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?
ferguson-618 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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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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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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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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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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A Real Dog
smokehill retrievers17 August 2011
While there are probably people out there who could pull off a remake of the classic Straw Dogs, this isn't the group.

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.
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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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6/10
Inferior but exciting remake about a writer and his wife are threatened by hooligans locals
ma-cortes3 March 2013
Modern remake from Sam Peckinpah's 1971 controversial shocker in which Dustin Hoffman, who starred in , and famously disliked, the original film, gave filmmaker Rod Lurie his blessing . Released i almost 40 years to the day of the original 1971 version, which came out November 3 1971 . It deals with L.A. screen writer David Sumner (James Marsden) relocates with his wife (Kate Bosworth) to her hometown in the deep South. When they return to her ancestral village tensions build between them, a brewing conflict with locals (Rhys Coiro, Billy Lush and led by Alexander Skarsgård as Charlie) becomes a threat to them both. Meanwhile David is working on a story about Stalingrad (the book is early in the movie is 'Stalingrad' by Anthony Beevor). There her former boyfriends become resentful , jealous and desirous of her , as she taunts them with her wealth and nudism and she is viciously attacked . As the marriage is bullied and taken advantage of by the locals (in original rendition were played by Ken Hutchinson, David Warner , Peter Vaughan , Del Henney) hired to do construction. When David finally takes a stand it escalates quickly into a bloody battle as the locals assault his house . David whose pacifism is put to supreme test attempts to protect a dim-witted man (Dominic Purcell) who is suspected of disappearance and molesting a young girl (Willa Holland) , his house is put under siege by the incensed villagers , but David defends the mansion with ferocity .

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¨.
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6/10
"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." - President Abraham Lincoln
zeeboe8219 September 2011
THE PLOT:

A screenplay writer named David Sumner, and his wife, Amy move to a small Mississippi town to temporarily live in a fieldstone house that Amy grew up in. Her parents are dead, and the property has been left unoccupied for a number of years. David and Amy go there to help repair the damages that were done to Amy's family barn due to Hurricane Katrina.

Upon arriving there, Amy runs into her ex-boyfriend from high school, Charlie Venner who still clearly has feelings for Amy and is prepared to do anything to get her back. David does not pick up on this sadly, and hires Charlie and his friends to come over to their place, and help fix the roof of the barn that was damaged.

Soon, tensions begin to build between the couple and Charlie and his friends.

THE CHARACTERS:

David Sumner - He is a pacifist, and overall a nice man who doesn't like conflict and is very passive aggressive. While in Mississippi, he is working on his newest screenplay, and hopes staying in a rural area will help leave him undisturbed. When conflict rises between Amy and Charlie, he tries very hard to be a diplomat.

Amy Sumner - An ex-cheerleader at the local high school, left for California and has had a little success on a TV show.

Charlie and his friends - Typical ex-high school jocks who can't seem to get over the past. They all at different times act very condescending towards David and Amy.

Tom Heddon - The ex-coach of the local high school football team. Heddon is the leader of the group of Charlie and his friends who all once played football for him. He has a very bad temper. James Woods plays this role and he steals the show in my view. His performance is amazing. He is down right scary in this movie and made me more uncomfortable then any of the other characters. It's really no wonder Charlie and his friends are so messed up, and have trouble getting over the past because they all look up to Heddon, and he is just as guilty of holding onto the past, and treating life like it's one big football game.

MY THOUGHTS:

For the most part, I am not a fan of the remakes, but I enjoyed this one. Mostly because I was able to relate to it since it's set in modern times in the United States of America. I'm also from the South, and I know all about how down here, some people try to force hunting, high school football, and church on you. (And yet still sin like Satan.) I also am aware how certain men cannot let go of their high school years.

HOW THIS FILM COMPARES TO THE ORIGINAL:

What makes this film different then the original film is the main character "David" was not the hero in Sam Peckinpath's film. He was, according to Peckinpah, the bad guy of the movie. In the remake, David is just a good man who is sadly caught between a rock and a hard place, and is just trying to survive. Overall, the remake took out the controversy and gave us a thriller of good vs. evil.

