Cinematical‘s Scott Weinberg also saw There Will Be Blood last night, and is calling it “a stunning surprise” by way of a “departure” for director Paul Thomas Anderson — a monumental display of evolution that’ll wow the established fans and impress a helluva lot more new ones. This is a dark, compelling and effortlessly engrossing film, one bolstered by a lead performance that ranks among the very best of Daniel Day Lewis‘ impressive career.”

Hold on….”effortlessly engrossing”? Oh, he means on the viewer’s part…fine.

“The film will most often be compared to Orson WellesCitizen Kane, so I guess I can get the ball rolling on that particular crutch — but it’s also an apt comparison. Which is not to say that There Will Be Blood will necessarily be dissected and revered 75 years from now, but the stories are certainly similar enough.

“Anderson’s film opens with a long passage of dialogue-free footage: A lone man hacks his way through a mine using a pick-ax and some dynamite. The year is 1898, and Daniel Planview is about to become an oil man. We witness the man’s unwavering resolve as he pulls himself from a vertical shaft after breaking his leg in a fall — and if you think that accomplishment displayed some tenacity…just wait.

“The 160-minute film covers Plainview’s journey from rock-scratcher to oil tycoon as it runs over the course of 29 years. And while it might come as no surprise to learn that Plainview loses more of his soul with every package of professional success, the way in which this potentially predictable story unfolds is nothing short of hypnotic.

“And gosh what a beautiful film to look at. The turn-of-the-century Texas landscape has rarely looked this, well, real, and Anderson paints his canvas with some masterful strokes. The establishing shot that introduces the central town is nothing short of stunning, and there are numerous sequences that simply dazzle the eye. Cinematographer Robert Elswit — a frequent PTA collaborator — should be preparing his ‘it’s an honor just to be nominated’ speech right now.

“And the musical score by Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood is more than a separate character in the film; it feels more like an aural Greek chorus.”