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.
Straw Dogs (2011)
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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.
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.
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.
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")
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.
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
I tried real hard to like this film since I'm a huge fan of Walton Goggins, but this should have been left on the shelf.
The actress playing the wife did a rather good job, though, in a role that is not easy to pull off and achieve a believable balance.
Overall I wouldn't give this more than about 4 or 5 points.
Next time someone tries this I really hope they can give us something worth watching. This is a truly worthwhile script that can be done better, perhaps even better than the original. I'd like to see that.
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
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.
Marsden is pretty good here, though this is far from his best effort. To be honest, he has a distinct talent for comedy, and perhaps fits better in that genre, along with romance films.
Alexander Skarsgård is terrific as the primary villain. And what pecs! James Woods...well, I guess his career must have tanked, because this particular characterization is way below him. He ought to be embarrassed.
The rest of the cast do their jobs, though no one is outstanding.
I think this film is worth a watch...once...but I hardly think it will be a classic.
New but inferior version version about one of the most controversial violence-themed pictures of its day ; dealing with a known plot , as a young American and his wife come to rural little town and face increasingly vicious local harassment. The film, a remake of the controversially violent 1971 movie, is considered fairly faithful to Sam Peckinpah's original, though the location has been moved from Cornwall, England to the U.S. Mississippi Gulf Coast, and the hero's profession has been changed from an intellectual mathematician to screenwriter . The title comes from the Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu, who wrote, "Heaven and earth are not humane, and regard the people as straw dogs, " Straw dogs were used as ceremonial objects for religious sacrifices in ancient China. The picture is as violent as the first version , in fact, because of its graphic portrayal of violence and two brutal rapes, the British Board of Film Censors banned the film from being released on video from 1984 until 2002. The highly charged sequences of carnage in the conclusion make this a controversial movie similarly to original picture .
The motion picture was professionally directed by Rod Lurie though with no originally , resulting to be a simple copy from Peckinpah flick , being equally based on the novel "The Siege of Trencher's Farm" by Gordon Williams , including screenplay by David Goodman and the same Peckinpah. Rod is a talented film critic-turned-director who burst onto the scene in late 2000 with his hotly debated political thriller ¨The contender¨. After writing some scripts , Lurie was already hard at work at his next film, working with his acting hero Robert Redford. The result was the 2001 action/drama ¨The last castle ¨ (2001). It centered on an imprisoned military general, forced to go up against a tyrannical prison warden . He subsequently directed ¨Resurrecting the champ¨ and ¨Nothing but the truth¨, both of them were commercial failures despite some favorable reviews as well as ¨Straw Dogs¨.
Following both the film's original source material (Gordon M. Williams' 1969 novel "The Siege Of Trencher's Farm") and the 1971 screenplay written by David Zelag Goodman and Peckinpah, this particular version was moved from the original's setting on the Cornwall coast of England to a backwater town somewhere along the Mississippi/Louisiana border. James Marsden takes on the role of David Sumner (played by Dustin Hoffman in 1971), who has come to this small Southern town with his wife Amy (Kate Bosworth, taking over for Susan George) to work on a movie screenplay based on the 1943 battle of Stalingrad. And as it so happens, his seeming demure nature puts the redneck boys down there in the position of superiority over him, first when Bosworth's pet cat is found strangled in the closet, then, to make matters even more sinister, when Bosworth is raped by her former boyfriend (Alexander Skarsgard) and another man (Rhys Coiro).
Marsden, however, comes to his senses when he takes in the local mental invalid (Dominic Purcell) who has unintentionally strangled the daughter (Willa Holland) of the town's ex-football coach (James Woods). Woods, Coiro, and Skarsgard show up on Marsden's property and brutally demand that Purcell be handed over to them, but Marsden, knowing fully well what will happen to him, Purcell, and Bosworth, does no such thing. The end result is ultra-violent mayhem in the film's last twenty minutes.
