Straw Dogs (2011) Poster

(2011)

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The ambiguity and subtleties within every character's actions have been replaced with spoon-fed notions of right and wrong.
GoneWithTheTwins16 September 2011
It's a testament to the power of Straw Dogs' story (Sam Peckinpah's adaptation of Gordon Williams' novel) that the 2011 remake is still entertaining despite its numerous shortcomings in both complexity and artistry to its predecessor. Director Rod Lurie's retelling trades conflicted characters and intricate ideals of bravery and cowardice with plain-dealing motives and basic revenge; Peckinpah's flair for operatic visuals is sadly absent. So too is the contemplative nature of the whole affair – the ambiguity and subtleties within every character's actions have been replaced with spoon-fed notions of right and wrong. It's impossible to avoid comparison to the original film, and doing so would be a disservice to the discerning viewer. Those that loved Peckinpah's creation will likely find little value in Lurie's version, but for those who haven't seen it, the remake does offer a humble taste of the brilliance you're missing out on.

Screenwriter David Sumner (James Marsden) and his wife Amy (Kate Bosworth) move to her old hometown of Blackwater, Mississippi with the hopes of peace and quiet so he can write his newest script. When Amy's former boyfriend Charlie (Alexander Skarsgard) and his buddies Bic (Drew Powell), Chris (Billy Lush), and Norman (Rhys Coiro) are hired to repair the Sumners' garage, the bullying of David and unwelcome advances toward Amy begin. As the taunts and threats steadily escalate to a horrific act of violence, David must take a stand and defend his new home with an equal force of savagery.

Everything questionable, objectionable and controversial about the original Straw Dogs has been finely filtered out, leaving a straightforward, simple revenge story. None of the artistic violence, symbolic editing or jarring music remains. This update goes so far as to spell out the significance of the title, as well as adding the line "maybe you should wear a bra," which drastically dumbs down the purpose of Amy's appearance. If it weren't for the fact that the target audience is likely to have no knowledge of the 1971 version's existence, this level of defining, dulling and allaying disputatious content would be insulting. Extra references to the predominant themes, such as the inclusion of research on Stalingrad, further add to the intellectual affront.

Minor details have changed but the basic ideas are still present. Some of the original dialogue is reused (including snippet jokes that are no longer relevant), several scenes are nearly identical, a few props reappear, and even a couple of camera angles pay homage to Sam Peckinpah's vision. The competition, power struggle, vigilantism, Of Mice and Men subplot, conflict with religion, psychological breaking point examination and underdog vengeance aren't forgotten, however, and it's hard not to admire the cathartic power of the hero rising to the occasion and giving the villains what they so desperately deserve. It's essentially a two-hour, disturbing, suspenseful build to an explosive conclusion – one that abruptly stops when the last antagonist has fallen. But it's also difficult for Marsden to compete with Hoffman and for director/screenwriter Rod Lurie to match the originality and creativity of Peckinpah's turbulent classic.

  • The Massie Twins (GoneWithTheTwins.com)
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If you're going to remake a nearly perfect movie, don't botch it!
mikethevike19 September 2011
This remake has no reason to exist. It is shallow and poorly acted and lacks most of the tense emotions and moral questions raised by the original. Hollywood at its worst, cellophane-wrapped, uninspired, made-for-TV quality, cookie cutter remake. Of course, it is padded with clichés, cheap effects and mass-appeal frosting to bring out brain-dead teen movie goers. Why did a great actor like James Wood let himself get suckered into this disaster? This could have been an so-so B-action movie but trying to cash in on the status of Sam Peckinpah's cult classic is a really cheap move. It also forces me to give it a 1-star rating rather than a 4 to 5 rating it could have earned if it didn't ask to be compared with the former.

If you consider watching this movie, please rent the original instead. It is still as intense as it was in 1971 and actually raises a lot of disturbing questions. A true classic.
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1/10
Dull, unnecessary remake
johnno-1723 June 2011
Sam Peckinpah's "Straw Dogs" remains a most disturbing, morally ambiguous confrontation between the brute code of uneducated farmboys with the complex attempts at rationalization by a sophisticated, neurotic, hyper-educated urban college professor attempting to escape the responsibilities of living in an increasingly complex world. It is also a magnificently constructed motion picture, elegantly photographed, brilliantly edited, hauntingly scored, with powerhouse performances from every actor.

