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Into the Grizzly Maze (2015)

Wanna see a schlock b-movie staring Thomas Jane, Billy Bob Thornton, James Marsden, and Scott Glenn? Well now you can.

The title may have given away that this is a bear movie

Brothers Rowan (Marsden) and Beckett (Jane) head into the woods of the Alaskan wild in search of two people - Rowan searches for friend (a poacher with a heart of gold) and Beckett, his wife. Fundamentally that's the whole story line. Add in that there appears to be a man-killer on the loose, and not everyone has a clear agenda, and the story is wrapped.

So neatening it up into a ball, it's a plot-less film in which two men and two women go toe to paw with a bear that's smarter than your average shark.

James Marsden (right) and Bart

It is nothing, if not predictable, but very entertaining. It's far better than it should be. Most of that can be put down to the excellent cast and outstanding effects.

Marsden and Jane do a solid job of brothers with a past. Both capable actors - Thomas Jane is a personal favorite of the site. Scene stealing is done, of course, by Billy Bob Thornton as Douglass, a gun toting, no shit taking, bad-ass bear hunter. Of course, Scott Glenn brings gravitas to a small, but essencial role.

The effects match that of any "monster" movie for theatrical release. The CG and live action bear is flawlessly done. It's gory. And it looks real.

Star: Bart

The film isn't without flaw however. Our brothers are first seen as children and are maybe three years apart in age and while Marsden is only four years the junior of Jane, his woefully youthful looks make him appear far younger than his only slightly older brother. This is punctuated by the actions of Rowan being far more rash and reckless than Beckett and is slightly jarring.

The female leads of the film - Piper Perabo as Michelle, Beckett's wife, and Michaela McManus as Kaley, Rowan's love interest - are clearly in the film to get hurt, be macguffins, and be generally helpless. There appeared to be no room for strong women here. Michelle, Beckett's conservationist wife is conveniently deaf and is in need of saving. Kaley is so ridiculously clumsy she falls over in almost every scene.

That said, it is a solid actioner, that could have take a little more time with it's characterization. Grab a beer, it's a fun, silly, ride.

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