Jaq's Review: There Will Be Blood - And Tears

January 14, 2008

What was Paul Thomas Anderson thinking? In his new movie, There Will Be Blood, the auteur filmmaker is taking a lesser known novel by Upton Sinclair, Oil!, and turning it into a long, boring rumination on… well, that's part of the problem, He never really gets around to making a point. Instead, he chooses to spend almost three hours giving us the life of a disagreeable wildcatter named Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) without ever scratching below the obvious.

The plot follows Plainview from his humble beginnings as a miner, showing his grit and determination through some fairly large hardships, to his success as a millionaire oilman and then to his fall, living among his personal demons in a beautiful house but away from the fields he knew so well. It's a slice of life, certainly, but like a cheese pizza, there's very little spice or differentiation of taste.

And yet, I will wager I'm going to be in the minority of critics here. Anderson, of whom I will admit I am not a fan, is the kind of filmmaker who confuses intensity with art. He never gives us any reason to care what happens to Plainview or anyone around him. Anderson spends all of his time flirting between showing us a Plainview who is obsessed with money and a Plainview who is obsessed with power. What we never get is a Plainview who is a complete, well-rounded human being. It doesn't matter if the character is good or evil if he doesn't have anything else, he's a cardboard figure being moved around at the whim of his writer/director.

Daniel Plainview meets the fellow members of Eli Sunday's Church of the Third Revelation in There Will Be Blood.There Will Be Blood Review

I'll sit and watch a film about a bastard of a human being (see Raging Bull) and enjoy it immensely, but I want to know I'm in capable hands. With Anderson, I get the feeling he knows as little about Plainview as he shows us and that's just frustrating. Plainview comes across as a caricature, a one dimensional figure that has been created to serve a point of view, not a character designed in service of a story. Of course, the up-shot of this is that we, as an audience, never have anything to latch onto, anything to care about. I'm not saying we need Plainview to be redeemable, not at all, but we should, at least, have a basis for understanding his actions. We should care if he lives or if he dies. The way Anderson has set Plainview up, it doesn't matter one way or the other. We can't hate him because we've never liked him. He's the same man, from beginning to end and for me, that makes him boring.

Oscar winner Day-Lewis is normally very good, but here, he loses the handle midstream. He starts off fine, but by the end of the film he's hamming it up so much he'd give Porky Pig a run for his bacon. Paul Dano, who plays Eli Sunday, Plainview's primary nemesis, is credible but is given very little to work with. I'm sure someone much smarter than I will come up with a theory explaining how these two are both sides of the same character, that Eli's devotion to God and Plainview's devotion to greed makes them irrevocably intertwined but you know, it doesn't work. We'd need more depth to truly grasp the intricacies of this relationship.

That said, there are some redeeming qualities to the film. The landscapes are beautiful and the design of the early 20th century oil fields is stunning. This is where I think P.T, Anderson falls down. As a filmmaker, he's quite talented. What he's not is a good writer or a decent story-teller. He is much more concerned with getting his message across, often at the expense of he story and characters, than he is with creating a film which will entertain while making a statement.

Ultimately, I was bored while waiting for There Will be Blood to get around to telling me something, anything, which would make me want to stick around.

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Jaq, I know that movies are all about personal opinion and personal taste, but you are mental if you think that "There will be blood" deserves a 4. Sorry Jaq, hope you don't take it personally. I wouldn't give it a 10 like Ken did, but at least a solid 8.

Roderick on Jan 14, 2008


Jaq is the guy who wrote that Mr. Magorium's Emporium was a great family he writes this tripe. That tells me all I need to know. Puh-lease. Alex,...get a reviewer with half a brain to post their reviews on film. This person is absolutely clueless. He should be writing reviews on Teen Beat.

HarryK on Jan 14, 2008

3 You were bored because you don't have enough intellectual capacity to understand TWBB. You are bias and quite possibly, the worst reviewer on the web. All your ramblings and questions in this article are and can be answered by WATCHING the film. I'm sure you didn't watch the film though because you were probably off snorting coke and being dazzled by Mr. Magorium's Emporium. "Oscar winner Day-Lewis is normally very good, but here, he loses the handle midstream. He starts off fine, but by the end of the film he's hamming it up so much he'd give Porky Pig a run for his bacon." Yikes. This role will win him an Oscar (it's practically guaranteed). Johnny Depp doesn't have anything on this role and he will never have anything comparable to this role. Hell, Depp uses the same voice for all his roles (and he can't sing worth a shit). DDL is from the UK and he sounds more American than George Bush in this role! I am sorry, FirstShowing. I am unsubscribing to this blog and telling all of my friends to avoid reading this idiot's ramblings. You can thank Jaq.

