Wednesday, September 17, 2014

He's a Lumberjack, But He's Not Okay: "Axe Giant: The Wrath of Paul Bunyan" (2013)



You know your film is in trouble when the best performance from your cast is thanks to Joe Estevez.

A group of non-descript first-time criminal offenders are shipped off to a week-long boot camp in Minnesota (being portrayed by Ohio and California for this film). It is run by a Sgt. Hoke (Thomas Downey) and sympathetic counselor Ms. K (Kristina Kopf). The five criminals can avoid jail time if they make it through the tough program...and survive a twenty foot tall monster that is wandering around in the woods murdering bears and such. According to a very long expository speech from Meeks (Joe Estevez, who took all his crazy pills before cameras rolled), the monster is Paul Bunyan. The tall tale books got it wrong, this incarnation of Bunyan is bloodthirsty, overreacting to the death of his beloved ox, and seeks vengeance when one of the young criminals (don't worry about their specific characters, they are all dispatched without making any sort of impression on the viewer) steals Babe's horn from a makeshift shrine.

The fact that special effects guru Robert Kurtzman is involved with this silliness is surprising. The film is very violent, very gory, and very awful. The most successful aspect of it are the practical gore effects, but these diamonds in the rough are negated by amateurish acting and some of the silliest computer generated special effects I have ever seen. The film almost had me in the beginning, with Dan Haggerty still trying to be a horror film star (anyone ever seen "Elves"?), but then it quickly slid downhill. So many scenes had me laughing out loud, but the dead seriousness of the script made me realize this wasn't supposed to be "Sharknado"-type awfulness.

The end credits promise us that Bunyan will return (as soon as they go down to Best Buy and get some more of that special effects software). Here's hoping that is a promise the film makers cannot keep. "Axe Giant: The Wrath of Paul Bunyan" is tiny when it comes to entertainment value. (*) out of five stars. Watch this movie now!: Axe Giant