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Great movie, disappointing DVD special edition--5 star movie, 2 star extras--go for the single disc edition
on April 2, 2008
When is a "Collector's Edition" not a collector's edition? When the second disc barely has an one hour's worth of additional featurettes and other extras. "There Will Be Blood" deserved to be recognized as one of the finest films from last year. That's not to say the film is perfect but its flaws are pretty easy to overlook because of Paul Thomas Anderson's sweeping and ambitious storytelling. I'd recommend the single disc edition as the "Collector's Edition" doesn't have all that much in the way of extras. The single disc edition is really all you need even though it doesn't have ANY extras.
The packaging for this set is horrible (which I could forgive if the discs weren't scratched up in the process). How did this get past the marketing department at Paramount?
"There Will Be Blood" based on Upton Sinclair's novel OIL! gives us two portraits of two very different men both ruled by their own obsession--Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis in his Oscar winning role who seems to be channeling John Huston from the film "Chinatown")an oil man who in spite of his impressive skills as a smooth talking salesman, doesn't like people very much (aside from his son H.W. which he uses to help sell people that his is "a family business") and Eli Sunday (Paul Dano)a smooth talking healer and leader of the Church of the Third Relevation. Both men want wealth and power for Plainview its a means to escape. While Sunday sees the oil leaking out of the ground of his father's ranch to gather a flock, reach out with his message and, in turn, gain the power that he believes he deserves. The two men don't get along from the moment they meet--Eli is on to Daniel's "plain speaking" way of doing business and getting something for next to nothing and Daniel believes that Eli is a charlatan. In their own way each is a hard nosed uncompromising businessman with visions that don't mesh.
Robert Elswit's cinematography deservedly won an Oscar for the film and while the DVD transfer looks good, the night sequences are a bit murky and dark. Detail overall is pretty good with a color scheme that accurately captures the theatrical look of the film.
Audio sounds terrific nicely reproducing Johnny Greenwood's score.
There are no extras on the first disc which has a menu as plain as Daniel's view of the world. The second disc features a vintage silent featurette that runs about 27 minutes and uses Greenwood's score to accompany it. It tells the "story" of oil and shows us how oilmen hunted for it and brought it to market.
We also get "15 Minutes" a collection of vintage stills from the era taken around oil sites, behind-the-scenes footage and various clips showing all the work that Anderson and his crew put into researching the film. It's a silent segment accompanied by music and lasts, yep, just over 15 minutes.
Next up we two deleted scenes that last nearly ten minutes. Under three minutes "Dallies Gone Wild" is an alternate take of the restaurant scene involving Daniel, his son H.W. and employees of Standard Oil.
We also get the teaser for the film and the original theatrical trailer both of which remind me of the lost art of crafting a great trailer that will pull in an audience without giving away too much. All things considered, this is a disappointing "Collector's Edition" even with the awkward collectable packaging that is included (where the discs slide inside) and would be prone to damage with time.
Conclusion: A powerful, terrific film and one of the ten best from 2007, "There Will Be Blood" appears in a disappointing special edition from Paramount. The film looks fine and the soundtrack is brilliantly rendered which should be enough to get fans to purchase the single disc DVD and that's what I would recommend.
The extras on disc two of the "Collector's Edition" are slim pickings to say the least. It's as if Paramount rushed to pull this material together in light of the Academy Award nominations and wins the film scored. They are very disappointing for a two disc edition and I can't strongly recommend the two disc edition based on this. If you just want the film, go for the single disc edition and wait to see what the Blu-ray comes packs in the way of special features.
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