Chris on Jan 14, 2008


Congratulations on what will surely prove to be the DUMBEST analogy of 2008 by comparing one of the most intense and well acted studies of a man consumed by greed and evil to a CHEESE PIZZA. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but some people's opinions are more fit for a kindergarten classroom. I have a picture in my head of this "movie critic" sitting in the theater watching "There Will Be Blood" as he twiddles his thumbs and kicks his feet with impatience, and then leans to his mother to ask if they can go watch the new romping "Veggie Tales" movie instead. What used to seem like lapses in judgement with reviews giving August Rush a laughable 9/10, and solid Picture of the Year Nominees such as Michael Clayton a 6/10 and American Gangster a 6.5/10 has now proven itself to be a sheer and utter inability to analyze and respect filmmaking. You put your words out there like this, and you open yourself up for the onslaught of criticism you are sure to receive. I can honestly say this is the worst and most unintelligent review I have ever read. One can only question how many bathroom trips you must have had to take to not see that this was one of the greatest performances of the year by Day-Lewis.

Nate on Jan 14, 2008


Did you even watch this film? There was depth, there was character development, there was a ton of Daniel Plainview shown to us. HE'S IN EVERY SCENE OF THE FILM. Jesus, how did you get this job? I can understand not liking a film, disagreeing with the majority of opinions, etc. But this review is so terribly written, it's evident that you either can't sit through a long film or you need CGI-action jumping out at you every 5 seconds for you to stand it. FirstShowing, why is he writing reviews???

Mark O. on Jan 14, 2008


Why is it that every review by this idiot Jaq, has his name in the title? Is this guy a complete egomaniac? Not to mention a complete useless reviewer. He spoils an otherwise brilliant site with a complete lack of reviewing ability. I agree with the guy above, why is he here?

Jon on Jan 14, 2008


and this is the same guy that gave fred claus and the mist much higher scores than twbb! yeah, his opinion really doesnt mean a whole lot to those of us that actually like good movies.

johnnyb on Jan 14, 2008


I mean Jaq maybe you need a prescription of Ritalin so you can sit and absorb in one place for 3 hours. Perhaps the Worst review I have ever read. How such an epic can be so easily summarized is beyond me. Anyone actually basing whether or not they are going to this film on this review should not so easily be fooled.

PK on Jan 14, 2008


You know what's funny is I ran this because I appreciate differing opinions here on FS and Jaq had a very strong one. His review is not "crap" it's quite legit and believable, but that's entirely up to you. Jon #6 - His name is in the title because that's how we do it here at! Go read all of his past reviews. That's a scheme we use to identify who is reviewing so people don't confuse everything as being written by the same guy. It's NOT a matter of "ego-maniac" come on... You guys need to calm down, re-read his review, and appropriately respond with constructive comments if you have a differing opinion. I don't agree either, but I'm not calling him a hack!

Alex Billington on Jan 14, 2008


Alex, you're wrong. It's not legit or believable at all and I'm honestly surprised you'd support such a terribly written review. Anyone paying attention to the film would know Plainview is NOT the same man from beginning to end. You want to tell me the man who respectively plays with his child and cares for another human being as he does is the exact same man who so gloriously rejects his son in the end? It doesn't take a genius to notice GLARINGLY HUGE AND OBVIOUS CHARACTER DEVELOPMENTS. I support varying opinions of films and I've read some reviews of TWBB that don't rate it so highly; while I disagree with them, at least they're well-written. HE COMPARED DANIEL PLAINVIEW TO A SLICE OF CHEESE PIZZA. IS HE MAD? BLIND? DEAF? Surely you can't possibly support that, right?

Mark O. on Jan 14, 2008


I knew my review would be controversial but wow, you guys are quite adamant that because I didn't like a single film I'm the worst critic out there. I didn't like Titanic either, and that won the Best Picture Oscar. I have no problem sitting for three hours to watch a film. I watched every frame of There Will Be Blood and it didn't work for me. As for my star rating on other films. I judge a film by what it sets out to do and if, in my opinion, it succeeded. You CANNOT judge a film like Mr. Magorium and a film like There Will Be Blood with the same criteria. They are not the same kind of film with the same intended effect. Yes, I think Mr. Magorium is fairly innocuous family fun. And if you took a small child to see There Will Be Blood I would question your judgment as a parent. If you want to challenge my opinion, that's fine, but at least understand how I look at films. I look at what I think the filmmaker intended and whether or not I think they succeeded. For me, Paul Thomas Anderson did not succeed. Additionally, I freely admit I have not liked anything Anderson has done. As for Plainview's development. He does nothing in the film that changes in anything other than degree. All of his actions can be traced directly to his greed. He is manipulative from the beginning, doing what he must to get what he wants.