Lurie, who made two of the best films of the year 2000 (DETERRENCE; THE CONTENDER) likely set himself up for a fall in trying to tone down the most objectionable parts of the Peckinpah original that made it, in the eyes of some, a "fascist" work of art: the rape scene, which is a bit too quickly done and a bit too aimed to show Bosworth as a feminist, though she is every bit as traumatized as George was in the original; and unwisely discounting the idea posited by Peckinpah, and based on the works of noted anthropologist Robert Ardrey, that Man's penchant for brutality and violence, far from the common notion that they would go to any means to protect their "property", is ingrained in him from the start. The other thing that is objectionable about this new version of STRAW DOGS is that, unlike the English village where Peckinpah sees the seemingly primitive villagers as every bit the match for Hoffman, the ones in this small Southern town are the unfortunate stereotypical inbred rednecks, especially Woods, who, normally a solid actor, is allowed by Lurie to overact outrageously. And the siege, though fairly well staged, is nevertheless so hyper-violent that the audience becomes a tad bit detached, instead of really being forced to confront their inner demons, as Hoffman's character, and to a great extent Peckinpah himself, did in the original film. Whereas Peckinpah was deliberately ambiguous and thought provoking, and not just a blood-and-guts expert, Lurie makes the mistake of trying to wrap everything up in a neat, albeit very bloody package.
Nevertheless, despite these flaws that keep Lurie's film from reaching the nightmarish heights of Peckinpah's, the 2011 STRAW DOGS features solid enough performances from Marsden and Bosworth, who are able to capture the psychological torment that their characters feel. They are still in the shadow of what Hoffman and George did in 1971, but they are able to bring a certain kind of resolve and emotional gravitas to the situation that Lurie doesn't always provide in his direction or script. Larry Groupe's score, though distractingly loud at times (this in contrast to the subtlety of the original film's excellent Jerry Fielding score), also works in those moments where it's supposed to. The end result is, like many remakes, rather imperfect. Still, there have been far worse remakes that Hollywood has done, and will yet do.
"Straw Dogs" (2011) did right, what so many other remakes do wrong. It didn't alter the story drastically or disrespect the original's legacy. The director simply rebooted and modernized the tale for a new generation. Everything that shocked you and every scene you loved in the original is still in the remake. The change of setting actually benefited the film and gave it a little more realism in terms of violence and social dysfunction.
The violence is high and the rape scene is disturbing. But the acting was top notch by everyone involved. James Marsden did a great job playing the weak, timid, and quiet intellectual who eventually turns into the strong, violent, and "manly" protector. His performance was very "Hoffman" essque but he still made the role his own. I think a lot of girls came to the film solely for Alexander Skarsgard (true blood fans) and they were generally disturbed by his turn as a heel. There were a lot of gasps during a particular bear trap scene. Bosworth, Woods, and Purcell were all perfect in their roles as well.
"Straw Dogs" is as raw, interesting, and powerful as it's original. A film that deals with aggression, manhood, and human connections pushed to the extremes. There are many subtleties in the performances and some great metaphorical images. A great thriller that literally intensifies until it's satisfying climax. Best film I've seen in months.
I think if you've seen the original, the comparisons will be inevitable, and virtually impossible to ignore given a screenplay that utilizes much of the very same dialog. Moving the story from the English countryside to the deep South was an interesting decision, setting up an expectation of redneck hostility against the refined sensibilities of the Sumners (James Marsden and Kate Bosworth). Reprising the Dustin Hoffman role as David Sumner, I think Marsden did a fairly credible job, knowing that he'd be compared to an actor who's established himself as one of the modern day legends.
Regarding Rod Lurie's reworking of the screenplay, I think there were a couple of points to consider that distinguish the story versus Peckinpah. The first has to do with the hunting trip. When Hoffman's character killed a fowl in the earlier picture, he conveyed a sense of disgust at the idea of killing a defenseless bird, further adding to the image of his character with no backbone. When Marsden brings down the deer, I had a somewhat different impression. It looked to me that this was a moment when his character realized that he was capable of killing, an inkling that the mayhem soon to follow would not be an entirely foreign concept.
Another more compelling treatment of the rewrite had to do with Amy Sumner. Peckinpah created a distinct ambiguity in the rape scene with his original screenplay. Susan George was torn between revulsion and horror against her assailants, and a questionable identification with her one time boyfriend Charlie. One could almost say that she went along with Charlie in a convoluted payback for her husband's weakness as a man. I didn't get the same sense with the way Bosworth handled the scene. She was entirely repulsed and humiliated, violated in a way that left her totally defeated and helpless. It gave more credibility to the way she would seek her revenge when Charlie (Alexander Skarsgard) and Norman (Rhys Coiro) square off against each other during the home invasion.
