One of the primary reasons I wanted to see There Will Be Blood is the New York Times. From the study of Daniel Day-Lewis in the magazine to an article about Jonny Greenwood's soundtrack to the highly positive review of the film itself, it became a symbol of everything that was right with American cinema, as well as the film I most wanted to see this month.
Having learned that the screenplay was based on Upton Sinclair's Oil (which I assumed was like The Jungle, but involving oil in California instead of meatpacking in Chicago), I thought Daniel Day-Lewis would lead his gang of oilmen into various California towns, sowing murder and mayhem in their zeal for oil, leaving them the small communities empty and broken. Eventually, his comeuppance would occur at the hands of a charming Socialist organizer. This movie might exist somewhere, but it is not There Will Be Blood.
There Will Be Blood is not about oil, socialism, nor even how turn of the century California was some kind of pastoral utopia. The "blood" in the title is that of familial ties, not that spilt in war. As a result, much of the movie was slow and brooding, without much action. When events did occur, they came quickly and without much warning (fitting in well with the chaotic - and almost atonal - instrumental music that made up the movie's score).
This film was ultimately very confusing. Barely able to tell a coherent story, it moved too slowly for much of its duration and too quickly during its most interesting scenes. While partially redeemed by its impressively beautiful cinematography and scenery, it was ultimately disappointing. The film is intellectually interesting (both suggesting and dismissing that true rapport among humans can only be found with blood relations), but not the must-see that film critics suggest it is.