Jaq on Jan 14, 2008


I agree with you. Well, actually I think PTA is a pretty good writer and storyteller, ordinarily (Magnolia is superb, crazy, ballsy, true) but this movie was like a big glass of warm milk and I DRANK THAT WARM MILK!!!! and felt sleepy. Indeed Plainview seemed to me--and I was watching the film and at the moment don't have my head up my ass, just to anticipate the constructive feedback--that he was the same crazy bastard from beginning to end. He couldn't even be much crazier than during that first intriguing scene. Like a movie about watching someone desperately sniff glue in their basement as a teen and then twenty years later they're a junkie. The journey isn't that surprising. His antagonist in the movie, while generating some fun sparks, poses no real threat, they just annoy each other, a fly he'll one day swat. Even after seeing the movie I look at still photos and get excited all over again by this odd movie's possibilities. But then remember I saw it, and the photos are subtler, more intriguing than the movie ever managed to be for me.

Kipnotic on Jan 14, 2008


Jaq's Reviews: 10/10 The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford Ratatouille 9.5/10 Stardust Waitress 9/10 Juno Enchanted August Rush Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Ocean's 13 8.5/10 The Mist Into The Wild The Hunting Party Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End 8/10 Cassandra's Dream The Kite Runner 30 Days of Night Gone Baby Gone You Kill Me Live Free or Die Hard Transformers SiCKO The Hoax 7.5/10 The Bucket list Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium Death at a Funeral 1408 Lucky You The Invisible Disturbia 7/10 Halloween Sunshine Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer 28 Weeks Later Spider-Man 3 Grindhouse 6.5/10 American Gangster 6/10 Charlie Wilson's War I Am Legend Fred Claus Michael Clayton The Kingdom Death Sentence No Reservations Eagle Vs. Shark Slow Burn 5.5/10 Control Nancy Drew 5/10 The Darjeeling Limited Resident Evil: Extinction Dragon Wars Perfect Stranger 4/10 There Will Be Blood 2/10 Margot at the Wedding 1/10 P2 bored at work.

Nick on Jan 14, 2008


It sounds like you misinterpreted what the filmmaker intended. What makes you think that the film itself, as it stands, isn't exactly what the filmmaker set out to make? Why do you assume that it falls short of some artistic vision, when you don't even know what Anderson's vision really was? How could you possibly know what that vision was in the first place? What you're doing isn't thinking about the filmmaker's intentions; you're actually propping up your own conception of what the film should be and then attacking based on that, rather than looking at it as a piece of art that is exactly what its creator aimed to create. As for your bones with the character of Daniel Plainview, I think your own propped-up conception of the film's "intended" nature must have ruined the whole viewing for you. The film itself, as viewed from an open and unbiased perspective, is self-contained and extremely effective character study based not on "a complete, well-rounded human," but rather on the exact opposite: a human who is dreadfully incomplete and trying to compensate for that in the wrong way entirely (by succumbing to merciless greed). You say that Plainview isn't a character designed in service of a story. That's exactly correct. Why you'd want a character to be only a function in the context of an overall story is beyond me. You call Plainview a caricature, but I think that's, again, your propped-up conception of the film talking. Plainview is not a stereotype; he is not an archetype; he is, in fact, an extremely unique character, especially as portrayed by Daniel Day-Lewis. And no, he is not necessarily unique because he is well-rounded and has a lot of internal conflict; he is unique, in my opinion, because he represents the depravity to which a human being can fall... the utter isolation that one can cultivate for oneself by pursuing success too adamantly. He is an extremely dark and troubled character who has managed to get rid of much of his internal conflict and is now operating in the world as something-not-quite-human. But the point is, he IS still human... which makes his attitude and behavior all the more compelling, as it represents the height of evil, both subtle and extreme, that man is capable of achieving. He is not a caricature stroking his mustache and lashing out at the good guys for no good reason; he is an American man acting from very American motives and doing anything to achieve his goals. Not to mention the relationship between Daniel and Eli, which is an extremely tense and interesting one that adds a lot of substance to both of them in my opinion. In relation to each other, they are both doubled in significance and heft.

