Valley of the Gods (Blu-ray Review)

Valley of the Gods Blu-rayStarring Josh Hartnett, Bérénice Marlohe, and John Malkovich, Valley of the Gods contrasts abundance and poverty through three separate storylines, featuring a middle-class writer (Harnett), 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.

Valley of the Gods Blu-ray



Valley of the Gods stars Josh Hartnett and John Malkovich and is directed by Lech Majewski (The Mill and the Cross). The film is an existential tale of two men whose lives are intertwined by fate. John Ecas (Hartnett) is a successful copywriter who has had enough of his mundane existence and wants more out of it. Wes Tauros (Malkovich) is the richest man on Earth — literally worth trillions. Whatever he wants he gets, and he has everything he wants except fulfillment. Tauros spends most of his time searching for meaning down in the cities below his castle in the clouds.

When Ecas and Tauros’ paths cross, both men are hit with epiphanies. Ecos wants to know what the meaning of life is and Tauros wants to mine sacred Najavo lands for uranium – namely the Valley of the Gods in Utah. These lands are guarded by Navajo tribesmen and they are not going away without a fight.

On the surface, Valley of the Gods almost plays out like a film that has no plot or coherent directions. It asks questions of the audience and of its cast. I was initially prepared to dismiss it, but the film has way too many layers that it would be impossible to dismiss it over my initial misunderstanding of it.

Valley of the Gods was shot on location and utilized many scenes involving completely CGI backgrounds and settings. The special effects are terrific, and I never felt that I was anywhere artificial. It’s a nice and grounded hyper reality. It is also sparse in terms of dialogue. There are many instances where we are the proverbial fly on the wall and just follow and observe before someone actually says something.

Valley of the Gods is an interesting experimental film that has similar themes to that of something like 2001: A Space Odyssey. In fact, the final act has a surprising scene that made me think that that’s what it would be like if the “Starchild” from 2001 landed on Earth and obliterated cities.

I am familiar with writer-director Lech Majewski’s The Mill and the Cross. I saw that film years ago and it was a visual feast. His latest film is no different but may be a film that will require more viewings in order to properly digest and decipher. With that being said, I think Valley of the Gods is an interesting film and I think people should give it a spin.


Valley of the Gods Blu-ray


Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Clarity/Detail: Contrast and sharpness levels remained steady and balanced. I did not notice any sign of tinkering or postproduction hampering.

Depth: Well GO USA tends to go all out in their Blu-ray transfers and this Blu-ray is no different. There are scenes that were shot on greenscreens that could have fooled me, along with some scenes shot on location in the actual Valley of the Gods in Utah.

Black Levels: Black levels are deep, rich, and inky. They fair the best in the scenes down street level and in Tauros’ castle in the sky.

Color Reproduction:  The color palette is really the star of the show. It is rich and vibrant, and I did not detect any instances of banding or pixilation.

Flesh Tones:  Flesh tones are nice natural.

Noise/Artifacts: I did not detect any instances of debris, noise, or artifacts in any of the scenes.



Valley of the Gods Blu-ray


Audio Format(s): English DTS HD-MA 5.1

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: Valley of the Gods may not seem like it packs a wallop but looks can be deceiving. The lossless DTS HD-MA 5.1 is a very dynamic and enveloping one. You do get scenes that are quiet one minute and others that are the opposite. They are handled perfectly on this Blu-ray.

Low-Frequency Extension: There are several moments throughout the film that take advantage of the robust LFE-subwoofer channel, especially in the final act through Downtown Los Angeles.

Surround Sound Presentation: There are some sequences that utilize the rear channels to great effect, especially in the final act that takes place in Downtown Los Angeles. The LFE-subwoofer channel makes great use of the scene.

Dialogue Reproduction: The film is a dialogue driven endeavor and there are many scenes of characters carrying out thought provoking conversations, which sound clean and crisp.


Valley of the Gods Blu-ray


There is an 20-minute making of featurette on the making of Valley of the Gods featuring the cast and director. What really stood out is Keir Dullea and how highly he considers his involvement in the film. He pretty much considers it a bookend to his career and a nice companion to his involvement in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. It was touching and humbling — his birthday was also celebrated on-set, as well!

  • Making of Valley of the Gods
  • Trailers


Valley of the Gods Blu-ray


Funny enough, I was actually going to lower the film score down a bit due to me being confused in certain parts, but as I continued to brainstorm this review, I just couldn’t shake on how unique the film is. It stayed with me, so I went higher on the film review itself. The video and audio are near-reference and reference. The extras could have been beefed up a bit but the making-of featurette is fine. I can’t say that this is the best existential-type of film since 2001, but I will say that it’s one of the better existential films in recent memory. Valley of the Gods on Blu-ray was awesome and is recommended!


The images used above within the review are not actual Blu-ray screenshots. They are for illustrative purposes only.


Valley of the Gods is now available on Blu-ray!




of the Valley Gods Blu-ray


Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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