I’ve decided that Paul Bunyan was the Chuck Norris of the 19th century. Oddly enough, both “legends” mirror each other as well:
- Paul Bunyan stories were first told in the mid 1800s. He was immortalized as a larger than life character in the early 1900s. Chuck Norris was a championed tournament fighter that found success in the 1970s. He was immortalized as a larger than life character in 2005.
- Paul Bunyan Day is August 10. Chuck Norris Day (The International Day of Awesomeness) is March 10.
- Paul Bunyan drug his ax on the ground and created the Grand Canyon. The Great Wall of China was originally created to keep Chuck Norris out. It failed miserably.
- Both men have beards and are the epitome of what a “man” is.
Axe Giant: The Wrath of Paul Bunyan takes a different approach to the legend. It sours the story in the name of horror. It’s a strange concept, but interesting as well. The movie doesn’t quite pull it off, but it is watchable and fun in the right frame of mind.
The film opens to a group of lumberjacks getting ready for dinner deep in the woods of Minnesota. Snow is falling all around them and they are excited for their upcoming feast. Suddenly, a Jason-like character appears and begins hacking and slashing with an ax.
After the credits, the main characters are introduced. The state is running a boot camp for teenage first time offenders, and have a very motivated leader that watched Full Metal Jacket way too many times. A female counselor accompanies him and his co-ed group to the wilderness in lieu of prison.
After a day of hell, the group stumbles upon an animal skeleton and one of the boys takes its horn. The group leaves, but soon a giant hulking beast arrives and finds the horn missing. The group then spends the rest of the movie trying to survive the giant’s assault.
The story of Paul Bunyan is changed in this movie to be more of a horror figure. Bunyan had a growth issue that made him 3 times as big as a normal man and allowed him to live 3 times as long, but his brain would forever be stunted to that of a child’s. He is introduced as a smaller character (Jason-like), but then morphs into a CGI giant for the bulk of the movie (with time). This led to a bit of confusion (How did his ax grow with him?) and some sizing issues with the set (Sometimes he’s 20 feet. Sometimes he’s 12.).
The group is the usual cast of characters. We have an “innocent” girl and a group of misfits. They aren’t quite one dimensional as the director/writer made an attempt at character development (yeah!) so that is always a plus in my book. They don’t really elicit a connection to the audience so most of the movie is rooting for Bunyan to show up.
When Bunyan is on screen, this movie is kind of fun. Everything is CGI, and that’s unfortunate. Bunyan is oddly accurate with his ax beyond comprehension, but he is also strangely inaccurate when the story needs him to be. Of course, Bunyan is not an evil slasher. He is a hurt man, and the movie does dive into that story line as well.
I have seen far worse movies than Axe Giant: The Wrath of Paul Bunyan. It was on Syfy recently, and it’s currently streaming on Netflix. It’s an odd but interesting take on the legend of Paul Bunyan. While the story struggles, it does make an attempt to be something more. It was a little CGI heavy for me, but still an OK movie to turn on when you’re trying to relax and tune out.