Sunday, April 17, 2016

In short: Into the Grizzly Maze

For various not boring reasons, a bunch of idiots and arseholes (played by dependable pros like James Marsden, Thomas Jane, Piper Perabo, Scott Glenn and Billy Bob Thornton) converge on a piece of Alaskan wilderness one character’s dead dad dubbed the Grizzly Maze because “even grizzlies can get lost there”. There’s killer grizzly stuff, brotherly reconciliation, and so many clichés any drinking game would be of actual physical danger.

Which, apart from the cast, all sounds rather second rate SyFy Original, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, while certainly looking much better than your average second rate SyFy Original, David Hackl’s Into the Grizzly Maze is much less entertaining. It might be its nearly offensive stupidity (yes, even in comparison), a script so full of bizarre holes, plain stupid plot devices and clichés its basically inexplicable, or the problem might just be that the film makes a lot of grand gestures supposed to suggest it is a nature strikes back movie on the level of Jaws when it is rather one on the level of Grizzly (without the whole “cheap as dirt” excuse the Girdler film has going for it, mind you).

The actors are completely wasted on characters that are walking, talking clichés, and not the kind of cliché that feels like an archetype but one that feels like lazy writing and disinterest in making any character here interesting instead of obvious. The poor people also have to get through dialogue as bad as it comes. Just try and keep a straight face through even a single sentence Thornton’s Great White Hunter character says, or stop groaning whenever anyone opens his or her mouth.

Even this much crap could still have been made watchable through competent animal attack sequences and decent thriller pacing. Alas, both aren’t in the cards either, for the animal attacks are generally neither clever, nor interesting, nor awesome but are set up with just as little intelligence as the rest of the film demonstrates, while the pacing stops and starts thanks to the film’s insistence on having a lot of characters that are only in the film to talk nonsense and spend way too much time on their uninvolving melodrama (whose ends and consequences are of course obvious right from the start in any case for anyone who has not grown up on some sort of isolated island where TVs and cinemas don’t exist).

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