After a night out for dinner, drinks and a movie Thursday, Friday's are usually calm affairs. Aren't they always after 30? I couldn't think of a good 80's movie to pop in to go with our pizza dinner then remembered we still hadn't watched the Thomas Jane, killer bear flick, Into the Grizzly Maze. With some Amazon credits burning a hole in my digital pocket, we ignited the nite with some Fireball and Strongbow cocktails and kicked back. Into the Grizzly Maze, formerly known as The Red Machine and Endangered is the tale of two brothers, Rowan (James Marsden) is the younger, troubled one fresh out of prison while responsible big bro Beckett (Thomas Jane) is second in command for the local law enforcement. After a 7 year stint inside, Rowan shows up one night in the beautiful backwoods of Alaska (played by Vancouver) itching to head into the "Grizzly Maze" a part of the woods known for it's dense forest teeming with grizzly bears. Bad news is that there's some angry, hungry and pissed off bears in those woods as loggers and changing climate has pushed out most of their food supply. Compounding matters is the fact that Beckett's deaf conversationalist wife Michelle (Piper Perabo) is alone out in the woods. Beckett's boss Sully (Scott Glenn) wants the killer bear X'd out but The Jane feels that should be the last resort so Sully hires legendary bear hunter and tracker Douglass (Billy Bob Thornton) to do the dirty work.
I'm a big fan of the The Jane and the prospect of a Jaws inspired, man vs nature flick intrigued me. It seemed like the film flew under the radar for a while, shooting in early 2012 with a surprisingly solid cast. Title changes, a few images, a poster and whatnot started to trickle out but no news on a release and it was quietly put out in a handful of theaters and On Demand this past June. It's a shame because the flick is quite enjoyable, heck, I feel like watching it again as I write this. The cast all do a good job, production values are solid and the majestic shots of nature are beautiful. There's some excellent thrills and shocks throughout, it's gory and the bear ain't messing around. There's some less than awesome CGI but come on, this was probably a sub-$10 million dollar flick. Billy Bob sports some gruesome prosthetic scars later in the film, limbs are torn off and victims are clawed and mangled by Bart the Bear. At a brisk 90 some minutes, the flick doesn't have the chance to put you to sleep as director David Hackl and writers Guy Moshe and J.R. Reher throw in plenty of action and frights. The lady and I laughed wondering if the sign language between Jane and Perabo was real because it seemed a little simple but hey, they're married so maybe they have a short hand. Now to check out TJ in White Bird in a Blizzard on Netflix and Vice with Bruce Willy at some point.