This is the third entry in my 2008 movie reviews, as always, there will probably be spoilers contained herein.
I knew we were in trouble when the first line of dialog did not occur until 15 minutes into the movie.
The much lauded There Will Be Blood by P. T. Anderson was by my account wholly disappointing. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. First a little synopsis. The movie centers on a driven oil prospector and driller Daniel Plainview in the early 20th century. He is approached by a fresh faced kid who says his family ranch has oil, and for a price he’d tell him where it was. Long story short, Daniel and his son (and partner, H.W.) arrive at the ranch in California, convince the local yokels to all agree to let him drill by promising them prosperity, and bread. Obviously, you would have to imagine not all goes smoothly, and hurdles are presented by a local preacher and twin brother of the kid who put this all in motion.
Now, you have probably seen the same trailer I did. I was apparently expecting a different movie. I thought it would be an epic battle between this kid preacher and the unscrupulous oil man. Back and forth. Equally matched. An with a title like There Will Be Blood, one might expect casualties on both sides. Unfortunately, the actual movie was nothing like that.
First, the positives. Daniel Day-Lewis is an amazing actor. Even if this portrayal was remarkably close to his role in Gangs of New York. He is still fantastic to watch. I can fully see why he won the Oscar. I can’t disagree with that at all.
Second, the cinematography was fabulous. They really captured the desert west in an amazing way. There were also some long tracking shots which established that perhaps even the scenery was a character in the flick.
That’s it. That’s what was good. The bad? Everything else.
Namely, the movie was boring. I mean, the typical plot structure of introduction, rising action, climax just didn’t happen. Sure, things happened. Yes, they propelled what plot there was. But they never seemed to go anywhere. This pretty much served to turn this into a 2:38 character study. I think it might have been better served if they had trimmed 40 minutes from it.
For example, the expected struggle between the preacher and the oil man never gets off the ground. Daniel pretty much has his way with Eli (the preacher), to the point when Eli came seeking the $5000 his church was owed. He asks in his haughty way, and Daniel proceeds to haul off and slap him in the face and then kick his ass into the mud. Daniel Day-Lewis being who he is, I would bet that wasn’t a “movie slap” either. What does Eli do to retaliate? All he does is go home and blame his “stupid” father for allowing this drilling to happen and his “stupid” brother for bringing it all here. Speaking of which, after seeing Eli’s brother Paul start the entire plot, we never see him again. He just disappears. He is mentioned twice, but that is it. It got to the point where I was starting if the movie was going to throw us a twist and say that the Paul and Eli were actually the same person and the preaching was all just a fraud. Of course that didn’t happen, since that would have actually been part of a real plot. Plus, with a title like There Will Be Blood, I think you probably need a body count higher than 4 (two of which were ancillary characters without a line in the movie). I’m sorry, there are Disney flicks with higher body counts.
I also have to say, the music in this movie was horrible. It was very disjointed and annoying. At times, it was like harsh violins repeating the same 2 or 3 notes over and over to the point where it felt like a cheese grater on your brain. Other times it sounded like a circle of hippies banging pots and pans together over and over for 20 minutes. Ugh. Let’s just say, I don’t think this soundtrack will be a big seller, at least not to me.
I think this movie is this/last years movie snob test. It is one of those type of movies that you just know that the movie snob critics are going to love. They will say that all the people who didn’t get it or like it are just unsophisticated boobs who can’t appreciate art. When in reality, this movie is simply well-made garbage. I’m not saying I want every movie to be like Rush Hour 3 or anything, but I need plot. I need climax.
This movie just didn’t have it.
Save your money. Go see No Country for Old Men instead.