As movies about killer bears running amok in the wilderness goes, Into the Grizzly Maze (R, 86 minutes, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) is just what the doctor ordered. The narrative’s greatest asset, along with Bart the Bear playing the titular character, is its talented cast, which includes James Marsden, Thomas Jane, Piper Perabo, Scott Glenn, and Michaela McManus (recently seen in Aquarius).
Back home after a seven year stint in the slammer, Rowan’s (Marsden) main plan is to venture out into the Alaskan wilderness to find a missing friend (Adam Beach). After bumping into his by the book, deputy brother Beckett (Jane), Rowan’s mission takes an unexpected turn, as the pair reluctantly team up to neutralize a bloodthirsty grizzly bear (Bart the Bear). The body count is piling up in the woods, with Beckett’s deaf wife (Perabo) among the bear’s prospective targets.
Joining the brothers on their deadly task is Rowan’s ex-girlfriend (McManus) and Douglass (Thornton), an eccentric tracker who knows these woods like the back of his hand. Glenn rounds out the cast of characters as Sully, a soon-to-be retired lawman with slightly compromised principles.
Directed by David Hackl, Into The Grizzly Maze could have existed as a shoddily made thriller that hung its hat on cheap scares and gore. Though the story is firmly ensconced in the B-movie universe, the picture succeeds as an engaging enough diversion, and the human vs. bear conflicts (especially the final sequence) definitely gets the adrenaline going.
Though the bear is the film’s biggest star, Into The Grizzly Maze also features solid acting from each member of the ensemble. One can throw Marsden, Jane, Thornton, and Perabo into any genre and they’ll deliver the goods, and having capable actors anchor the story gives Into The Grizzly Maze a surprising emotional depth.
But let’s not kid ourselves, Into The Grizzly Maze’s main attraction is watching a bear wreaking havoc on humanity. And considering the level of talent involved, that’s not a bad thing.
Into The Grizzly Maze hits DVD August 4 via Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
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