Adam on Jan 14, 2008


the only reason he rated this movie badly is to get recognition as a critic. I'm not naive and stupid. I can see what's going on because i've seen it before. In the case of a movie as good as this one, it will be acclaimed by many critics. That is why people will remember the critics who don't agree with the rest. It's the reason i'm on this website right now. I clicked on a link entitled 'bad reviews' because they pale in comparison to the great reviews. but maybe he just didn't like it... the man's name IS Jaq Greenspan for christ sake.

matt on Jan 14, 2008


Adam #13 - You make some very good points. Yes, in that case, you could say it comes down to a differing of opinions on what a film is doing as opposed to what the viewer wants it to do. In fact, after a while, I will probably revisit this film and see if my opinions change knowing what I already know.

Jaq on Jan 14, 2008


Jaq, I think that you're entitled to your opinion, but I think you are incorrect when you say that Daniel Plainview has no change (or rather, has no journey) in the context of the story. I believe that Daniel starts off as a man determined, stubborn and ambitious, but not necessarily greedy or ruthless. From that point on, we move to him as a somewhat successful oiler, working on a crew. At this point he is still ambitious, but when he worker dies, and he claims HW as his own, that is where the greed begins (as explained later that he used HW to make him more money as a "pretty face"). From here his ambition turns to an overwhelming avarice, and he begins to sink deeper into depravity. He becomes a monstrous metaphor for capitalism, buying out land from unsuspecting families and sending his son off alone so he can continue his work. And at the end, he reveals his own selfishness by exposing HW as an orphan and finally humiliating Eli, simply because they're his competitors. The transformation may not be polarizing, but it surely happens.

Andrew on Jan 14, 2008


You've said twice that you entered this movie with a completely negative perception of Paul Thomas Anderson. You admit that you have not liked his previous work, and that probably influenced you. But the most glaring thing about that stamement is simply this: This is absolutely, positively not like anything he has done before. If no one had told you before, there is NO way you would have known this was a Paul Thomas Anderson film. In other news, this is easily going to be one of the popular articles on in a while. You should post YOUR top ten list of '07, and I bet it would turn into a free for all.

Tank on Jan 14, 2008


I agree with the reviewer. I would say the film warrants more "stars out of ten" but I normally don't even give a shit about numerical rankings. Bottom line is that PT is a great filmmaker but this was, as Kipnotic put it so well, "a big glass of warm milk." The film was too long, the score was misplaced and ill-timed in several scenes, sub-plots were given very little attention and in the ending felt like it was tacked on. It seems as though the last scene only existed for the sake of the story, void of any character motivation. In other words: Q. Why did Plainfield do it? A. To satisfy the filmaker's need to inject some last-ditch dynamic into an otherwise flat "power-struggle". Yes, I said "flat power struggle". Eli's character didn't hold up his end of the bargain in the film. At no time did I ever feel that Plainfield's character was challenged in the least by Eli's character. The "power-struggle" simply didn't exist. Anyhow, I'm sure this film will provide plenty of theory-porn for film school intelligencia but the bottom line is that it was good, but certainly not great. With that said, before you all jump on me and accuse me of being some sort of CGI junkie or anti-Anderson activist understand that you're wholly wrong in assuming that. I can't stand big-boom flicks and I happen to think PT is an excellent filmaker. So, keep that in mind before you flame me otherwise I'll have to crawl through the internet and bitch-slap your lips right off PT's ass.

AJB on Jan 15, 2008


Jaq, Don't fret. There are people out here that agree with you. I'm one of them. It was a little boring, no matter what everyone else says. But unlike you, I think PTA is one of the best directors under 40 years old out there, but he did indeed mis-fire with this one. He needs an editor. Period. The movie rambled. It had no plot, but that was the kind of movie he wanted to make and that's fine. However, as a result, I too found myself bored towards the end and wanting it to wrap up. Despite occasional moments of typical Anderson brilliance (and there were a few moments), I wasn't a fan of the ending, but I was glad that it finally just ended. Or was it just that after 3 hours, I was simply hungry for a slice of cheese pizza? JM

JM on Jan 15, 2008


I'll correct myself: Plainview, not Plainfield. Sorry, I'm reading a book with a character named Plainfield and getting all confused. Also, JM, I couldn't agree more. PT is an excellent director and I loved Boogie Nights, Punch Drunk Love and Magnolia but in this case TWBB seroiusly needs an editor.

