Hot Take: Would have been a decent Saturday afternoon made-for-basic cable movie.
Locally, Valley of Bones had a 1 week run. It’s still playing in a few theaters in its second week but while it was in 8 theaters within 50 miles of my house in its opening week, it will drop to 1 theater tomorrow unless there’s a last minute change to the local theater schedules. They did have to make run for It, after all. Over the weekend, Valley of Bones made 134,076 or $447. At an average of 5 showings per day on a 4-day holiday weekend, that’s less than $30 per showing. So, the 2 other strangers in the theater and myself for the final Sunday showing was actually an average crowd for the drama/thriller about a dinosaur bone hunter (Autumn Reeser) and a T-Rex dig in the North Dakota Badlands spawned by the discovery of a meth addict (Steve Molony) who was busy killing someone on his sponsor’s (Alexandra Billings) ranch. Sound a little far-fetched? Yup.
If you don’t like the main plot, there are many sub-plots. There’s the relationship between Anna (that’s the dinosaur bone hunter… and dinosaur bone hunter sounds way cooler than paleontologist) and her son Ezekiel (Mason Mahay). Anna had Ezekiel while she was in prison after her husband died due to a snake bite on an illegal dig on government land that led her to landing in prison. There’s the relationship between Anna and her husband’s brother Nate (Rhys Coiro) which was, for some unknown reason, a rocky one (he’s programmed into her phone as “SONOFABITCH” which is impressive for an old flip phone) but quickly and easily becomes normal once they begin talking about the dig. There’s meth addict McCoy who kills a few people, does meth, worries about the Cartel getting to his estranged daughter and poorly plays the harmonica. The film plays out like a big screen soap opera in a lot of ways. Without the sex or any sexual tension whatsoever. The fact that the ranch owner is transgender isn’t even a subplot. Not that it’s necessary but it is just interesting to note that a film with every ridiculous subplot known to man doesn’t even find a reason to work this into the plot.
Valley of Bones is a sub-par theatrical release. It has the box office performance and the lack of theater support to prove it. If you’re flicking the channels some day and have lowered your entertainment standards, the film might provide a forgettable 90 minutes of enjoyment. Gathering friends and watching it MST3K-style might not be a bad idea, either. There’s plenty of material here.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- I Like Dinosaurs
This ain’t Jurassic Park but there’s some cool paleontology hidden underneath this less than mediocre cinematic release.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Devolutional Entertainment
Valley of Bones never starts out as anything great but the first act feels somewhat competent. As the film progresses, it also regresses which leaves the viewer with a sub-par viewing experience and the gnawing feeling that this movie should have never been released in theater in the first place.