Okay. So here's the deal:
'There Will Be Blood' is not a contemporary-Bush-slamming treatise. It's set firmly at the turn of the century. It's not a Magnolia-esque ensemble piece. It's a Father/Son story, plain and simple (and yes, set in Southern California). Daniel (a nod in the script to Day-Lewis?) is a down-and-dirty, hard-working prospector. He struggles and gains some success. One of his early endeavors kills a partner, which leaves him the responsibilty of taking care of the man's son, H.W. Cut to a few years later. Daniel is a respectable oil man, and H.W. is his right hand, illiterate and wise for his age. Daniel is presented with a choice prospect by a young man, and despite his reservations, pursues it.
The prospect is the young man's family homestead. The family is fanatically religious and quite dim. They sell the rights to drill to Daniel, and at first, things seem okay. The land is fertile, and success seems eminent. But troubles arise when the family's devotion to Christ gets in the way (which entails beating children). The eldest son (who fanices himself a healer) wants to bless the drill bit. And renovate the church. Daniel scoffs at this. And then disaster strikes. To whom, I will not reveal here, but it propells much of the story.
For 130 pages, it's a great script. Compelling and page-turning, there are graphic descriptions of how oil-drilling works and what happens when it goes awry (read: graphic deaths). It reads like any PTA script, save for any curses or debauchery ('cept for one moment, where Daniel's sex life is brought up). Everything is great... until the last 20 pages. We jump 15 years ahead... and it all fallls to shit. The narrative momentum has been derailed. The punch is not there. And with some bad casting, some scenes at end could turn out down right laughable (here's a hint: Stacy Edwards in 'In the Comapny of Men,' that's a fine line).
Honestly, as is, I do not see this movie getting made anytime soon. It's too big, too sprawling, and too depressing (not to mention the outright contempt that's displayed towards organized religion). There is no humor here. It's a straight-up, hard-core drama about the need for family connections, yet a contempt for humanity (my favorite scene has Daniel explaining how he hates, well, everyone).
P.S. The title has to do with baptisms.
P.P.S. I'm wondering at this point if this script has anything to do with Sinclair's 'Oil!' I have not read the book, but from what I've gathered, apart from the time period and the drilling stuff, it's quite a different story (and btw, the script makes no mention of any adaptation).