Reviews: Into The Grizzly Maze

After numerous name changes, this grizzled flick gets a release.

"I'm just standing here struggling to
come up with ANOTHER name for this thing."
A misbegotten stillborn that’s more of a mess than a movie, Red Machine i.e. Endangered before Grizzly and finally Into the Grizzly Maze wastes the actors’ and viewer’s time with a grizzly bear chase/attack in the woods thriller that’s positively dead on arrival.  Sporting a litany of A-list cast members unlucky enough appear in the same shot with some of the worst CGI effects this side of Sharknado, Into the Grizzly Maze is a poor man’s The Edge that pretty much eats everyone alive who sets foot within miles of it.  Heavily yet lazily lifting from its far better counterparts such as Jaws and The Descent, this movie changes as many movies it rips off as it did hands in distribution.  Completed in 2013, the film was picked up by Open Road Films in 2014 before being dropped and finally garnering a theatrical release through Vertical Entertainment in 2015.  That it got this far is either a miracle or admission of defeat.  Whatever the case, the one thing it certainly is not is a good movie.

Jumpy and often incoherent, nothing much happens in Into the Grizzly Maze save for some scattershot bear attacks and small town American Hicktasia.  As previously mentioned, the wasted cast is overqualified and underutilized.  James Mardsen and Thomas Jane are mostly themselves with Jane’s local cop character receding into the clich├ęd hero seen in The Mist.  Scott Glenn, God bless him, is his usual dependable character actor self, playing a middleweight supporting character of little consequence or interest.  Only Billy Bob Thornton emerges intact, exuding his surreal brand of snark for high camp, almost commenting on the absurdity of being caught in such a ridiculous film project. The opening credits boast the use of the trained animal Bart the Bear, better known as the Bald-Headed Bear from The Great Outdoors.  You would expect with that air of animal expertise involved in the film that you would see impressive scenery with human actors and a bear in the same shot.  Instead, we get photo-shopped images of piss poor green screen and CG enhancement that actually elevates the usual Asylum Entertainment schlock to a somewhat watchable level.

"Why you gotta CGI me, bro?"
Reportedly Into the Grizzly Maze cost around $10 million to produce.  Watching the finished product you really have to wonder where it went.  Certainly not towards the locations, which range between actual helicopter photography and poorly rendered CGI.  If it did go to the cast, can you blame them?  I had to suffer through the banality and tedium of this thing.  Well imagine having to spend months of your life working on making this thing into a movie that will only serve to embarrass yourself and drain your wallet dry of any cash.  Pretty clearly Billy Bob took the money and ran like Hell, as any sane person associated with this project should do.  

If you’re looking for a good survival in the wild thriller with plenty of grizzly bear perils afoot, you’re better off with The Edge or even Grizzly Man for the dust Timothy Treadwell manages to kick up in the wind.  Don’t let the title of this one fool you into thinking its chock full of suspenseful thrills.  Into the Grizzly Maze doesn’t do much more than lay around like a dead animal.  

-Andrew Kotwicki