AJB on Jan 15, 2008


Hey, everyone? Can we at least keep it civil? The great thing about opinions is that everyone has them. And almost everybody shares at least some of them. There are people who are going to disagree with Jaq's review; that's fine, you're entitled to that. But he's also entitled to his opinion (as well as anyone else who might share his opinion.) The beauty of cinema, being a mixture of storytelling, acting, visual effects, sound and music.. it's going to affect individuals differently, because of our differing backgrounds, experiences and memories. For example, I think "The Goonies" is one of the greatest movies ever made, but I can't directly translate that feeling to a specific part of the film (acting, storytelling, etc.) because the film as a whole carries other memories for me; my childhood, growing up, wanting "adventure." Just because Jaq didn't feel that sort of connection to this movie is no reason to belittle his other movie reviews, his review technique, or his character!

Nicholas on Jan 15, 2008


Jaq is awesome. He is the only reason I even read this page. I think he is pretty accurate in his stop with the personal attacks! Thanks for your reviews, Jaq!

Mimi on Jan 16, 2008


I have mixed reviews about this film. I came out of this film with myself thinking....I have just seen acting at it's best...Daniel Day-Lewis deserves the Oscar for best Actor and Paul Dano clearly held his own and matured before our eyes on screen. But thats about it.....if feel the story had no depth...was dull and overdrawn. I was waiting for the focal point in the movie but it never came. I might not be a Robert and Ebert, but i know what a good movie feels like to me...and There Will Be Blood was not it.

NATHAN on Jan 16, 2008


The problem with about 98% of these negative comments is that they don't provide any evidence to refute Jaq's review - they just say that the review sucks and the movie is great. If, for example, you disagree with his statement "What we never get is a Plainview who is a complete, well-rounded human being," please cite scenes that reveal the character's depth. If you can't or won't back up your opinions, then your comments add nothing useful to this thread.

Wade Rockett on Jan 16, 2008


One of the most amazing movies I've seen in a long time. well 3:10 to yuma was good, as was no country for old men. This movie is for people that have long attention spans and can appreciate not only good script but also great filming..its ok if you don't like it, just go see Ratatouille with you kid.

JPXV on Jan 16, 2008


JPXV, I'd like to point out to you how ignorant your comment is. Your assumption that anyone who doesn't believe TWBB is the greatest film ever made is a child or has no attention span only proves how limited and ego-centric your perspective on film is. So, with that in mind, I'll make some ignorant assumptions of my own. It seems to me that you're the type of scarf-adorning, artelligencia, pretentious bore that believes they wax poetic about the true emotional and psychological experience of this medium called film. A self-proclaimed high-level cineaste living in a world where you're certain that your opinion is truth and therefore anyone who dares to disagree must have the attention span of a goldfish and the critical faculties of a child. Further, your assumption that those of us who dare to question the reverance of the film cannot appreciate the elements of excellent filmaking is moronic. Ironically, it is exactly that ability that's lead me to question that coronation of TWBB. Specifically the lack of dynamics in the structure, the luke-warm "power struggle" between Eli and Daniel, the shallow depth of the characters in both the writing and in the caricature performances (although excellent caricatures they were), the second class treatment of the sub-plots (which would have helped greatly in the character development), and the rushed, ham-handed presentation of Plainview's ultimation which had all the climax of a faked orgasm. For sure the lady did cry out but it is only those of hightened sensuality that will know she actually didn't come. I'm fully aware of what PT was attempting to do. I understand what the characters could have been. I think he's an excellent filmaker, but in this case he's failed to deliver a film that truly engaged me emotionally. And I assure you that I watched every last frame of it. So, with that said, "I'm finished!" and I'm off to call my nieces to see if they would like to go see Ratatouille with me.

AJB on Jan 16, 2008


I don't know if the film engaged me emotionally either... but I still think it was an amazing film. It didn't have a typical structure as far as pacing/dynamics, but I still thought it was great. What TWBB does in my opinion is establish an incredibly unique and self-contained atmosphere on screen--one that implies a sense of horror and evil surging beneath a seemingly uneventful story--and, instead of trying to engage its audience emotionally (so to speak), weaves an intriguing story with emotionally virtually-unengageable characters and an epic sense of almost mythic conflict between them (e.g. Daniel and Eli). I didn't so much care emotionally about what was happening, but I was certainly entranced by it. My analytic eye found so much compelling about it that I was constantly wide-eyed, constantly gaping at Day-Lewis's performance, and constantly unnerved by the tension that oozed from every pore of the film. Again, not a typical movie in terms of structure and character development, but a great exploration of evil, manipulation, and descent.

