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DVD Reviews

HTF DVD REVIEW: There Will Be Blood: 2-Disc Collector's Edition



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#1 of 41 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted March 24 2008 - 12:02 AM


There Will Be Blood: 2-Disc Collector’s Edition
Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

Studio: Paramount
Year: 2007
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 anamorphic
Running Time: 158 minutes
Rating: R
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, French, Spanish
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
MSRP: $ 39.99

Release Date: April 8, 2008
Review Date: March 24, 2008


The Film

4/5

Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood takes a coruscating look at an ambitious, cold-hearted, and cutthroat oilman. It’s as unforgiving and unblinking as Citizen Kane in its single-minded focus on one man (though without the cinematic flourishes in writing and direction that make Kane one of the greatest of cinematic creations). Yet, despite the main character’s ruthless ambition, his lack of warmth or human mercy, director Anderson keeps our interest in the man high. Each new scene has something to reveal to us about the man’s soulless, classless roguishness.

Daniel Day-Lewis stars as Daniel Plainview, and during the course of the film, we get to see twenty-nine years of his life as he grows from a lowly mineral prospector digging by himself with jerrybuilt equipment to that of a corrupt oil baron with wealth, fame, and nothing left to live for. In many ways, you’ll think of Jett Rink from Giant (the James Dean character) whose career path seems astonishingly similar to Daniel’s. Only here, we get to see much more of the struggle for riches, the crooked deals he makes using his rich, mellifluous voice that reels in the suckers, and much more about the people he works with, works around, and mows down on his way to the top. It’s an ugly picture of a corrupt human mercenary, but just try to look away once it starts.

Writer-director Anderson touches on many of the swindles, both in the oil business and in the religious revival business, that were popular during the 1898-1927 time frame of the story. (These themes were contained in Upton Sinclair’s novel Oil! which the screenplay is freely adapted from.) To get to the religious angle, he uses the character of Eli Sunday (Paul Dano) who is Daniel’s nemesis for much of the film, a smarmy faith healer who must wait patiently to try to avenge humiliations heaped upon his family by the always too-quick Daniel. The several confrontations these two men have over the space of decades make for some truly mesmerizing viewing.

Daniel Day-Lewis won just about every award going this past season for his Daniel Plainview. It’s a showy part to be sure and a very physical one, too, requiring back-breaking labor, bodily punishment, and the need to realistically age almost thirty years. Vocally, he seems to be channeling the deep baritone speaking voice of director John Huston whose words always rolled off the tongue with such ease and intelligence. And it’s the intelligence of the acting where the performance really rises to the fore: we see the wheels turning as Daniel makes his deals, as he answers questions evasively from those he’s trying to best in his land deals. There are many highlights to the performance, but most unforgettable are the fake religious conversion sequence and his final meeting with his son H.W. (Russell Harvard), one of the most heart-rending and emotionally draining confessions in the history of movies. The final showdown with Eli will also likely leave one limp from the explosive combustion of these two enemies.

Others do get their moments to shine, even when they have to share the spotlight with always attention-getting Day-Lewis. Paul Dano gets the frustrated preacher Eli just right, even if his aging isn’t quite as believable as Day Lewis’. Dillon Freasier as the youthful incarnation of son H.W. commands attention through stillness and silence. Kevin J. O'Connor as Daniel’s brother Henry makes us a believer while Ciaran Hinds as Daniel’s second-in-command Fletcher is solid if unspectacular, due more to the writing than his performance. The character isn't delved into very deeply.

Character studies sometimes run out of steam causing viewers to tire of them before the end of the film is reached. Despite its over two-and-a-half hour running time, there is no end to the depths of explorations of the infamous Daniel Plainview. Paul Thomas Anderson has given us one of the most fascinating corrupt characters in the history of movies. There Will Be Blood is a chilling tale of a true human monster.


Video Quality

4/5

The film’s 2.35:1 Panavision aspect ratio is presented in anamorphic video. Sharpness in close-ups and medium shots is sensational, though some will be disappointed by softness in long shots. There is some aliasing in certain tight line structures (wheat fields, a wire fence), but it’s only occasional. Flesh tones are wonderfully accurate, and while the earlier scenes seem to be lighter in contrast than later ones, color overall is good. As the contrast increases, the depths of the blacks also increase so that by the final scenes, they are as rich and inky as one could hope for with excellent shadow detail as well. The film is divided into 8 “Reels” (as they‘re called on the disc).

Audio Quality

5/5

The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is a striking sound mix that will exploit your system in surprising ways for a serious drama. Explosions carry incredible power which may damage some systems if the volume level is not carefully observed before beginning the movie, while the unusual music score by Jonny Greenwood gives the rears a major workout.

Special Features

3/5

The first disc in this set contains the film only. All bonus features (which surprisingly total less than an hour) are found on the second disc in the set.

