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There Will Be Blood
Review Written by: Alex Sandell

Two dark blobs fight in the rain.

There Will Be Blood is one of those movies that's just good enough to make you wish it were better. Overall I liked the movie, but I wanted to love it. And I did until the screenplay got lazy and pulled a "17 years later" type stunt that was uncharacteristic of the deliberately paced, honest and compelling story that preceded it. At over 2 and a half hours There Will Be Blood was still too short. It needed to be at least 30 minutes longer so we could have seen these characters we had grown fascinated wtih organically grow and change. Did the Writer's Strike hit early forcing Paul Anderson to scrap much of his script? Did the studio put pressure on him to bring the movie in under 3 hours? Or did Paul himself lack the ability to fill in the gaps and write a script that justified its own conclusion?

This movie was too much a character study to pull a "17 years later" moment to get to the finale Paul Anderson clearly desired without working to earn said finale. It asks the audience to fill in the gaps -- which they can, but up until this point the movie seemed too smart to demand such a thing. It did a great disservice to all of the wonderfully developed characters in the film to jump ahead in time, skipping over a large amount of story and a large part of their lives. Because of the jump, everyone outside of the son (HW) appeared to turn into a cartoon parody of themselves. The much touted final scene is embarrassing to watch. It may have worked had we gotten to see Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day Lewis) decline into madness, but with the abrupt switch it comes out of left field and seems as absurd as the "raining frogs" scene from Magnolia -- only unintentionally so.

That being said, the first couple of hours and change of this film are exceptional. I wouldn't want to sway any lover of cinema from experiencing this flawed work of art while it's still in the theaters (and likely to be crowned Best Picture of the Year at the Academy Awards). It's a powerful, thought-provoking film pitting Capitalism against Christianity with humanity as the only real loser. When the biggest complaint against a 158 minute movie is that it isn't long enough, it is most certainly worth recommending.

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©2007 Alex Sandell [All Rights Reserved]. Copy this without my permission and I'll make sure Shane Salerno turns your life into a major motion picture. That's not a good thing
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