There Will Be Blood (2007)

Rated: R
Length: 158 minutes
Grade: CDDC=C
Budget: $25 million
Box Office: $40 million U.S., $25 million Intl., $13 million DVD

Written and Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson, who previously also wrote and directed Punch-Drunk Love, Magnolia, and Boogie Nights.
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, and Ciaran Hinds.

This is the story of an independent oil man’s career based on Upton Sinclair’s muckraking book “Oil.”

Entertainment Value: C
This is a very long movie. Yes, it’s two and a half hours, but it feels more like five hours because it drags on and on and on and…well you get the picture. Everyone I’ve spoken to says the same thing. It’s long. This is unfortunate because I thought the characters and the acting were excellent. But you end the movie thinking to yourself, “Why did I watch this?” And that’s mostly because the plot never really resolves. But if you liked the Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Wade, you’ll probably love this slow-moving period piece.

Superficial Content: D
Drugs/Alcohol D, Sexuality B, Violence D, Language B
There is enough alcohol use and drunkenness to make this PG-13, and there is certainly enough realistic violence to make it R. Mostly it’s people getting killed or maimed in oil rig accidents, but there are some brutal murders also. There are also discussions about prostitutes, but nothing sexual is shown.

Significant Content: D
Everyone is a lying, power-hungry hypocrite, especially religious leaders and oil men. Beware people who tell you what you want to hear. Human greed and cruelty knows no limits.

Artistic/Thought Value: C
I was disappointed by this movie because I liked what it was trying to do: artfully and cleverly tell what started out as a pretty compelling story of ambition and treachery. If the purpose was to make an industry look sordid 100 years ago, I suppose it was a success. But, aside from the pacing and frustrating plot, there was one other main defect: the music. When done properly, musical scoring is appreciated. When done perfectly, it goes completely unnoticed. When done wrong, it continuously jars you away from enjoying the movie. That was the case here.

Discussion Questions:
~Would you describe Plainview as successful?
~Does Plainview have any moral principles at all? Would you describe him as sane or insane?
Much of this movie is about the problem of people being something other than what they seem. ~Who in this movie is real, and who is deceptive?
~Discuss Eli and his behavior. What Biblical warnings might you say were illustrated in his life? Why do people sit through his sermons? Are there any people like him in America today?
~Is anyone in this movie genuinely Christian? Is the movie favorable or unfavorable to Christianity?
~In what way were both Eli and Plainview were charlatan salesmen selling something to the people? Why does Plainview hate Eli so much?
~When Plainview says that the competition in him wants no one else to succeed, what does he mean? Do you think this is common among ambitious people?
~Who in this movie is evil? Would it be fair to call this movie a study of evil? Was the evil in any particular case chosen or inevitable?

Overall Grade: D
If you have something really unpleasant to do in about three hours, and you want to make it seem like the intervening time is actually five yours long, watch this movie. Plus, whatever’s coming next won’t seem so bad. Nonetheless, it’s pretty and well-acted.


Andrew Tallman said...

Hey, I was just browsing through your movie reviews and read the one on There Will Be Blood. It’s so nice to finally find someone who shared our sentiments on the movie. Phil and I went to see it in the theaters to see what all the hype was about. Phil kept falling asleep. I would have loved to, but who could sleep through that eerie, screeching violin soundtrack. Oh, yeah. Phil did…

Anyway, your review perfectly articulated my thoughts on the movie. I was so brain-dead after spending the whole movie trying so hard to catch a glimpse of a message, that all I could articulate after it was over was: “well there went three hours of my life I’ll never get back”!


Andrew Tallman said...

I have at least three other friends who are emphatically on our side and another friend who is a district manager for Blockbuster and Jeffrey Overstreet, a friend who manages Christianity Today's movies section who both thought this was genius and a grand slam for Daniel Day Lewis. I don't get it, and I'm the most likely to be open to such things. I'm glad I could articulate your views. =)