This wholly unnecessary remake on the other hand is amateurish swill - banal photography, drama-class acting (and why not? all the characters have been reduced to caricature), and soap-opera rewriting. It's basically a television movie with some sex and violence thrown in for the fan-boy crowd. It's even got the requisite car-chases, and supposedly pointed dialog about adultery and motivations, blah blah blah.

Graceless, visually dull, with no sympathetic characters, but a lotta boom! crash! foe those who think loud noises and pyrotechnics make up for lack of intelligence and imagination.
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6/10
What are You Capable of?
David Ferguson18 September 2011
Greetings again from the darkness. If you have seen Sam Peckinpah's classic 1971 original with Dustin Hoffman and Susan George, it is impossible to watch this remake without comparing the two films. Because of that, these comments will include some comparative notes. After all, it's been 40 years and most people watching this new version have never seen the original.

Director Rod Lurie follows the Peckinpah version pretty closely with the obvious changes being a move from the English countryside to the deep south (Mississippi), and the main characters are now a screenwriter and actress instead of mathematical whiz and ... well, whatever Susan George's character was in the original. Those are the obvious changes, but not the most significant. I really missed the subtlety and psychological trickery delivered by Peckinpah, especially in the relationship between David and Amy.

Lurie chooses to take advantage of the physical screen presence of Alexander Skarsgard (True Blood) as Charlie, the local stud and Amy's ex. Charlie's past exploits on the football field and his creepy leadership skills with his posse of thugs, provide the yin of physical strength to the yang of David's intelligence. It's interesting to note that this version spells out Sun-Tzu's description of "straw dogs" while Peckinpah left his audience to fend for themselves. But, of course, what this boils down to is just how far can a civilized person be pushed ... and how far is the bully willing to go?

James Woods is a welcome and terrifying addition to the new version. Since it is based in the small town south, high school football must play a role. Woods is the former high school coach who is now a violent drunk, and still leader of his former players. He is a sadistic type who picks on Jeremy Niles (Dominic Purcell), the slow-witted brother of Daniel (Walton Goggins) and constantly accuses him of inappropriate behavior with his 15 year old cheerleader daughter.

James Marsden (Hairspray) and Kate Bosworth (Remember the Titans) play David and Amy. They come back to Amy's childhood home so she can rest and David can have some peace and quiet while writing his screenplay on the Battle of Stalingrad. Well, we couldn't really have him writing a rom-com, could we? From Day One, the peace and quiet is clearly missing and Lynyrd Skynyrd wins out over Bach in the battle of radio volume. Tension builds and David is tested daily over what it means to be a man ... tested by the local hicks and doubted by his lovely wife.

Things turn from bad to worse when the locals invite David to go hunting with them. What happens with Charlie and Amy during this time changes everything. This sequence was the key to the controversy of the original and what caused it to be banned in many cities and countries. Lurie chooses to handle it in a very straightforward manner - plus, times and mores have changed quite a bit in the last 40 years.

For me, the Peckinpah original remains a classic film with brilliant psychological undertones which left me feeling very uncomfortable and questioning what I might do in this situation. Lurie's new version offered little of that but does work fine as a straightforward suspenseful thriller.
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8/10
Ignore previous reviews
garywhitehead073 December 2011
After reading the reviews of this film and seeing the original, I wasn't really looking forward to watching this movie but glad I did

I suggest to ignore all previous bad reviews & not to compare with the original 1971 film I thought this was a well made movie, with a good cast. The story line is similar to the original but in my opinion better but just bought in to the 21st century.

Acting was very good, very surprised & quite annoyed at some of the comments

I enjoy watching many movies & have to say this has been one of the better movies I have watched recently.

Watch it with an open mind Enjoy as I did. Very good movie
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4/10
Strong cast - sad remake script
kryoung0218 September 2011
As a fan of Alexander Skarsgård, I really tried to like the movie - but I just couldn't. If the hushed nature of the theater crowed leaving at the end is any indication - they felt the same way. I feel the cast did well with what they had, but the script was lacking in too many ways. Where the 1971 version had tension and excitement, the 2011 version was often boring and all over the place. I often felt like it was Texas Chainsaw Massacre decided to have a get together with Deliverance and Sweet Home Alabama. The whole thing just felt awkward and thrown together. There were only a handful of scenes where the movie actually had my attention - but they were few and far apart and short lived. There were even moments that were so awkward they were actually uncomfortable. I expected so much more with such a classic movie base and wonderful cast - but ultimately it was disappointing.
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1/10
bad bad bad
winner5523 June 2011
An embarrassing attempted 'remake' of a great piece of film making, by a cast and crew who evidently have no idea what the original was all about.