Adam on Jan 16, 2008


Great post Adam. I never really thought about the idea of the characters being flat purposefully in order to grant the audience license to imagine what's not being said on screen. I think that's a very interesting technique. I'll have to keep that in mind for the second watch. However, I don't think (but could never know) that's what PTA had in mind. And, it's a dangerous technique as well considering that what happened with me is that I just plain didn't care about either of them. Not that I loved or hated either of them, I just plain didn't give a shit. Despite the powerful performances from both of the actors I found the characters bored me from 45min on because there was nothing left to discover about them. The film became a countdown for the story to unfold and although it was beautifully photographed it didn't leave much to look forward too. Much like watching a film after having read the book. Aside from that, I've just now finished watching Barry Lyndon again (by chance it was on The Movie Network tonight) and I can't help but think of the similarities between the two films. Not just in the fact that their both lengthy period pieces and beautiful films but also in the similarities between Redmond Barry and Daniel Plainview. Specifically how they both became victims of their own greed (and the whole stepchild thing). However, the major glaring difference is that Kubrick presented a very deep (almost too deep) background on his main character which allowed me to struggle with the choice of whether or not I liked or disliked Barry throughout Part II of the film. Because of that I was much more engaged in what that character did throughout the story. I wish I'd had the same experience with TWBB. With all that said perhaps I'm a little biased because TWBB is getting coronated while The Diving Bell and The Butterfly isn't getting near as much praise as it deserves (in my opinion) considering that it's one of the greatest films I've ever seen (*ducks*). I'd like to think I'm looking at TWBB objectively though. Anyhow, I've got my own damn script to finish so I can get it in front of people who will talk on the internet about how shallow and ill-structured it is. Great post though Adam. Certainly food for thought.

AJB on Jan 16, 2008


AJB - Get Jaq to review your script and I'm sure it will inspire plenty of controversial discussion :P. Anyway, thank you for the kind words... It's nice to see that there are people who can discuss things like this without lashing out. So, thank you for your equally great response. I guess I don't recall either loving or hating any of the characters either, actually. I guess for me that wasn't a bad thing, though. The thing is, I went into this film with the expectation that the character of Daniel Plainview was going to be almost a symbolic representation of Satan (due to a summary I'd accidentally skimmed over on the homepage). So, immediately I had this tendency to look at him as something other than a human being to which I'd expect to relate emotionally. That was my bias going in, and perhaps it colored the way I viewed the movie. Because of that presupposition, I didn't look for reasons why Daniel was the way he was; I didn't seek to understand him, because I didn't feel like I had to in order to appreciate the story that was being presented to me (a story which I took to be more of a horror/war story about ostensible good vs. evil--or evil vs. evil, really, considering Eli's penchant for manipulation... which made any scene with Daniel and Eli (especially the baptism scene and the final scene) excruciatingly good for me. I was never thinking, "Who are these people and why should I care?" Instead I was thinking, "Holy shit what are these people supposed to be? What do they mean in relation to each other? What epic battles are going on beneath the surface of all this?" etc. Of course, would I have watched the film with that assumption if I hadn't seen that comparison of Daniel Plainview to a modern-day Satan? Certainly not. Would the film consequently have been less interesting for me? Maybe. I'm not sure. There's no real way for me to know. I do plan on watching the film differently my second time around, viewing Daniel as a man instead as some kind of vaguely supernatural figure. But will I be able to rid myself of the amazing feelings I got from watching a sinister servant of the Lord baptize a begrudging Devil? I really don't think so.

Adam on Jan 16, 2008


I love movies and I also love to have discussions about them. Sometimes it is nice to get another persons view of the film. It may shed some light on a piece that I may have missed or interpreted differently. However, I don't belittle the person, attack their character, or call them a moron like a third grader like some of you did. I happen to agree with Jaq's review and I am glad to see that some others agree too. I sat in the theater for 3 hours trying to understand the Plainview character. In the start he seemed to be a hard working man. What brought about the change that caused his greed? Was it really greed, or maybe he was just a con man who got off on tricking people out of their land cheap. Throughout the movie I felt nothing for Plainview. I did not like him very much but, I did not hate him either. I just didn't care that much what happened to him. I thought alot about the film after I left the theater and spoke with some people that also saw it. I tried to make sense of the 3 hours I spent watching it. I read this review to try to maybe shed some light and still have found nothing yet. I think that it was an okay film but, definately not worthy of any awards. In the end, I am still left with alot more questions about the film than answers.

