Some bad movies, like “In the Name of the King,” are meant to be good. They’ve got proper budgets, great actors and at least a vague attempt at a story.
Then there are movies like “The Grimm Avengers,” which no one ever expected to be good. Instead, it’s a mockbuster, meaning that it’s kinda meant to use the publicity of big-budget movies to interest or confuse movie-watchers who aren’t paying much attention. They usually have similar titles and plot themes and get released at the same time as the “real” movies.
If you’ve ever picked up “3 Musketeers” expecting Orlando Bloom and Milla Jovovich and instead got some action movie about a woman named D’Artagnan trying to stop the U.S. president from being assassinated, you’ve been the victim of a mockbuster.
The Asylum makes a lot of mockbusters, some of which are marginally better than the original movies (yes, really) and some of which are much worse.
“The Grimm Avengers” happens to be one of the better ones. That’s not to say it’s a good movie. It’s not; it’s just that Asylum has a very low bar for “better.” You’ll probably stub your toe on it if you’re not careful.
As you might have guessed from the title, the movie is a mockbuster of both “The Avengers” and the television show “Grimm,” but its real inspiration, as far as I can tell, is TV’s fairytales-mixed-with-modernity hit series “Once Upon a Time.”
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
“The Grimm Avengers” starts off with a woman in a very obviously modern prom dress heading somewhere; when she gets there, we find out she’s Snow White, and the villainous Rumpelstiltskin has murdered her husband in order to take over the kingdom. Some stuff happens that doesn’t make a lot of sense, and Snow White, Rumpelstiltskin, and a bunch of other fairy tale people end up in the modern world, where the Snow vs. Rumple battle continues.
Actress Lauren Parkinson, who plays Snow White, has very clearly been told to mimic Lana Parrilla, who plays the Evil Queen Regina on OUaT. She does a pretty good job of it, but the derivation of the character is pretty obvious if you’ve seen the show.
Often Asylum mockbusters will have one B-list (or lower) famous actor or actress and then a bunch of low-budget actors of skill varying from “excellent” to “plank.” In this case, there are two reasonably famous actors: Casper Van Dien, who plays Rumpel, and Lou Ferrigno. Ferrigno does the ragey schtick from his “Hulk” TV show days in an enjoyably cheesy way, but Van Dien is terrible.
He may even be the worst thing about the movie. It’s tough to make that decision, because the writing here isn’t good, and the costumes are worse. (I don’t like it when women are generically sexy in movies; whether you want sexy women or not, when it’s done generically you lose an opportunity to show something about the character with her costume.)
Rumpelstiltskin is classically an ugly little dwarf person. And Van Dien is basically good-looking.
They don’t bother putting any makeup on him or anything to make him look scary, and he isn’t helped by having the wrong hair for the part or the fact that his costume seems too big for him. He’s not really a good enough actor to sell the part on his own.
The fun part of the movie comes from the “Avengers” part of the title: it’s a team-up movie with fairy tale characters, and all of them have superpowers. (Except Batman. Batman never has superpowers. But we’ll get to that.)
Snow White, the leader, who is very intense and angry about Rumpel murdering her husband, has ice-powers, and can spontaneously create icicles.
Sleeping Beauty, the spoiled “mean girl” type in the group, can put people to sleep instantly, like a 2-hour county board meeting focusing on ditches. (To all county commissioners: Thank you so much for doing that work so that the rest of us don’t have to.)
Rapunzel has incredibly long hair and fights using it as a weapon (this would have been so much cooler in a movie with the budget to support better effects).
Cinderella has… some sort of wishing power, maybe? It’s not incredibly clear what she does, but she can make things appear and disappear. (I don’t know why she has blue hair. It bothered me for a good portion of the movie before I got distracted by the zombies and corrupt police officers. Yes, that really is part of the movie.)
And then there’s the Batman. In this case, it’s Red Riding Hood, who wields a bow, doesn’t play well with others and wears one of the cheapest, saddest looking corsets I’ve seen this side of Frederick’s of Hollywood. … actually, when I put it that way, and taking the “Avengers” part of the title more literally, maybe Red is meant to be Hawkeye.
Anyway, her horrible costume is unfortunate, since she’s probably given the most characterization of any of the women in the movie except for Snow White.
The team-up and transplantation to a modern setting may not be original, but it is a legitimately fun idea.
It’s just a shame it was put in the hands of people who just wanted to show four scantily clad women running around instead of someone who wanted to tell a good story.
This is not a good story. Somewhere along the way zombies and corrupt police officers turn up, and both manage to take up large amounts of screen time without really adding anything but runtime minutes.
Red has an adversary called the Wolf, who is basically a big scary guy and not that interesting, and there’s a fridge-horror-filled subplot with an airheaded secretary who turns out to be a survivor of brainwashing.
There’s an even more laughable subplot where Ferrigno is turned into a whole different kind of Iron Man. And by “Iron Man,” I mean “guy with silver painted skin.” He looks like he has argyria.
And Rumpel’s evil plan makes no sense. It’s one of the dumber evil plans I’ve seen in a movie and that’s saying something. I mean, I’ve seen “Manos, the Hands of Fate,” in which the master’s evil plan is “get more wives.”
While I’d give the movie credit for making a couple of interesting choices (including giving Ferrigno’s character an actual character arc), and acknowledge its budget was probably the functional equivalent of 60 cents and a stick of chewing gum, it still earned the title of…