- February 27, 2015
- David Hackl
- James Marsden
- Thomas Jane
- Billy Bob Thornton
- Piper Perabo
- Scott Glenn
- Adam Beach
- Michaela McManus
- Kelly Curran
- Bart the Bear
- Luisa D'Oliveira
Take a solid cast, put them in a beautiful mountainous wildness, and unleash classic cheeseball “B-movie” horror goodness.
2014 thriller ‘Grizzly’ follows the recent, hard to understand trend of placing an “A-cast” into a “B-movie”. It may not have “the best of the best” cast, but with Thomas Jane, James Marsden, Piper Perabo, Scott Glenn, and Billy Bob Thornton it’s pretty damn good. It has picturesque settings, the mountains of British Columbia, Canada (passing for Alaska), and some decent horror/action movie thrills. But, it also has paper-thin characters, silly CGI effects, and down right insulting plot coincidences only a small child could accept. At least, there’s plenty of (PG-13) gore.
Like a poor man’s ‘Jaws’ inbred with the 1997 Anthony Hopkins/Alec Baldwin classic ‘The Edge’. Virtually nothing is fresh: from the estranged outsider brother coming back home to add needless character drama; to the reckless, veteran hunter whose lost his sanity chasing his nemesis; to the aged, father figure looking for redemption; or the stubborn cop who must abandon his principles to save the day. Thankfully, none of these clichés are lingered upon too long. And, at 90 minutes we get just enough time for some serious grizzly v. man action.
This is one seriously homicidal grizzly bear (played by Bart the Bear, the 2nd). This bear can not only traverse miles of dense, rugged wilderness in seemingly minutes, it can sneak up on virtually anyone before ripping them to dismembered shreds. One very “pissed off” bear.
Recently paroled Rowan (James Marsden) comes back home to Alaska to help an old friend in trouble. There he is quickly arrested by his sheriff deputy brother Beckett (Thomas Jane). And before he can continue on to his “rescue” mission a killer bear strikes this peaceful logging community–forcing all hands on deck in finding and stopping this bear.
In comes Sheriff Sully (Scott Glenn), Rowan’s old flame Dr. Kaley (Michaela McManus), Beckett’s nature loving and deaf wife Michelle (Piper Perabo), and resident “Quint” wannabe Douglass (a deliciously OTT Billy Bob Thornton). As Rowan goes off to find his bear-poaching friend Johnny Cadillac (a brief appearance by Adam Beach), Michelle is unknowingly hunted by the bear and Beckett blindly runs in to rescue his wife (and brother) with Kaley tagging along.
Incredulously, they all find each other easily inside this immense, densely packed mountainous forest aptly called “the Grizzly Maze”. Personality differences must be set aside and passions must be cooled if any of them hope to come out alive…blah, blah, blah.
Basically, the story stinks. However, the filmmakers (led by director David Hackl) do a good job of building tension, unleashing “the beast” only fleetingly at first. Teasing us before the film’s epic, non-stop back-half assault.
Other than Jane’s occasional mumblings, the rest of the cast do well with limited material. Any film that brings together Billy Bob Thornton and Scott Glenn can’t be all bad. Thornton is a hoot being ridiculous, offensive, creepy, weirdo, and a total bad-ass.
I was most impressed with Michael McManus’s performance as “Kaley”. Getting the best workout emotionally, running the gamut from unrequited passion, abject fear, intense physical pain, and raw, primal anger.
Most of the bear attacks are effective enough with plenty of blood and ferocity. However, Bart’s “acting” repertoire is rather limited: open wide and growl, run forward, open wide and growl, swipe claws, rinse, repeat. Most of the bear action comes by way of creative camera work, rather poor CGI, and a man in a bear suit. Take it or leave it. If you want a more convincing “killer bear” film watch ‘The Edge’ (with the “original” Bart the Bear).
Truth is, I love these kitschy “B” Movies. They’ve got everything going for them without the needless hassle of having to make sense. Just throw as solid cast into a grand setting, shake it, and see what pops out. It may end up mindless, but it can also be crazy fun.
So disengage your brain before pressing play, sit down with a big tub of popcorn, lower the lights, turn up the volume, and enjoy. The 2014 “Killer Bear” flick ‘Grizzly’ is a fine way to spend a lazy evening. Just don’t forget the bear spray;)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85 : 1
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Length: 94 minutes