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Iron Will
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Iron Will More at IMDbPro »

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24 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

One Of Disney's Better Efforts

Author: ccthemovieman-1 from United States
22 October 2005

How much of this story is true is up for dispute. I suspect most of it is highly exaggerated. Nonetheless, it is inspirational and fun to watch: an excellent adventure tale.

The movie reminded me of "White Fang" with the winter scenery and the young hero, played by MacKenzie Astin, looking and sounding much like Ethan Hawke. The story was simply about a dog-sled race in the early part of the 20th century.

The picture is beautifully shot, especially the train scenes, and looks very good on DVD. The villains in here aren't as despicable as in other films, so it's more pleasant to watch. I enjoyed the entire story except for the whistling at the finish line which was a bit stupid, but that's minor.

This is one of Disney's better efforts.

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14 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

"Iron Will"

Author: tuckman12345 from United States
22 November 2005

Here's a "feel good" movie that I showed to a bunch of 8th graders who are "way too cool" to ever like something with a plot so contrived. I have seen it at least 10 times in the last two years. It has never failed to produce emotional responses, at least as early as when Gus gets savaged by the bad guy's dog, and Will takes out a gun (obviously thinking of putting him down), and most certainly when Will slugs the guy late on that evening. It has the predictable villain, and other events that most people could forecast, but I had kids who otherwise are apathetic standing up and cheering as the events unfolded. My conclusion: kids seem to be cynical and jaded, but when you give them a reason to be optimistic, they have hope and are uplifted. "Iron Will" inspires me; particularly when I see its effect on middle school students. I would rate it even higher if I couldn't predict many events in the movie. This really works well with other Iditerod/dog stories.

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13 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Go on, let the tagline decieve you... it's worth it, though it's not exactly true.

Author: anya_angie from Perryopolis, PA USA
18 January 2002

Being that I like to wonder about what really happened in historical films, I had been curious about what really happened in that race. I did everything I could to find out about the "real Will" and found out some interesting information. On a history of dog-sledding site it is said that the race made famous was dramatized in the movie Iron Will, was loosely based. That's an understatement. They change the hero's name from Frederick S. Hartman to Will Stoneman. It's not so bad, I love the movie it's excellent, and I suppose if they had kept the ending to what really happened it wouldn't have been so inspiring (nothing melancholy, but Frederick actually lost the race). What I like about Disney films is that they have some theme to it. Writers and English Lit teachers know what I am talking about: An inner meaning that the writers have inside the story. You see this over and over again in movies, and Disney is excellent at it.

The acting is great, the screenplay is all right, history aside it's not too bad. After all, history can be bleak sometimes, and hope springs eternal, we can always dream and imagine right? For film score fans like me, the music, which I always am interested in, is not so bad, the main theme is nice, but it's not as good as the music from Interview With The Vampire or Forrest Gump.

Bottom line, don't be taken too much by the tagline about it being a "true story;" if you do research you will be disappointed. Other than that, see it if you haven't yet. It's excellent. Just because it has hardly anything to do with the truth doesn't mean it's not a great movie.

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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

One of my favorite films!

Author: ztwise_3 from Canada
7 October 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Based on a true story, this journey begins in South Dakota in 1917. Will Stoneman is a 17 year old young man who loses his father. Will is left with devastated until one morning he notices a flyer of the Carnival Derby (a dog sled race from Winnipeg, Canada to St. Paul Minnesota) in which his father was thinking of competing. After getting his mother, Maggie Stoneman, to comply, she gets Ned Dodd, an Indian who lives with the family, to get Will straight into training. Once Will arrives to the competition, he is greeted with a ridicule of laughter, yet do they know how bad he wants to win. Will that be enough to get Will from the beginning to end of the race and win, in one piece through the meanest, toughest stretch of land, and weather conditions that he has yet to embark on?

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10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Awesome, Great, Inspirational, Heroic etc etc.

Author: anshul_shrivastava ( from MD, USA
8 August 2004

Awesome movie, In the same league as Rocky. Just too good. A must watch.

After his dad "buys the farm" in a tragic dogsledding accident, it's up to young Will Stoneman (Mackenzie Astin) to pay off the mortgage. And there's only one way to do it: Win a $10,000 prize in a 500-mile dogsled race. David Ogden Stiers is the railroad magnate who puts up the prize money, and August Schellenberg is the sage Indian who helps the plucky lad develop an iron will to win.

There was one more hero in this movie apart from Mackenzie Astin, the Dog "Gus" which in the movie was his father's favourite dog. The dog was really terrific.

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8 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Very Good Historical movie!

Author: speedygonzale17 from Canada
10 May 2006

I recently saw this movie again which I've now seen probably 4 or 5 times. If you like true stories as I do, then it makes the story that much more interesting and entertaining to watch.

Although there is the very sad, and tragic scene where Will's father drowns in the river, the rest of the movie is uplifting and you find yourself cheering for Will, as he physically struggles to make it to the finish line in exhaustion, almost beaten by one of the two Indians who later help him stand up as Will is greeted by his mother.

This is a "feel good" type of movie with of course, a sinister and evil Swedish man who will do anything to win the race, at the cost of the other dog sled racers who have done him no wrong. Until his sled dogs stop and refuse to race on, and turn on the Swede man in a rage, having been whipped continuously throughout the movie and terribly mistreated. They attack him and he is finally out of the race, and Will is vindicated.