Tom on Jan 17, 2008


I am going to take an unpopular stance among these responses, and commend Jaq. Before I write anything else, let me say that I was very impressed by Magnolia, so I am not uniformly a non-fan of Anderson. I am, by profession, a minister with a Masters degree from a leading Ivy League seminary (Princeton). In my work, I see quite a few of the people Plainview is supposed to be, and their victims, and the very real violence they inflict. There are basically three things that don't work for me in this film. Though it is visually stunning, it does not have anything real to say about human beings; the protagonists are cardboard cut-outs. The psuedo-Biblical references betray a writer who is no theologian -- not even close. This is not Biblical, it is quasi-Bible-like. It reminds me of all the folks who pretend they understand Einstein's theory of relativity, but who never took, or never came close to mastering, physics or even general math. And the final scene is banal. I was not on the edge of my seat by then, but struggling not to fall off my seat in slumber. I won't sink to the meanness of some commentators here. Instead, I will say that I have hopes that Anderson will bring it together better next time.

Rev Lee on Jan 17, 2008


Rev Lee, I don't think the movie was meant to be Biblical. Surely the Bible is hardly the sole source of tales of good vs. evil, and in fact I doubt that there is anything in the Bible that parallels the battle presented in TWBB: that of evil vs. evil-posing-as-good. Nevertheless... the film isn't trying to present a theology, or a theological argument. It's presenting something else entirely; a landscape of people being manipulated by two false prophets... one espousing a vengeful God, the other espousing oil. There's no theology here; it's more like a mythology based in human nature itself, rather than religious ideology. Is it possible that, as a Reverend, you might have been trying to make the film fit into your own religious framework instead of accepting it at face-value and trying to appreciate it on its own terms?

Adam on Jan 17, 2008


Adam, Thing is, we all look at films through our personal lens. While I don't particularly care for PT Anderson, I doubt I would have liked the film if it had been directed by Cameron Crowe (yes, that would have been a different film, but all things being equal). No one can look at something in a purely objective light. In fact, that's the basis of deconstructive interpretation, that the author has no say in the final meaning of the art. Which is why you can have many differing opinions, each of which brings new insight into the field. This is the point of discussion, to see the different interpretations. The Reverend's view that it was biblical is just as valid as yours that the people are being manipulated by false prophets (and honestly, you don't get much more biblical than false prophets).

Jaq on Jan 17, 2008


Good point, Jaq. Sometimes I get in this mode where I want to make sure everyone in the world likes a movie that I think is brilliant. Obviously that's impossible for the exact reason you cite... so oh well *shrugs* Anyway, whether or not people agree about movies is hardly important in the long run... haha.

Adam on Jan 17, 2008


Actually, Adam, I don't think it was meant to be Biblical either. I see your point & you may be right about my overlaying the film with that template from my own point of view. Now that I think about it, my comment in that regard was a reaction to reviewers who made the "Biblical" claim -- among them, the one in my local paper and Kurt Loder. Also, the New Yorker's reviewer described the film as "allegorical", a term which, from my seminary training, can mean a story in which the characters represent Biblical types. That said, I would point (as I believe someone in this thread or another movie review thread did) to "Raging Bull", and deNiro's Jake LaMotta, as a more successful expression of what Anderson and, perhaps, Day Lewis, were trying to evoke in Plainview -- objectionable, driven characters who, nevertheless gain the viewer's sympathy. Peter Lorre's child murderer in "M" is another example I would hold up in contrast to Plainview.

Rev Lee on Jan 18, 2008


"There will be blood" delivers only that - blood. It is a giant slick noisy tale full of sound and fury signifying nothing. Every time it grasps at emotional depth, as in the scenes with Plainview's professed brother, or Planview's adopted son it is strained and 'arty' in the worst sense of the word.

Ray on Jan 21, 2008


i think magnolia was a pretentious turd. it is one of the few movies i've ever walked out on. so jaq may be right about TWBB. but all this jazz makes me want to see it jaq's review has been a success in that sense. i mean...all you film fan boys jerked off to no country for old men, and it turned out to be a complete waste of my time. it was a david lynch wannabe postmodern piece of shit that in no way translated any of the emotion of the novel into the film. btw - i know jaq personally and he's NOT a coke head and he knows a shit load more about film than anyone else i know.

Joe on Jan 22, 2008


I’m with Jaq on this one. It had the potential to be a real epic time piece. Instead, it turned out to be a movie with thin characters, bizarre music score, and 180 minutes of me waiting for it to get some legs. As far as writing goes, there wasn’t much in the way of dialog—it was pretty much a 3 hour monologue. DD Lewis certainly deserves a Best Actor nod as he was great and I believe he was the only one acting in the movie. Anderson established the point that Plainview was a greedy sob early on in the movie. However, he didn’t fill his character out. As a viewer you didn’t “understand” what made him tick, you couldn’t love him or hate him because, as a character, he wasn’t developed enough. Without giving out spoilers, there were a number of scenes in the movie where his actions didn’t make sense. You scratched your head and said “He didn’t need to do that. Why did he do it?”. All in all, it was a long winded movie with weak writing, thin characters, incongruent music, but a very good actor.

