Writer/director Stu Brumbaugh draws inspiration from his own harrowing, real life nature adventure to tell this tale of a hiker being staked through the Iron Ridge mountain range by a hungry bear. Jake and William were just two friends looking to get away from the big city when they found themselves stranded in Big Sky country. Later, as worsening weather diminishes any hopes of a speedy rescue, one of the stranded hikers discovers that he is being pursued by a hungry grizzly bear, and prepares to take a stand against the powerful beast. Written by
Iron Ridge is a very low budget effort that doesn't quite merit a truly negative review, but neither is it a quality film. The story essentially involves a hunter lost in the mountains attempting to survive, and the mountain rescue worker attempting to find him before it's too late.
I'll start with what doesn't work in Iron Ridge, the lead actors are not seasoned thespians so performances are spotty. The actor playing the part of lead rescuer is not up to the challenge of handling the role. That is, he does not have a relaxed manner in front of the camera, and seeing how his character is vital to the story it only hurts the film. Iron Ridge also fails to make better use of it's outdoor locations, there are one or two moments but overall cinematography is somewhat standard fare.
Here's what I did like about the film, the two men who play the hunters do a decent job performance wise and they physically look the part of young outdoors-men. The story of being lost in the wilderness and trying to survive is one I never tire of seeing, and this aspect is central to the film. Finally, though the DVD synopsis and cover art is somewhat misleading in that a grizzly does not play a major part in this story of survival, what very little screen time the bear has is worthwhile. Having collected feature films that feature grizzly bear in the storyline (odd I know) I've seen several grizzly thespians and Brutus the Bear is certainly a great example of the species, and has terrific screen presence.
This is a project I wish writer/director/actor Stu Brumbaugh had a larger budget with which to work, this may have corrected some of my complaints about the film. While I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to those who enjoy outdoor adventure films and there isn't any truly objectionable material for family viewing, it does fall just short of being a better adventure film.
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