AXE GIANT:THE WRATH OF PAUL BUNYAN
Axe Giant:The Wrath Of Paul Bunyan is the latest effort from director Gary Jones (Boogeyman 3), continuing with the trend of Asylum released low-budget creature/feature films (for lack of a better word). Axe Giant is a film about a group of young adults who have broken the law in various ways and have now been enlisted in a boot-camp, rehabilitation program of sorts. The group consists of CB (Amber Connor) who was involved in a drink driving incident, Zack, the typical bad boy(Jesse Kove) along with Trish (Jill Evyn), Marty (Clifton Williams) and Rosa (Victoria Ramos). Sgt Hoke (played by Thomas Downey), is the Drill Sargent leading their expedition through the woods accompanied by peer counselor Mrs K (Kristina Kopf), who is responsible for the safety of the group. Shortly into their hike Zack decides to steal a fossil from a burial site and the group finds themselves being hunted by a giant axe wielding lumber jack named Paul Bunyan who wants it back.
The film also stars Joe Estevez, Tim Lovelace, Dan Haggerty and Chris Hahn. Like most of the films that either air on the Syfy channel or are released direct to video by The Asylum this one doesn’t really cut it. You end up with a pretty cheap product that relies heavily on the gimmick of bad CGI and the fact that people who like 90 minutes of dumb fun might… just might, watch your film (haha)
For once I actually think that this is a fun and cool concept for a film, not just another shark film (even though I like them). Like I said it probably falls in the category of the Syfy channel quality of films but none the less a giant axe-wielding legend is pretty cool, Am I right?? Given this is low-budget, I don’t actually know how low but I would probably guess somewhere in between $100 to $500-000 (don’t quote me on that), the look of Paul Bunyan is pretty good. He has some giant warts and long scraggly hair and basically just looks like a giant mountain man… literally. The films obvious technical aspects are pretty solid. The audio is nice and clear and the camera work for the most part is pretty smooth. The problems occur during a couple of the chase scenes where the camera starts getting shaky and during several of the conversations the camera zooms too close to the actors faces which is a problem aesthetically.
The score was decent enough but the southern twang behind most of the sound effects got old really fast. The highlight in Axe Giant is the body count and the quality of the kills, given the budget and time spent on this film it’s all pretty good. Sure, its digital effects and they didn’t even try to incorporate any practical blood unless it was coming from one of the actors mouths but still… There are enough fun kills here to satisfy most of the audience that watch these types of films. A couple of the best ones were the cool decapitation and some body splits.
Now let’s get to the bad because you all know it’s coming. It’s obvious from the opening sequence of the film that this crew were never going to be able to pull off the look of 1894 (and they don’t haha) so why bother?? I know they probably aimed to give the story and legend some groundwork and that’s okay but it’s not really what we’re watching the film for is it?? Combine that with the unnecessary CG backdrops (the bear and other animals come to mind), along with the actors faces being too close to the camera and you get a disappointing overall start. What made it more obvious was the fact that it started with quick pacing and some brutal deaths but quickly died (pardon the pun), because of those issues. There are also plenty of lighting/shadow problems during the day time scenes and a lot of lazy editing including starting a scene with a very similar shot from the scene before and that’s just not well thought out.
The acting wasn’t too bad but the weakest of the bunch was Thomas Downey playing Sgt Hoke. This performance just felt really forced and awkward. I’m not sure how the character was written on paper and whether he was supposed to feel real but this was no R. Lee Ermey that’s for sure and I didn’t find him intimidating or buy the fact that he could make any real changes in these kids minds. The rest of the cast had a few weak moments but were mostly serviceable given their amount of experience. Another thing, why set the film in Minnesota and then ignore the fact that there should be a mid-west accent or two amongst the group, surely?? Just from a few scenes I could tell most of this thing looked like it was shot in California or Ohio and sure enough it was! There isn’t any of that cool “Fargo” lingo which could have made this film so much more fun, darn tooting! (see what I did there..). Don’t even get me started on Joe Estevez as a crazy old mountain man who sounded like he was from the deep south??? I mean what the hell? What on earth brings him to Minnesota? And if he has been there for so long why does he have such a thick southern accent?. Just a lot of small attention to detail made no sense.
I can accept all of those things in a cheesy film such as this one but the digital and practical effects blending was just poor and it’s the films main selling point. I don’t mean special effects because they aren’t special. I’m talking about CGI characters in a real backdrop or a real actor in a CGI background, there is absolutely no need for it. Anything you can shoot practically you should and clearly they opted not too here. I understand the action sequences have to be created and some CGI used but at least make the foreground look conceivably real and have some continuity with the editing. This one has no structure and gives the whole thing such an amateurish film, it hurts the re-watchability aspect.
Axe Giant:The Wrath Of Paul Bunyan wasn’t a horrible way to kill 85 minutes. I think it has some nice shots and a fun story with a bunch of really cool and cheesy kills. However it lacks far too many of the basics that need to be done right in order to separate itself from any one of the other hundreds of films being made like this every year, therefore planting itself firmly in the average at best pile.
My review for “Axe Giant” is 4.5/10