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(2-Disc Collector’s Edition)

In the hands of screenwriter/director Paul Thomas Anderson, Upton Sinclair’s novel Oil! has been adapted and transformed into THERE WILL BE BLOOD ($35)- an intensely unflinching fictional biopic in the vein of CITIZEN KANE. Sure, Anderson’s cinematic approach is totally different from that of Orson Welles, but THERE WILL BE BLOOD is another mesmerizing film that will also stand the test of time. Also to the film’s credit, Daniel Day-Lewis took home a much-deserved Academy Award for his portrayal of oil baron Daniel Plainview, a cold-hearted man who is virtually devoid of redeeming qualities. In typical fashion, Day-Lewis immerses himself in his character and brings to life a highly flawed individual that is almost totally lacking in basic humanity. In Daniel Plainview’s mindset, the universe revolves around him and he is not above lying, cheating, intimidating, humiliating and murdering to get everything he wants and feels he deserves. Daniel Plainview is not a pleasant man, nor a pleasant character, yet Day-Lewis keeps the audience riveted to their chairs for the film’s two and a half hour run time.

THERE WILL BE BLOOD covers a near thirty-year period in the life of Daniel Plainview, beginning just before the turn of the twentieth century, and ending around the time of the stock market crash. As the film opens, we encounter Plainview in his humble origins as a miner, who happens upon the oil business, seemingly by chance. When fate hands Plainview a son, the child becomes another trick of his trade; allowing the slippery up and coming oil man to present himself as a family man to those whose oil rich land he hopes to acquire. The quest for land to plunder for its black gold eventually brings Plainview to an isolated an overlooked little place called Little Boston, where he encounters minister/faith healer Eli Sunday (Paul Dano), who sees the oil being pumped out of his community, as a means of fulfilling his own ambitions. Dano’s performance as Sunday carries the most weight in comparison Day-Lewis, especially during their run ins, which provides the film with some of its biggest dramatic fireworks. The cast of THERE WILL BE BLOOD also features Kevin J. O'Connor, Ciarán Hinds, Dillon Freasier, Paul F. Tompkins, Sydney McCallister and David Willis.

Paramount Home Entertainment has made THERE WILL BE BLOOD available on DVD in a fairly terrific looking 2.35:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. THERE WILL BE BLOOD took home an Oscar for its stark cinematography that has been well represented in this standard definition presentation. The levels of sharpness and image detail are very good, especially in close ups and medium shots. Long shots are harder to resolve in standard definition and I am expecting the eventual Blu-ray release of THERE WILL BE BLOOD to alleviate my concerns about the slight softness inherent in these long shots. Colors have a fairly natural level of saturation during daylight photography; interiors can be a bit richer. Blacks, whites and contrast are all great and just what one should expect from a SD DVD title. The film elements appear pristine. Grain is never excessive. Digital compression artifacts are slightly more noticeable than I would have liked, but not particularly bothersome.

THERE WILL BE BLOOD comes with a very good quality Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. For the majority of its running time, THERE WILL BE BLOOD is a talky drama, so the sound design isn't particularly aggressive. However, sound effects are exceedingly well deployed during key moments, i.e. any time there is an oil strike. Fidelity is fairly strong; with the music having an excellent sense of presence, plus the sound effects proves to be completely natural and totally convincing. There is a surprisingly deep bottom end, which adds some ground shaking to appropriate moments. Voices are warmly recorded, plus the dialogue is always completely understandable. French and Spanish 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental content that has been relegated to the second disc of the set. There Will Be Blood: Pics, Research, Etc. is a fifteen-minute montage of materials utilized to recreate the era in which the story takes place. Two Deleted Scenes are also provided, as is an Outtake and two Theatrical Trailers. The final supplemental feature is The Story Of Petroleum, a vintage 1923 silent film that looks at the industry depicted in the film.

THERE WILL BE BLOOD is a great film with great performances. The DVD looks and sounds very, very good, although the eventual Blu-ray release will reveal even more of the beauty of the Oscar winning cinematography. Highly recommended.



There Will Be Blood (Two-Disc Special Collector's Edition)



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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