Let's face it though, the real reason to see this picture if you know anything about the 1971 version, is the finale when David Sumner decides to cut loose and defend his wife and property. For some reason I found it surprising that the rowdy hillbillies, led by Coach Heddon (James Woods), would be dispatched in the exact same manner in the very same chronology as executed by Hoffman's character. I have to say, the nail gun on Chris was an effective improvement over a length of wire. Scalding the coach and having him shoot himself in the foot seemed a lot more painful this time around when it was James Woods on the receiving end. This time though, the old bear trap maneuver was distinctively more graphic and satisfying, not to mention bloody. Poor Charlie.
The original movie has the dubious label of being a "Classic Movie" . To be honest much of its reputation is down to a notorious rape scene . That said Peckinpah was a genuine auteur who grabbed Hollywood by the throat , stuck a gun in its mouth and blew its head off . Hollywood was never the same again and it's interesting seeing some of his style recreated to a degree via Scorsese , Verhoeven , DePalma and Tarantino , directors who don't do things by half when a scene calls for literal bloody violence . Regardless of that STRAW DOGS isn't a great movie , having a rather confused story where a middle class non violent man and his slutty wife have to make a stand when their lives are threatened . If you liked the Peckinpah style you would have no doubt liked STRAW DOGS flaws and all but it seems totally pointless continuing the recent Hollywood trend and remaking horror films from the 1970S and 80s especially when absolutely nothing new is brought to the table and I had this down as yet another production line number with the setting moved from Cornwall England to the American Deep South . Add to this looking through his resume on this site remake director Rod Laurie is obviously a journeyman type of film maker and nothing he's directed ring any bells with me
I really must do the lottery sometime because everything I predicated was indeed correct and almost everything wrong with the original is recreated here with added dog poo . The couple of Amy and David was highly unlikely in the 1971 due to the casting but here it's even more unconvincing . David is a Hollywood screenwriter and one of the things that's always appealed to me on an abstract level is that Beverly Hills must be a great place to meet really hot chicks . Is trailer trash Amy really the best David could pull ? I know a lot of men have a fetish for plain faced , sexually easy , peroxide blonds but there's a large difference between having sex with one and getting married to one .There's also a very mall detail in that his screen writing project lacks credibility . Hollywood is doing a big budget war film featuring Stalingrad as the backdrop ! Yeah sure they are . When something does ring true like the Deep South having more than its fair share of bible bashing rednecks everything is so over done as to lapse in to parody . It also begs the question why would anyone want to return there if they can live in Beverly Hills ?
"Okay Theo is there anything about this remake that improves on the original"
Yes it gives an explanation why the film is called STRAW DOGS and the anal rape scene is slightly less distasteful than what we got in the original . Oh what a short paragraph I've just written
This plot summary is exactly the same for Peckinpah's original movie as well as this remake: in truth, the mechanics of the story have hardly changed.
But much else has. The move from the autumn chill of rural Cornwall to the steamy heat of backwater Mississippi makes a massive difference in the feel of the movie. And, less obviously, 2011 is very different from 1971 - yes, Kate Bosworth's sweaty and bra-less jogging T-shirt is indeed provocative but, in the present day, it is far less provocative than Susan George's coquettish displays of 40 years ago.
The character dynamics are different. Alexander Skarsgard's Charlie has inside him someone who thinks he is good and, perhaps, often tries to be, as opposed to Del Henney's Charlie, who was simply thuggish. Also, Peter Vaughan's bullying local bigwig is a million miles away from James' Wood's Coach who is entertainingly and hysterically psycho, albeit perhaps a little too far in that direction to be wholly believable. And James Marsden plays the passive side of David well, but he always strikes you as someone who is far more likely to be able to look after himself than the diminutive and nerdy Duston Hoffman.
What this film does is redecorate the room. It was always a good room, and now it looks different. Not better, not worse, but different.
"Firstly, Lurie has assembled a dynamite cast: James Marsden, Kate Bosworth, Alexander Skarsgard, James Woods and even Walton Goggins (who is absolute nitro-glycerin in FX's Justified) has a small role. The fact that Lurie was able to attract this cast speaks volumes for his reputation. Is this an award-worthy film? No. Is it a good time at the movies? Hell yes!
"A Hollywood screenwriter (Marsden) and his wife (Bosworth) are moving into a home in his wife's small rural hometown so he can write his new script, Stalingrad, in peace and tranquility. She had a small role in a TV show he once wrote but we get the impression she's washed up now (she's one of the many Straw Dogs in the film, a.k.a people who peaked to early but are now hollow and easily knocked-around and broken).
