When I received an email about a fantasy/sci-fi drama including a writer, the Navajo community, an ancient legend, and Josh Hartnett, I knew I had to see the film. I sent out my screener request immediately and am glad to report that I was not disappointed in Well Go USA Entertainment’s latest: Valley of the Gods.
Here is the official synopsis:
Starring Josh Hartnett, Bérénice Marlohe and John Malkovich, VALLEY OF THE GODS contrasts abundance and poverty through three separate storylines, featuring a middle-class writer (Hartnett), an eccentric trillionaire (Malkovich), and a struggling Navajo community. Post-divorce, copywriter John Ecas undertakes the biography of the richest man on earth, who is dead-set on mining sacred lands for uranium. When modern advance runs afoul of long-dormant guardians from ancient legend, even the most unimaginable wealth may soon meet its match.
I am a big believer in viewers forming their own opinions on films, and my purpose with this article is to simply raise your awareness and hopefully pique your interest in this film. I will start by saying it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. It is labeled as fantasy/sci-fi drama, but I did not feel as though it properly fell into any of these genres. It felt more like an artistic, analogistic film, although I suppose that is not a legit genre label?
The film is cut up into segments, each individually named, and you have to pay close attention because there is a lot of dialogue and events that will not seem to make sense or even flow together at first. The segments bounce among several subplots: there is a newsclip about a company trying to buy Navajo land, then later we get to see the people who live there, including a man who is upset with his significant other about a baby. At first seemingly unrelated, we then meet a writer and watch as his rocky love life affects him as a whole. Eventually, the eccentric billionaire makes an appearance (he could possibly have his own movie with all quirks and unique lifestyle). Throughout these chunks, especially in the Navajo segments, there is mention of an ancient legend that comes into play towards the end of the film.
Told in chunks, these pieces are both interesting and confusing on their own. You have to be patient and attentive while viewing because in the end it will all come together and make sense, mostly. I own a physical copy so I am definitely going to be re-watching this as I know I did not pick up all the messages and ideas in one viewing. I know that I did not catch everything the first time around and I also have to admit that I did not fully “get” the film. Hence the plan for more viewings. While the film did not make complete sense to me, it was not so bad that I am willing to write it off as a poor film.
So what did work for the film? The actors. Josh Harnett and John Malkovich give solid performances. The glimpses into the Navajo community and their legends was interesting; being the geek that I am, I will be looking up books to read to learn more about the culture and then rewatching the film to better understand the parts of the film that center on the Navajo. The artistic style of the film was also fun to watch: the camera work and the colors and scenery.
Here is the trailer:
Like I said, I need to watch this more than once because I know this brief review is not doing the film justice. Once I do, though, I’m gonna need someone to talk to about Valley of Gods. It is available now on digital, Blu-ray, and DVD so hurry up and order your copy and let me know once you watch it so we can discuss it!