Rotten Wednesday: Week 2

So on Wednesdays we tackle the aggregators for the movie selection.  As you already know, this week’s selection is “There Will Be Blood.”  Rotten Tomatoes gives this film a 91% rating from 212 reviews.  High accolades for that site!

A 91% is a definite watch for me if the film looks interesting at all based on first impression.  The trailer was quite well-done and sold the film as an interesting story of family and business life.  Most likely there’s a downfall story in there, too, for good measure!

Here are some highlights from the professional reviews:

“Anderson digs into the American mystique and into the vaults of Hollywood greatness to produce a picture that is intensely and thoroughly its own, yet teems with ghosts of movies past.”

-John Richards, Film Freak

“Loosely based on the Upton Sinclair novel “Oil!,” Anderson’s film is rooted in the classic battle between capitalism and religion – here signified by oil and blood. At its simplest, however, it’s really only about one thing: greed. Luckily, the director has a capable actor in the lead role.”

-Jason Zingale,

There are a lot of comparisons of this film to Citizen Kane, another movie I have not seen.  Of course it’s on the list, so we’ll be getting to that one for sure!

One potential cause for concern that I’m noting even from the positive reviews is that the movie drags.  At 2 hours 38 minutes I’m not surprised!  It’s better to go in know that than to sit around the middle of the movie angry about the slowness of the developments.

There are dissenting reviews from Rotten Tomatoes.  They are decidedly in the minority.

“The show gets old fast. Anderson and cinematographer Robert Elswit give Plainview’s world a beautiful golden sheen, fitting for a drama of the age of Manifest Destiny and so-called “self-made men.” We’re variously reminded of Greed, Citizen Kane, Days of Heaven, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, and even Werner Herzog’s oil-fire documentary, Lessons of Darkness — all better movies on similar themes. Anderson’s vision is finally too narrow, and that includes Day-Lewis’ Babbitt-with-a-pickax.”

Kelly Vance, East Bay Express

I also noticed an apparent disconnect between the critical rating and the audience rating.  91% is an excellent critical review, but 211,000+ viewers combined to give it an 84%, a pretty significant drop-off.  This would suggest that the film turns off the common movie-goer or is perhaps a bit too arty.  Considering the friends who recommended this to me are more or less film buffs, this doesn’t surprise me much.  To contrast, consider that very popular AND critically-acclaimed movies tend to line up nicely (93%/96% for The Avengers, 94%/96% for The Dark Knight, etc.), and you can see where such a difference can set you ill at ease. For my sake I tend to miss the point of movies that are high-fallutin’, as it were.  Therefore, it’s important for me to do some research into why this movie is so critically-acclaimed so that I don’t miss the details.  Likely, there’s symbolism and historical context that will go right over my head if I sit down expecting a popcorn flick.


About Zach

Zach works as a medical writer in Atlanta, GA. In his spare time, he likes to play video games and Dice Masters.
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