and script that surpasses almost everything else released during 2007. Daniel Day-Lewis is truly deserving of his Oscar, and so is the Oscar for Cinematography. Having said that this isn't a movie you would re-watch too often for 'entertainment', but it is one which I will return to several times to pick up small tidbits missed on previous viewings.

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Meeting the other parishioners.

There Will Be Blood comes to Blu-Ray encoded in the films original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 in 1080p using the VC-1 codec. Given that the movie runs for 156 minutes the image quality on this disc is very impressive. The movie is, for the most part, rather stark in its use of colours with the dusty blandness of the oilfields, dirt covered minors, and rather dull work clothes to be seen from start to finish. This transfer though handles this intentional look perfectly with wonderful detail in both background and foreground objects.

Sadly, during the darker scenes the level of grain is quite high, and certainly noticeable, while the blackest blacks never reach that depth one would expect. Still, for such a long movie this is a fine effort and substantially improved over the DVD release.

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Paul Dano is brilliant as Eli Sunday.

There Will Be Blood includes two English tracks - a Linear PCM 5.1 track at 4.6Mbps as well as a Dolby Digital 5.1 track at 640kbps. Both of these tracks offer fine representations of the original source material, however the Linear PCM track offers the best fidelity with slightly clearer effects and dialogue. This movie is very dialogue driven so the use of surround sound and sub woofer is a little on the light side.

Even more important then the dialogue though is the wonderful music composed for the movie by Jonny Greenwood (yes, he of Radiohead fame!). It is haunting, dramatic and perfectly suited to the movie and really makes this an audio experience. This is especially true when you consider that large sections of the movie (including the first 15 minutes or more) are totally devoid of any dialogue.

Other audio options on this disc include an English Descriptive Audio presented in 192kbps 2-channel sound. Spanish, Portuguese, Russian and Polish Dolby Digital 5.1 640kbps tracks are also available, as well as a Indonesian (we think) 192kbps Dolby Digital 2.0 track.

Subtitles are provided in English and English for the Hearing Impaired and from brief samplings each seems accurate to dialogue o screen.

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Daniel Day-Lewis is deserving of his Oscar.

For such a big movie in terms of critical praise I was a little disappointed in the extras provided on this Blu-Ray disc. Still there are some here worth checking out if you have some spare time...

There Will Be Blood - Pics, Research, Etc. (15:35/HD): This featurette looks at original archival photographs and footage and then shows how closely the filmmakers have copied the look and style of the early 1900's (and it is very close!).

The Story of Petroleum (25:33/HD): This was probably the most interesting extra included on this Blu-Ray disc. Made in 1923-1927 this silent movie (some orchestral music has been added to this Blu-Ray release) is actually an informational look at drilling, extracting and processing oil. The film is filled with footage from the oil fields, and while around 80 years old it still relevant to today. A fascinating look at the industry and a wonderful inclusion on the disc.

Deleted Scenes (9:21/HD): 'Fishing' and 'Haircut' make up the two deleted scenes here and they are prese4nted in the same high quality on Blu-Ray as the feature movie. Fishing in particular is interesting in showing even more of the drilling for oil.

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Sitting around the oil fields in There Will Be Blood.
Teaser (1:24/HD): The teaser trailer for There Will Be Blood. Short, captivating and to the point.

Trailer (2:12/HD): The full trailer for There Will Be Blood which shows off many of the more 'intense scenes' from the movie.

Daily's Gone Wild (2:48/HD): An alternate version of the scene with Daniel Plainview going off at businessmen in the bar. More great acting from Daniel Day-Lewis.

There Will Be Blood is a great period movie with superb acting, direction and cinematography. It's not the most 'enjoyable' movie to watch, but is worth spending the time on. Throw in a solid transfer and some decent extras and you have a Blu-Ray title worth checking out.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Walt Disney. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.