a pro script reader ponders movies, reading, writing and the occasional personal flashback

Monday, January 28, 2008

There Will be Blood/I Am Legend

No real spoilers.

So I caught both these movies yesterday, in a rather downbeat double-feature; the wife and I could have capped it off by sneaking into Cloverfield, but it seemed like a bit much.

There Will Be Blood is definitely a great movie on a lot of levels; it's a very intense character piece, Daniel Day Lewis is mesmerizing, and Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the best directors working today. But it is long, and it does lack a particularly satisfying third act, at least to mainstream moviegoers. But I thought it worked. Not something I'm liable to watch again all too soon, but a very, very solid film.

I Am Legend is interesting and well made too, though it has some nagging questions to it, mostly rooted in the fact that the movie jumps into the story very late, and then glosses over the question of exactly what did happen during the transition from a populated New York City to the one we see in the movie.

Mostly the question of why Will Smith's character didn't save any of the other survivors that there must have been in the city at one point. Which could have all been interesting, particularly as set-up to the climax we get here, but instead goes naggingly unexplained.

Still, I generally liked this film as well.


In weekend estimates, Meet the Spartans has indeed been declared the surprise winner, with about $18.7 million. Its filmmakers also found success with Date Movie and Epic Movie, which I also didn't see, but which apparently weren't very good at all. Apparently with this sort of scattershot pseudo-parody comedy, quality really doesn't matter.

Rambo did about $18.1 million, Untraceable did an okay $11.2 million, and the well-reviewed How She Move tanked with only about $4 million.

Cloverfield dropped 68% in its second week, while 27 Dresses hung on pretty well and beat it for third place.

Juno crossed the $100 million line. Congrats, and it'll be interesting to see how studios try to figure out how to make another movie to capture the same audience.


At 9:52 AM, Blogger Emily Blake said...

I don't understand. Who is watching these crappy parody movies?

I'm sad now.

At 2:10 PM, Blogger Tavis said...


Family and friends of the people who made the film.

At 5:15 PM, Blogger E.C. Henry said...

Thanks for the mini review of "There Will Be Blood," can't wait to see it next weekend. HUGE fan of Daniel Day Lewis -- why isn't he in more movies?

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

At 7:29 AM, Blogger wcmartell said...

Check out the cinema on a Friday night - packs of teens that see movies more as a social experience than as a movie. This explains SPARTANS. It's amusing enough for them. Not us.

The best version if I AM LEGEND so far is from 1964, in public domain, and a free download here:

- Bill

At 7:42 AM, Blogger Emily Blake said...

But Bill, I polled my classes. Not one of them went to see it. They thought it looked stupid.

17-year-olds who beg me to show Saw IV in class think Spartans looks retarded.

At 8:57 AM, Blogger Tavis said...


True. A social experience. The movie becomes secondary-- and I'd argue that it almost has to be. What would be the point of going out to a film with your friends if you are going get too wrapped up in it? Best to be aloof. I saw my share of crappy movies when I was a teen: Three Fugitives, anyone?

At 10:12 AM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

Emily -- Clearly you have instilled in your students a sense of taste. Congrats :-)

E.C. -- Apparently Daniel Day-Lewis is very picky about his projects, which is probably a good thing. I don't think you'll see him playing the dad in a Miley Cyrus movie anytime soon.

At 10:29 AM, Blogger wcmartell said...

From EW:
...Meet the Spartans - its $18.7 mil gross is in line with both the $19.1 mil that Date Movie earned in early 2006 and the $18.6 mil that Epic Movie banked on this weekend a year ago. Troubling, however, is that the movie's CinemaScore was a terrible C- (coming from a crowd that was, not surprisingly 58 percent male and three-quarters under the age of 25)...

At 10:30 AM, Blogger Matt said...


Maybe they just didn't want to tell you they were going to see it. Trust me, this is the type of film 17 year olds love to go see in big groups.

On the bright side, when I saw There Will Be Blood there were several people that had to be younger than 20. No telling if they liked the film or not, but they stayed (and stayed quiet) for the duration.

At 8:52 PM, Blogger Erick said...

Normally a lurker here, but I have to comment on TWBB - I don't get all the praise. Sure Lewis can cry and spit on cue, but didn't anyone besides me find the whole movie more than a bit self indulgent (of the actor and director) and generally pointless?


At 9:05 PM, Blogger Patrick J. Rodio said...

There Will Be Blood made my top 10, but I agree, it's not something I'd run out to see again.

And as for Spartans, it HAD to be the teens. Has to be.

Also, nice to see EC doesn't think There Will Be Blood sounds a like a "lemon" anymore.

At 9:25 PM, Blogger LHOOQtius ov Borg said...

think studios will have a hard time making a film to capture "the" Juno audience, because I don't think it has one audience. It's a film that, due to a variety of factors, was in the right place at the right time to attract multiple audiences.

One factor is that, in a downbeat political and economic climate and when a lot of downer films are out, Juno is quite light despite its potentially difficult and melodramatic subject matter. It also balances aspects of how it deals with the teen pregnancy issue in a way that allows it to sit on the fence and avoid alienating either Liberals or Conservatives too readily.

Another factor is that pretty much every Xmas 07 film exceeded box office expectations (Alvin and the Chipmunks over $200M, you gotta be kidding) -- and Juno got an Oscar nomination bump (not as good as an Oscar bump, but it did increase its profile in the media), AND Fox advertised the heck out of it for a film in its genre and cost range (which they also did successfully for LMS).

Plus, it was good -- but lots of equally good or better films, often ones targeted at a similar base audience (hipsters), fail -- even ones which might even have crossover appeal had they gotten legs out the gate.

I am not sure that the Juno factors can all be deliberately repeated. I think the best studios can do is take more chances on cheaper films that aren't designed to be blockbusters, knowing that like with more expensive films some will hit and some won't -- but when they do, the payoff is a bigger multiplier. I hope they will, because that strategy means more opportunities for those of us who don't get those "hey, here's a million bucks, go write me a guaranteed blockbuster" type of calls.


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