This is the first of a few shorter write-ups for a slew of independent, small budget films that I’ve watched over the last week or so. While I don’t want to diminish any of the films’ importance or inflate my own by doing this batch this way, I do want to get the reviews up for our readers in the quickest way I can. Brevity, it is.
Its is often that you hear funny descriptives used for things that don’t make a lot of sense to those outside of whatever pocket of society they derive from; whether it’s arts, cinema, sports, weavers, whatever. If I was to say, “Corman-esque” to a random passerby on the street, I don’t know they’d get it. With our readership though, I figure invoking the Corman name makes perfect sense and so that’s what I’ll use to describe Axe Giant: The Wrath Of Paul Bunyan. Now, that is not to say it reaches the level or unique quality created by the man himself, but, the underlying spirit is there. The filmmakers here care and I will always, always give folks credit for that.
The film is gleefully low-rent the lion’s share of the runtime, giving us the standard checklist of ‘group of people versus a big, bad thing’ setups: the cardboard character types, the violence (mostly CG), the crazy old guy data-dumping (courtesy of Joe Estevez), the guess-who of who dies when and on from there. There isn’t really anything new in the structure of the film at all and that is more or less okay. We come to expect that from this type of thing. The acting ranges from barley there to over the top (likely on purpose from Thomas Downey’s Sgt. Hoke) and is never super engaging enough or super distracting enough to sway you completely in or completely out of the film. The four primary female characters run headlong into ‘name tag’ character types: the party girl, the final girl, the helpful kind woman and the heart of gold but bad news on the outside girl. The men are basically the same with the smug one, the closed off one and the shy but good-hearted one. Again, all well-worn territory in the characters department.
The story takes a group of first offenders (I think, they seemed to suggest one of them offended more than once but am unsure) along with a counselor to a remote cabin to be worked back into passable shape where they meet up with the goofily stern Sgt. Hoke. In the process of their hikes and runs and work, they discover and defile a gravesite belonging to the remains of what appears to be a big-ass steer. From there, they garner the attention of a gigantic axe-wielding mutant fellow who seems hell-bent on retrieving part of the remains back from our group. Well, it seems that way but the giant’s motivations are suspect as things seem to shift around a bit in that department. There is some back story to the giant told at the start of the film and later by the, naturally, crazy old man character.
Here is the bottom line: none of the effects are going to fool anyone, the up and down acting is pretty frustrating and the transition from back story to present day in terms of motivation don’t really make a lot of sense. However, setting all of that aside, if you want to see a dyed-in-the-wool B movie about a vengeful Paul Bunyan, well, this is the movie for you.