Mikey on Jan 27, 2008


Hello Jaq, I completely agree with your assessment of this movie. It was pretentious and overdone, from the acting to the music, which was so loud and insistent, it screamed "THIS IS AN EPIC, IN CASE YOU HAVEN'T NOTICED." I agree that the cinematography was wonderful, but the characters, with the exception of the child, were characatures. None of them were authentic. I had very high expectations (which may have been part of the problem), and was disappointed. Easily 1/2 hour could have been cut from this mess. And I thought the symbolism was over the top as well ("Plainview"?; "Sunday?" "Abel"?). There was nothing subtle about the movie. Nothing moving, no one to care about. I had the feeling it was trying to much more than it was....Anyway, thanks for the honest review - you are right on.

e s on Feb 1, 2008


If you don't like the movie, fine, but you gave it a 4... There's only two movies you've reviewed which have scored worse. And Fantastic 4 and Fool's Gold scored higher... I just don't understand you. A 6/10 AT THE VERY LEAST.

WTF on Feb 9, 2008


wow...i saw "there will be blood" two nights ago, just because this review was so controversial. and guess what. jaq fucking nailed it. he was right about everything. it was a long, boring rumination on....who knows? and the music was fucking retarded. huge swelling intense musical moments to people walkingacross fields. that about sums up the entire movie....well, that and monologues by day-lewis that were apparently just written to tell us what we already knew, that day-lewis is a damn good actor. what a waste of three hours of my life.

joe on Feb 10, 2008


I agree with the reviewer. 'nancy drew' was better than 'there will be blood,' no question.

bill e. colakle on Feb 25, 2008


Jaq is a genius- you should all leave my son alone! We should watch Mr Magoriums Wonder Emporium again sometime... it WAS a great family film! P.S. Your mother wants you to call her.

Adolph Greenspon on Mar 9, 2008


Like all bad movies, the best part about this movie was....the ending

mike dwyer on Mar 9, 2008


You gave this film a four and Rambo, the undeniable worst written film of the year, if you can even call it a film, an eight. Are you fucking retarded? Get a clue, remove your head from your colon and thinking rationally.

Clark W. Grizwold on Mar 15, 2008


Clark #46 I didn't see or review Rambo. That was one of our other reviewers. But thanks for reading.

jaq on Mar 15, 2008


pretty much agree with all that jaq said. and if you check other reviews on the net, you'll find that loads of other people had the same opinions.

david on Mar 31, 2008


I can't agree more with his breakdown. Why do people like this movie, I watched it and tried to like it, and kept waitng . . . and waiting . . .and then when it was done I thought it was a waste of time. I'm glad somone has a realistic opion.

Jacob on Apr 20, 2008


OK, so I'm a little late, but I finally saw this film last via thanks to Netflix and I also wonder what the big deal was. Yes, Day-Lewis put in a good performance and it is beautiful to see, but Plainview was a twisted man the whole way through. I even asked the television during Daniel's confession to his "brother", "Why do you hate people? Why do you see the worst?". I couldn't remember anything previously that warranted the level of hatred he had for other people. I felt bad that he wasn't able to truely love his son, but why was he in that position in the first place? Why did he feel like he had to protect himself from being hurt or used when I had never seen Daniel abused or cheated. He was just psycho the whole way through and if you messed with him, he'd humiliate you before cutting your throat. Naw, he didn't grow or develop as a person. He just started off as a poor, lonely bastard and ended up as a rich one.

Rabban on Jul 23, 2008


I think that this movie was rather odd. Honestly I had a creepy feeling watching it with my gf.

Mike on Jan 9, 2009


wow.. you're an idiot. There Will Be Blood is not only highly entertaining, but really funny too.

thasaltshaker on Jan 30, 2009


Jaq, I wouldn't be as harsh as a 4/10 because then you're putting it in some rather bad company. But everything you mention I agree with, with the exception of Daylewis' acting. I thought he was superb and a slightly better script would have made it great. The film never made a point.... my exact words as I left the movie theater. Enjoyed the movie overall but I wouldn't give it anything higher than a 7/10. Good Review!

Totally Agreed on Mar 10, 2009

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