Will you think the less of me if I offer modest praise for Axe Giant?
Hell, I don’t care.
I’m obviously going soft in the head, but this movie never promises more than it can deliver. I am aware that the CGI effects are one notch below cable access and the acting ranges from incompetent to hilariously hammy.
Even so, director/cowriter Gary Jones has devised what amounts to an intriguingly twisted tall tale that’s awash in guts and gore.
Nutshell: Five snotty adolescent offenders are transported to the Middle of Nowhere Mountains (filmed on location in Ohio, Michigan and California) under the supervision of Sgt. Hoke (Tom Downey), a militaristic hard-ass who undoubtedly has a picture of R. Lee Ermey next to his bed.
Hoke’s mission, to kick their criminal butts toward responsibility, is interrupted by the arrival of the legendary Paul Bunyan, who has an ax to grind (see what I did there?) with whomever desecrated the final resting place of his best buddy, Babe the Blue Ox.
The cast gets whittled down to a paltry few, including Meeks (Joe Estevez, from the famous Estevez/Sheen clan) a mad mountain man with a soft spot in his heart for the rampaging giant. Given such a juicy part, Estevez chews the scenery like it’s his last meal.
The giant’s origin is explained by way of an 1894 backstory that stars ol’ Grizzly Adams himself, Dan Haggerty. I don’t mean to be unkind, but he has not aged well.
In this version of the tall tale, Bunyan turns out to be a massive man-child with a ridiculously long lifespan and a talent for felling trees. He also bears a slight resemblance to a Tolkien troll.
The sympathetic brute even inspires a catchy Seeger-esque (Pete, not Bob) ballad that accompanies the credits, sung by Hick’ry Hawkins!
You’ve got to admit, an effort was made.
It’s 90 minutes of jolly crapola, but Axe Giant is at least swiftly paced pandemonium, as the titular lumberjack keeps busy making bloody cordwood out of the supporting cast.
It’s got a few laughs and even a brief nude scene. Folks, you could do a lot worse.
I must point out one recurring trend that left me smh. The giant is apparently stealthy! Have you ever heard of such a thing? Bunyan constantly creeps up on his victims and somehow gets the jump on them.
You’d think the approach of a 20-foot dude might snap a few twigs, but these soon-to-be kindling campers are self-absorbed to the point of oblivion.
Perhaps since he spent his life in the woods, Bunyan learned to tread lightly. Just a theory.