There Will Be Blood: Pics, Research, Etc.” is a 15½ minute montage of old still photographs, newspaper clippings, newsreels, and silent film which all helped the director find the look and tone for his movie. These old references are shown in counterpoint to moments in the film which reflect the look or feel of the research materials. It’s presented in anamorphic widescreen.

Two trailers for the film are offered, both in anamorphic widescreen. The teaser trailer runs 1½ minutes while the theatrical trailer runs 2 minutes.

Two deleted scenes are presented as separate bonus features. The first runs 6¼ minutes while the second runs 3¼ minutes, both in anamorphic widescreen.

One outtake running 2½ minutes features Day-Lewis and Dillon Freasier in a lengthy take with some ad-libbing that eventually breaks both of them up. It is also presented in anamorphic widescreen.

The longest bonus feature is The Story of Petroleum, a 26½ minute silent film (with a new score by Jonny Greenwood) made in 1923. It follows the route of petroleum products from the initial surveying of land for drilling through the discovery of oil, its being piped to a tank, its refinery into various products, and the transportation to a sales destination. Several clips from this film were instrumental in Paul Thomas Anderson’s ideas about the look of his movie.

In Conclusion

4/5 (not an average)

There Will Be Blood is a warts-and-all fictional screen biography of a ruthless but strangely compelling businessman. It’s long, but it’s never dull, and it features terrific performances and a period look that’s sheer perfection. For admirers of serious drama, it’s a definite winner.


Matt Hough
Charlotte, NC

[PG]118355304[/PG]

#2 of 41 OFFLINE   Joseph J.D

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Posted March 24 2008 - 01:31 AM

Excellent review Matt....that review really makes me want to pick this one up. However, I will wait for the inevitable Blu-ray release. I'm sure when Paramount actually starts releasing BDs again, that this will likely be one of their first releases given it's high profile. Hopefully the transfer problems pointed out in this release will be improved.
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#3 of 41 ONLINE   TravisR

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Posted March 24 2008 - 01:53 AM

Nice review, Matt! I loved this movie so I can't wait to pick it up.

This is a rare time where I'll pick up the DVD eventhough I'm sure the Blu Ray will be out in a few months. There's other titles that are probably locks for a quick Blu Ray release that I'll just wait for (like Sweeney Todd) but not this one. Posted Image

#4 of 41 OFFLINE   oscar_merkx

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Posted March 24 2008 - 05:03 AM

There were times when I thought that the Preacher outplayed DDL several times.
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#5 of 41 OFFLINE   LarryH

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Posted March 24 2008 - 01:22 PM

Unless someone first weeks this one for $16 or less, I guess I'll wait for a high-def release.

#6 of 41 OFFLINE   JonZ

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Posted March 24 2008 - 01:46 PM

LOVE that cover as well. So nice to not see a floating head.

#7 of 41 OFFLINE   Aragorn the Elfstone

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Posted March 24 2008 - 02:45 PM

The extras don't interest me much (and I'll be transferring the disc to a standard keepcase due the cardboard slot thing - thus the packaging won't be worth it), so I think I'll go for the 1 disc. It's a shame - this was one of my favorite films last year; I wish it had something in the way of substantial documentary material.

But in this instance, the movie is really all that matters - and since I'm not into hi-def media, the one disc is a no-brainer. Posted Image

#8 of 41 OFFLINE   Bonedwarf

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Posted March 24 2008 - 06:14 PM

I'm glad I didn't see the movie until 2008. Otherwise "Hot Fuzz" may very well have been displaced as my favourite movie of 2007. I am astonished that "No Country For Old Men" won best picture over this, I really am. I liked "No Country", but it was disposable entertainment. Fun story, move on, largely forgettable for the most part.

"There Will Be Blood" has stayed with me more than any movie I've seen in a long time. It has seeped into my subconcious and I find myself thinking about it a lot. The story, Day-Lewis' stunning performance etc... I keep talking about the movie so much that my six year old son wants to see it, despite my repeated assurances he would find it INCREDIBLY boring.

Definitely buying this on release day. (Assuming I can find the two disker, which around where I live isn't always a possibility, and this not the sort of film most of the slack jawed yokels around here would be into.)

Thanks for the review.

Oh yeah, and throw in another vote for the cover. Wonderfully artistic.

#9 of 41 OFFLINE   Jacob McCraw

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Posted March 26 2008 - 02:41 AM

Put me down as another who will wait for the Blu-Ray.

#10 of 41 OFFLINE   Bleddyn Williams

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Posted March 26 2008 - 04:10 AM

Deeply disappointed in the cancelling of the HD DVD. Will try to resist buying this in SD by renting from NetFlix and try to hold on for the blu.

#11 of 41 OFFLINE   Matt Fig

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Posted March 26 2008 - 04:54 AM

Very good and helpful review Matt. I will definitely be renting this one. I will also wait for the BD version to buy. I liked DDL in "Gangs of New York", it kind of puts me in the mind of that.

#12 of 41 OFFLINE   Lord Dalek

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Posted March 26 2008 - 07:32 AM

Unless you're unwilling to go region free, a BD of There Will Be Blood will be coming out on June 9th in Denmark.