Peckinpah's original raised questions - you left the theater feeling awkward, self-conscious, asking the same question the lead character was asking himself - 'how do I find my way home now?' This pseudo-remake leaves you wondering, "Is it over yet? Why did I waste money on this? Won't this be show up on DVD soon?"

Because that's all it is, a poorly made routine B movie - part domestic melodrama, part crime shocker, aimed at the DVD market.

Wholly forgettable, with blasé cinematography, second rate photography - utterly forgetful.

See the original - a strange, uncomfortable and difficult but insightful film that holds its own after 4 decades.
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3/10
Insulting, as a Remake of Sam Peckinpah's Classic
Claudio Carvalho11 August 2013
The screenwriter David Sumner (James Marsden) travels with his wife Amy (Kate Bosworth) in his Jaguar to her homeland Blackwater, in the Mississippi. Amy's father has passed away and David intends to write his screenplay about Stalingrad in the house. David hires the contractor Charlie (Alexander Skarsgård) and his team to repair the roof of the Barn. Amy was the sweetheart of Charlie when she lived there and neither him nor his crew show respect to her.

Charlie invites David to hunt deers with his group and him but they leave David alone in the woods and rape Amy. She does not tell to David what happened but when the drunken coach Tom Heddon (James Woods) calls Charlie and his friends to hunt down the slow Jeremy Niles (Dominic Purcell) that likes his daughter, David decides to protect not only Jeremy, but also Amy and his honor.

"Straw Dogs" is an insulting movie, as a remake of Sam Peckinpah's classic of 1971. The original movie is one of the most disturbing that I have ever seen, with a stylish cinematography, top-notch direction and a scary story. This remake is dull, with stupid situations and non-likable and badly developed characters. My suggestion is, instead of watching this remake, see the 1971 movie again. My vote is three.

Title (Brazil): "Sob o Domínio do Medo" ("Under the Domination of the Fear")
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5/10
Good remake, although not as good as the original
room1023 December 2011
I expected this movie to be yet another terrible remake and turn it off after 15 minutes. But know know what? This was actually a good remake.

While the movie is very similar to the original, they did make some small changes here and there, mainly in the characters background and their motivation - which might help explain some things that seemed a bit odd in the original (for example, why would a beautiful blonde marry a geek). Others may claim the writer ruined some ideas.

It's hard and unfair to compare the actors' performance to Dustin Hoffman and David Warner in the original, but I have to say that all the cast actually did a decent job. James Woods was excellent as a southern redneck and Kate Bosworth was surprisingly good too. I'm not familiar with any of the other actors, who were all decent in their roles.

The ending had some small changes too - again, made in order for the characters to have a better motivation. Still, I prefer the ending of the original, which I recall was more intense and more "surreal", made to show a man protecting his "castle".

All in all, this remake is much better than many of the recent remakes I've seen (or chose to skip). Was this remake necessary? Probably not.

5/10 Worth watching
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7/10
What was shocking in 1971 becomes dull in 2011
seanhimdb13 February 2012
Warning: Spoilers
The reviews here fall into 2 groups: those who've seen the original 1971 version, and those who haven't. The first group review by comparison with what was a shockingly controversial and influential film in its day.

But the second group saw the movie without preconceptions, and I'm interested to see they mostly found it dull, boring, slow, pointless and generally unsatisfactory, despite a decent cast and smooth production.

So, what was shocking in 1971 is boring to today's audiences? That may be the most shocking thing about this remake. I watched both versions back-to-back to find out for myself, and yes, the original is a good deal more daring (for its time), the retread pulls its punches while otherwise doing a decent job of relocating and updating without changing the story.

One other point I notice: the reviewers who know about the location - the US Southern Heartland - are the ones most critical of the way the locals are portrayed.

In this I must say the remake more than mirrors the original: Knowing rural England of the 1970s, I found all the local characters very unrealistic and badly acted. I know the original movie is highly acclaimed, but really, the local English actors all came across as bit-players from the old Ealing comedies, middle class city dwelling amateur dramatics types playing at being working class country folk, with dialog and mannerisms that only a foreign director could fail to detect as phony.

So, a polished but flawed remake of an unpolished, also flawed, but controversial original. 7/10 for effort.
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