You will feel both uplifted and yet almost feel like crying as Will is greeted by his family and many others who have come to the race at the movie's end to cheer him on to victory. This is the kind of movie that you need to watch if you feel like giving up on your goals. Will proves that despite his many adversities and struggles with fatigue, muscle soreness, a rival enemy, and bitter cold weather, that you can accomplish anything. His nickname "IRON" Will is clearly an accurate way to describe him.

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Old-fashioned heartwarmer

Author: Libretio
1 March 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***


Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Sound format: Dolby Stereo

1917: In order to save the family farm after his father is killed in a tragic accident, a teenage boy (Mackenzie Astin) enters a lucrative 500 mile dogsled race from Winnipeg to Minnesota and experiences all manner of adventures along the way.

Unashamedly old-fashioned drama for children of all ages, based (very loosely) on a true story of courage against the odds, played out against the backdrop of a world teetering on the brink of war. Actor-turned-director Charles Haid ("Hill Street Blues") bathes proceedings in a warm nostalgic glow whilst simultaneously turning the narrative screws for Astin (Sean's younger brother), and Joel McNeely's magnificent score swells repeatedly at various dramatic junctures, underlining the film's breathtaking visual splendor. As the young hero whose exploits offer a brief distraction from the nation's fear of international conflict, Astin is handsome and resolute and holds the screen with conviction, while Kevin Spacey provides heavyweight support as a hard-bitten journalist whose cynicism is dispelled by Astin's plucky fortitude. Also starring Brian Cox, David Ogden Stiers, August Schellenberg and George Gerdes as the chief villain, a nasty Scandinavian who seeks to crush Astin's spirit, to no avail. True, the storyline is contrived and melodramatic (especially the final sequence, when Astin finally crosses the finish line), and some viewers will find it obvious, corny and manipulative, while others will be swept along by the polished production values and heartfelt emotion. An irresistible confection from the Disney stable, and hugely entertaining.

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11 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

so cold, you feel some of it.

Author: jukebox-2 (
12 March 2000

We rented this film because Kevin Spacey is in it. When it came on, my daughter (12 yrs old) exclaimed "Oh no, not another cheap Disney film!" My wife also made noises of discontent and I was wondering why Kevin was in it and if I'd made a terrible mistake.

Well, it was good. True it had some bad Disney unrealistic heart-jerking story in it, especially at the end. The bad guys were really Disney evil, but the rest of the film worked.

Kevin Spacey gives his best at whatever role he tackles, and this is no exception. The sledding scenes are very good and it is really cold - you can feel it, and so can the actors judging by the breath.

The film get a few tears out and we decided that, although we never would have rented it if we knew it was a Disney film, we liked it. We give it 8.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

...a timeless thriller...

Author: fimimix from United States
28 June 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

From Hayes' and Milicevics's story/script, director Charles Waid has given us a film that will be enjoyed for that should warm many hearts. Those who put this type of movie down most probably are the very ones who need to get its message the most: nice people in a good story, with a thrilling ending.....Disney, or not.

Mackenze Astin was wonderful as "Iron Will". The kind of young man he portrays is not seen too often, in modern-day USA. Didn't you expect to see him whip-out his cell-phone and call for help when he needed it? How can it matter if the story is actually true ? It's the message of determination and upholding good, human qualities that wins the heart. How inspiring to see a film which teaches us that teenagers should know they are necessary to keep a family going, not taking for granted they are owed everything, and are willing to make their own way.

Kevin Spacey ("Harry Kingsley") showed his skill at playing any role. His writing "from the heart" certainly helped inspire "Will's" determination to overcome all obstacles which stood in his way, no matter what - the reaction between racer and dogs was graphically detailed in this film. Amazing ! George Gerdes Guillarson ("Borg") as the evil opponent was skilfully played, showing there is always a war between honest participation and almost criminal behind-the-scene dealing in any competitive sport. All of the racers' roles were wonderfully played. Every role was cast to perfection.

Sappy or not, we need more films like "Iron Will." I rate it at "20" -

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Iron Will

Author: James Cummings (Jwc1870) from United States
3 January 2007

I like this movie for its' basic "realism" It looks like America might have looked in 1917 attitudes included. The irasible Storekeeper who Will works for pretty well sums up the local attitude after the Newspaper man Kingsley sent arrives " Where's the box? " He asks, assuming young Stoneman has died in the course of the race. " Don't You get the Newspapers here ? " the shocked reporter responses and passes him several.

I enjoyed Mackenzie Astin's performance, but it didn't surprise me, He's Sean's brother and the son of John Astin and Patty Duke who both did a fair bit of acting. David Ogden Stiers' character was almost strictly Charles Winchester. I also liked Kevin Spacey's reporter out for the "big story" who in a sense was the biggest underdog of all... Imagine getting to page One in the midst of a World War from the K 9 section. uplifting , though not too believable. There's also that scene where wealthy gambler Angus McTeague visits Will in the dog shed and offers him 3000 dollars to drop out of the race. The Boy is sorely tempted and after He leaves, lead dog Gus gives him a almost disgusted look and Will says " I didn't take it... did I ?" No. young Stoneman is not cowed by anyone or anything but Gus the dog and is not all that nice... just human. Could it really happen ? doubtful, but then it is Disney.

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