WHO I THINK WILL ENJOY THIS FILM:

I think this is more of an adult film. People in their late-twenties and up will enjoy it. I also think people who have ever been bullied or made to feel like outsiders will enjoy this film as well. I also think mature adult couples will like it since facing conflict and standing up for your wife sometimes is all apart of having one.

WHO I THINK WILL NOT ENJOY THIS FILM:

I think some of the testosterone-filled males in the teenage and college crowd, and the young women who love them, as well as the adult children will have trouble getting into this movie because they will be looking for violence, but in this film, the violence builds up. It doesn't just show violence and gore for the sake of it. There's no CGI, no loud music, no fast car chase scenes. Just a classic fish-out-of water story.

I think some people who don't like violence in movies should stay away from this one. I think some Christians won't like the movie due to the violence too, and/or some traditional Southerners, and the people who love them, as well as former or current popular high school kids because it portrays them all in a very negative light. It will show a side to them that they will not like, and will not be able to handle.

For the most part, movies where high school football is the topic, the characters are presented as cool people, but this film shows how many outsiders view them, and like I typed, some former or current popular kids will have trouble dealing with that, knowing not everyone liked or likes them, and sees them as crazy and violent fanatics.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

I think the pacing was wonderful. Not too fast, not too slow. I enjoyed the instrumental soundtrack. It has a beautiful, yet chilling sound to it which sums up some parts of the South in my view.

In this film, I don't think the lesson was just another "stand up to the bullies" movie. I think the lesson was learning how to accept those that are different from you.
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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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2/10
Nah
eric-frisco24 September 2011
Warning: Spoilers
When I heard about "straw dogs the remake" I thought it was the last thing the world needed. But i decided to give it a shot, being a solid fan of the original by Peckinpah. There's a lot i didn't like about this remake. First i didn't like they changed Sumner into a screenwriter instead of a professor, i mean WTH? That's so cliché. And I just think you can't replace Hoffman as the lead and get away with it. He was too good in the original. And Kate bosworth she's all right, I'm a fan of hers, but she's not like amazing for the role. Overall, I think was not needed. It didn't improve upon the original film. It's just roughly the same story, it didn't even have to be called a remake. Humble opinion is it ought not be remade this way.
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7/10
No suspense throughout most of film...we already know what will happen Warning: Spoilers
This is not really my kind of film...excessive violence. I do like suspense films, however, and in this particular case, I have come to like James Marsden, so I took a chance. I actually felt that the film is better than generally rated. So why did it do so poorly? I think there are two reasons. First, I didn't find Kate Bosworth to be at all an appealing or sympathetic victim in this film. Second, and perhaps more importantly, because this is a remake, we all basically know what's going to happen. There's little or no suspense through almost the entire film (although the climax is a humdinger). There's also at least one significant mistake that damages the plot -- Marsden's wife would know it wasn't hunting season since she was a native...thus making the rape scene something that wouldn't be realistic.

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.
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7/10
Impefect Remake Of Peckinpah's Nightmarish Classic--But I've Seen Much Worse
virek21316 September 2011
Warning: Spoilers
It would appear that in the 21st century, everything old is new again. And perhaps nowhere is that more true than in Hollywood. Whether it is in remakes or sequels, Hollywood has this way of repeating itself. As a result, it seems most unsettling that one of the films from the past that should be remade for a 21st century audience would be a film that, when released near the end of 1971, caused extreme uproar because of its explicit violence and sexual material. The film in question is director Sam Peckinpah's controversial shocker STRAW DOGS, which remains, alongside Stanley Kubrick's A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, among the most hotly debated films of its time or any time in history. For whatever reason, though, Hollywood thought it needed an updating, and so former film critic turned director/screenwriter Rod Lurie stepped into the shoes of "Bloody Sam" to do it.

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.
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Intense film, great acting, true to the original
ManBehindTheMask6317 September 2011
Sam Peckinpah's original classic is one of my favorite thrillers. So when I heard they were remaking "Straw dogs", I wasn't surprised but somewhat leery of having high expectations. But once I read the casting and saw the trailer, I became excited for the remake. I was not let down. "Straw Dogs" is one of the most intense films I've seen in years.