#13 of 41 OFFLINE   Felix Martinez

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Posted March 26 2008 - 10:39 AM

The cover looks like a Criterion release. That is a huge compliment BTW.

#14 of 41 OFFLINE   JakeLip

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Posted March 27 2008 - 01:50 PM

Thanks very much for the review. This movie is one of the best that I've ever seen. I am Blu-ray equipped, but the movie was just so astonishing that I can't imagine not owning it as soon as possible because I want to see it over and over and over again. So I will (a little reluctantly) knowingly double dip to have it now and later when Paramount finally starts releasing Blu-ray editions. However, nothing in the the light slate of bonus features seems to merit more than one viewing, so I will probably pass on the 2-disc version and just go for the single. I have always gotten the features-loaded edition previously, but I would expect that all of its features will be carried over to the Blu-ray release. So, since there's nothing in the way of truly extensive making-of content, I don't feel the need to throw an additional $6 or so at Paramount for the extras right now. I would have if it were a little more loaded with compelling content, but there's no need for that. Are you listening, Paramount? We want the Blu-ray version, with all of these extras and more, as soon as possible.

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#15 of 41 OFFLINE   Tim RP

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Posted March 27 2008 - 09:33 PM

The lack of anything resembling behind the scenes/making of content on this dvd has nothing to do with Paramount and everything to do with Paul Thomas Anderson.

#16 of 41 OFFLINE   Reggie W

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Posted March 30 2008 - 06:11 AM

This is a great film but the special features are very underwhelming. This is the second feature I was interested in purchasing (Into the Wild being the first) to come out recently as a two disc set that really does not bring any extra value with the second disc.

About all I'd like to see are the deleted scenes and the outtake. The rest I really don't care about. The previous PTA pictures released on dvd were very nice sets, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, and even Punch Drunk Love. I sort of imagine that this "collector's edition" is going to be replaced with something more substantial in the future. This is a film that will be revisited and I would say they will be giving it more attention the next time around.

#17 of 41 ONLINE   TravisR

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Posted March 30 2008 - 08:31 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Reggie W
About all I'd like to see are the deleted scenes and the outtake. The rest I really don't care about. The previous PTA pictures released on dvd were very nice sets, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, and even Punch Drunk Love. I sort of imagine that this "collector's edition" is going to be replaced with something more substantial in the future. This is a film that will be revisited and I would say they will be giving it more attention the next time around.
Boogie Nights and Magnolia had a decent number of features but not Punch Drunk Love. It's been a while since I watched the second disc of PDL but I remember thinking that there were so few features that they could have fit everything on one disc* (especially since the movie runs about 90 or 100 minutes). To me, it seems like P.T. Anderson lost interest in special features after Magnolia and this is the best There Will Be Blood will get.

*I know it was a Superbit disc so they didn't want the features to take away from the movie's bitrate.

#18 of 41 OFFLINE   Yumbo

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Posted April 07 2008 - 12:33 PM

Would I be a rare person not to like this movie?

The opening was unusual.
The score was annoying.
And we had to wait till the ending for the title to reveal itself.

Watching The Kite Runner afterwards was such a reward for its sincerity more than anything else.

Having to switch on subtitles was also a doozy.

#19 of 41 OFFLINE   Marc Colella

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Posted April 07 2008 - 12:48 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by TravisR
Boogie Nights and Magnolia had a decent number of features but not Punch Drunk Love. It's been a while since I watched the second disc of PDL but I remember thinking that there were so few features that they could have fit everything on one disc* (especially since the movie runs about 90 or 100 minutes). To me, it seems like P.T. Anderson lost interest in special features after Magnolia and this is the best There Will Be Blood will get.

*I know it was a Superbit disc so they didn't want the features to take away from the movie's bitrate.

The sad thing is the movie disc for PDL only took 5.99GB of space and the Supplemental disc took up a paltry 1.82GB. It didn't require a 2-disc edition since the contents of the 1st and 2nd disc could've easily fit on just one disc.

The joys of the SuperBIT scam. I wouldn't expect anything less from Sony.

#20 of 41 OFFLINE   Tim_C

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Posted April 07 2008 - 02:43 PM

Quote:
Would I be a rare person not to like this movie?
I'd daresay that a majority of the people who watched it really liked it, but there were a fair amount who didn't like it. So no, you're not "rare."

I for one loved this film, and I consider the score to be one of the best aspects of it (and one of my favorite film scores in many years)... Go figure. I also loved the ending. And the beginning. And everything in between. But that's just me. Posted Image

I did love "The Kite Runner" too, and consider it one of the most underrated films of last year (although I don't understand the "sincerity" thing - both films seemed equally sincere to me.)

Anyways, excellent review, and I can't wait to pick this up as soon as possible. I'm a sucker for cool packaging so I'll probably end up getting the 2-disc version - even though I don't have much interest in the extras.

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