As we near the end of the year, there are still plenty of movies that audiences are looking forward to. The race for awards is heating up, which means that many of the year’s most exciting titles will be released in the next month and a half. However, there are very few titles left that are a total mystery to critics, who are typically the first people to see these movies. One of the last mysteries of the season finally has some initial reviews, and they’re pretty stellar.
The Iron Claw, which documents the rise to wrestling stardom of the Von Erich family, follows a group of brothers who all follow in their father’s footsteps by entering the ring. The movie is ultimately a tragic story since many of the brothers died at young ages. Starring Zac Efron as Kevin Von Erich and Jeremy Allen White as Kerry Von Erich, the movie also features performances from Harris Dickinson, Holt McCallany, and Maura Tierney.
The movie has already attracted plenty of attention thanks to the combination of its distributor, A24, and its director, Sean Durkin, who is known for making these kinds of twisty, suspenseful stories. Its cast of young talent, who underwent physical transformations to prepare for their roles as professional wrestlers, has made many people curious about what the finished product might look like.
Efron and White have been particularly vocal about what they put their bodies through for this film. For Efron, it was about modifying his workouts in past movies and allowing himself to carry more body fat than he had when he bulked up for something like Baywatch. “He’s so focused and knowledgeable on training, diet, etc. In terms of a physical transformation, I think he blew us all out of the water. He looks amazing in this thing,” White said of Efron in an interview with Esquire. White also stated that they both bulked up in part by just eating continuously.
Now, we have a sense of if all that work paid off. The film had its first screening for critics on November 12, and the reactions have been overwhelmingly positive thus far. Here’s what they’re saying:
Just how far The Iron Claw will go this awards season remains to be seen. There are often a couple of end-of-year surprises that manage to sneak their way into the Oscars race, but Durkin’s films have not yet crossed that barrier. Given how long many have been waiting to see what Efron might be able to do in the hands of a capable director, though, it seems possible that The Iron Claw could be that breakthrough effort.
The Iron Claw is set to hit theaters on Friday, December 22, just a few days before Christmas. It may not be the uplifting movie of the season, but it’s gearing up to be one of the best-reviewed.