"Marsden is fantastic in the film. In fact, he's never been better. He exhudes kindness and decency. He plays the soft city boy with a heart. "The happy couple settle into their countryside mansion in the middle of a very isolated forest. In town, they run into Bosworth's old flame (Skarsgard). Skarsgard is everything that Marsden is not -- tall, rugged, manly and dangerous. The quintessential bad boy that all girls are attracted to in their teens but eventually grow out of... or do they?
"There are two themes running through the film. The first (and I'm not too sure I agree with this) is that a man can only be a man if he resorts to violence in order to defend his wife. Lurie also straddles a dangerous line in the film by presenting us with a wife who is a provoker.
"Marsden kindly hires Bosworth's ex-boyfriend to fix the roof of the barn... and then Bosworth proceeds to jog around the forest in skimpy clothing (no bra, barefoot). She then complains to her husband that her former flame and his crew of roofers are eye-raping her. Marsden ever so kindly (and he could've been an ass but wasn't) suggests that maybe she should consider wearing a bra next time. Bosworth is obfuscated by this suggestion. So what does she do? Goes upstairs, opens the bedroom window and proceeds to strip in front of Skarsgard and his crew. It's an ambivalent, tough scene that says a lot about feminism, power struggles in couples and highlights that actresses (in real life and on film) are a loopy bunch. Bosworth shines in this film. Playing both beautiful, sexy and aloof. A tough combo but she pulls it off admirably.
"Therein lies the second theme of the film: Do women want the stable, dependable good-guy or do they have deep subconscious yearnings for a bad boy? "So far the film is great. Fun set-up and it's fun to see Marsden create his writing workspace - - chalkboard with scenes and notes in a lovely dream office, etc. Marsden is once again great in the film, despite his thankless role -- the pussy-fied husband who must grow a brass- coated set of testicles by the end of the film so his Southern Wife can finally respect him... and he eventually does, in a realistic, believable fashion to boot. I won't go into spoiler territory. There are a few nifty surprises and great performances all around. "The siege-like ending is gangbusters. Violent and very un-Lurie-like. Marsden rises to the occasion and all the plot strands come together. Woods is great as a drunken high-school football coach who doesn't want his teenage daughter flirting with the local developmentally delayed man (Dominic Purcell).
This is a remake of the Pekinpah classic that is famous for it's ambivalent rape scene. Therefore, I'm not spoiling anything by saying that -- "Yes, there is a fairly graphic rape. Yes, Bosworth is ambivalent in the scene. Does she fight off her rapist as hard as she could during the rape? Nope. Does she kinda like it? Sure seemed like that to me (which will surely infuriate the feminists out there). There's also an incredibly satisfying final kill that involves a bear- trap.
"Straw Dogs is a good, solid movie with great, crowd-cheering moments."
David is a writer who moves with his wife to her hometown so that they can repair her family's barn and he can work on his latest film script. Trouble brews with the locals from the start, and we quickly learn that David does not handle conflict well. He is passive-aggressive, a coward, and has morphing morals that seem to apply to total strangers but not his wife.
The climax is a rape scene, not the assault on the house. However, the rape scene adds zero energy to the conclusion since Amy never tells David what happened. Rather, it is the protection of a stranger that gets picked on by the townsfolk that David decides to defend, instead of his wife, that leads to the epic battle seen in the trailer.
This film is an example of how not to film and edit a movie. The storyline lacks connection, using none of the fire-starters at its disposal, and leaves a plethora of plot devices open, causing you to wonder why they were included in the first place.
David's motivations do not make him a sympathetic character, and his reasons for standing behind his convictions do not show that he has gained any better understanding of who he is, nor does it show any growth in him since he gunned down a buck at fairly close range, so you already know that there is a killer instinct in him. Oddly, David hunting the deer is juxtaposed with the rape of his wife. So while David wrestles with whether or not he is going to pull the trigger, Charlie and Norman take turns with Amy. Why? What do these two scenes have in common, or how do they critique, comment, or form a metaphor for one another? The questions and more are left scattered across the movie theater as David stands outside his demolished home as the ambulance is arriving. As an audience you are left wondering why Amy didn't say anything, are they ever going to find the missing girl they were searching for, and how do these actions link with the conclusion? If you decide to watch this movie, do it with the lights out, the sound up, and your brain off. Understand that it will be uncomfortable for your lady friend when the rape scene unfolds. And, again, try not to think too much.