PictureA truly great movie deserves a standout video presentation and this one does not disappoint. Hitting Blu-ray with a glorious 1080p High Definition rendition in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 widescreen, it really does look fantastic. The detail is phenomenal throughout, with the stark, barren desert setting allowing the screen to simply pop with minute detail, the landscape coming alive in your living room. It may be bleak but it sure looks real, the faces rendered perfectly as well, the close-ups of Day-Lewis accentuating every line on his often work-dirtied face. Skin tones are accurate, and whilst most of the other colours reflect the dour tone of the era, the sun-bleached scenery looks tremendous. Blacks are solid and deep, allowing for excellent shadowing and night sequences which also retain a surprising amount of detail. There is the lightest veil of grain, which seems intentional given the subject-matter and directorial style, and this is a praiseworthy effort which does this quality epic justice.
SoundTo accompany the movie on the aural side we get a technically superior next-generation Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track that presents the material in the best possible way. Although the first forty minutes or so are largely word-less, this is still very much a dialogue-driven affair and every word, every one of Day-Lewis' over-emphasised syllables comes across clearly and coherently - whether he is whispering or bellowing. That's not to say the track isn't populated by louder events - mostly explosions and oil-related disasters - but the focus is clearly on the powerful central character and his intimidating, often vitriolic prose. The score also takes a back-seat, drifting into limbo occasionally but rounding off the track with a broody atmosphere whenever appropriate. Overall it's not a big, loud, Hollywood blockbuster, but it is still a top example of a dialogue-driven drama getting pretty-much perfect audio presentation on the Blu-ray format.
ExtrasIn terms of extras it is certainly immediately disappointing that there is no sign of either a Commentary or a Making-if Documentary to accompany the movie. What we do get is perfectly created to tie-in with the production, however, from the lavish Stills Gallery that runs for some 15 minutes and almost serves as some kind of production diary (albeit silent) with its extensive depiction of the movie both on and off set, to the classic silent 1923 documentary which charts the rise of the oil industry in the period. There are also some Deleted Scenes, all worth checking out, but the most noteworthy Deleted Footage is the alternate, improvisational 'rant' from Day-Lewis' Plainview from the bar scene. Overall it does not make up for the lack of Commentary or Behind the Scenes Featurettes but it is a prime example of making the most of what you do have.
VerdictThere Will Be Blood is a prime showcase of how the right director and right actor can take the most unlikely subject-matter and turn it into pure gold. This is a classic epic, a dark morality tale about greed, obsession and driving obsession, infused with authentic characters, set to a rich backdrop and all centred around one compelling character - as embodied by the master actor Daniel Day-Lewis. For all his noteworthy performances, this is my favourite work from him, and it's amazing that he can take one of the least likeable characters and turn him into such a powerful, overwhelming monolith of a man who you simply cannot ignore and are positively enthralled by. On Blu-ray the movie gets superb video and audio presentation, along with a quality - if insubstantial - selection of extras to round off the disc. There is no hesitation in my mind about recommending across the board as a blind buy - it's a must have for anybody's collection. A modern-day classic.
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