"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.
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1/10
don't waste your time
sara_bradberry2 October 2011
Me and my roommates were all so excited to see this movie, and they are both obsessed with Alexander Skarsgard, which I will admit was the only awesome thing about this movie. None of us could remember the last time we had seen a movie so we despised so much. There was no plot development, you don't get to know any of the characters, and all in all, it was just plain and dull from beginning to end. Even in the ending where the action kind of picks up a little, I suppose, the conclusion was aaaaawful, I tried to appreciate it in a tormented "Funny Games" kind of way, and I just couldn't do it. This movie was a complete flop. Ugh.
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8/10
"Get your Daddy's gun, and shoot anyone that's not me".
classicsoncall18 September 2011
Warning: Spoilers
As a warm up for this picture, I watched the Peckinpah version just last week, having seen it during it's initial release back in 1971 and one other time a couple of years ago. I'm generally predisposed to original films and not their sequels, so my antenna was up for this picture figuring that I would likely be disappointed on one hand, while realizing that films made today make the most of a grittier and more intense style when it comes to themes of violence and revenge. I'm going to go out on a limb and take the minority view here (so far), as I found the picture to be a worthy remake and a compelling story in it's own right.

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.
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2/10
Poor excuse for a thriller movie
Shuree0425 September 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I would give anything to have the 10 bucks I paid to see this awful movie back! Bad acting, ZERO suspense, cheaply made and directed all are things that describe what this was. From the idiot husband, to the ever so random angry coach, to the completely unnecessary explicit rape scene, there was not one decent moment in this film. It was a total disaster! It felt like it just drug on for hours before finally getting to the point. And when it did, it definitely just led to disappointment. If I can stop just ONE person from paying their hard earned money on this movie then it will have been worth the time I took to write! Please spare yourself the 110 agonizing minutes and do something more useful/entertaining with your time!!!
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9/10
The B Team hits one out of the park
Mfbarry-90-7735075 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
The original 1971 "Straw Dogs" is one of my favorite films of all time. Rod Lurie's update of "Straw Dogs" is a major improvement in several ways.The most obvious being Kate Bosworth's character, Amy. No longer is Amy a one dimensional "evil, back stabbing temptress." Amy can still be a petulant child, but she is no longer driven by spite. This is an important distinction and prevents her character from becoming "one of them," betraying David, earning the audiences anger and losing their understanding. Amy still "relaxes" about mid way thru the rape, not because she is excited but because she is disgusted with Charlie and with herself. Let me be clear: she doesn't blame herself for the rape! she's disgusted that she could ever have desired Charlie in the first place. Charlie realizes he has completely deluded himself and lost Amy in the worst way imaginable. Amy no longer sees Charlie as a human being never mind her old high school flame. It is with this realization that Charlie DOES stop being human and turn his back on Amy....high school..homecoming king..all his past accomplishments and also his future. Amy's cries for help fall on deaf ears. Kate Bosworth exhibits a depth here I didn't know she had. Her character of Amy, though flawed and STILL not as well developed as David and Charlie, is quite an accomplishment. You have no doubt where her emotions lie during some pretty raw, complex scenes. Alexander Skarsgard is equally if not more impressive. His performance of Charlie is nothing short of revelatory. Charlie is an "uber-villian," not only did he rape David's wife, he set up David to be killed! AND IT WAS PRE-PLANNED! This is a bad guy! Yet Skarsgard is able to bring layers to the character that make you feel sorry for Charlie (no pun intended!) His constant struggle to get out from underneath the shadow that has haunted him since high school. The shadow that James Woods' "Coach" represents. The shadow that Amy (and David) have evaded. The shadow that engulfs him, the shadow that makes him HATE them (Amy & David). In the middle of these two is, of course, our hero (anti-hero?) David Sumner. The center piece, the force around which the others gravitate. Without a strong performance here the movie falls apart. James Marsden has always been capable in the X-Men movies, but whereas in the comics Cyclops is THE leader, in the movies, Marsden just kind of fades into the background, giving up the lead to Wolverine. His performance here makes me want to believe its more than just a one-off. From slapping the hundred dollar bill on the bar (he has no idea he's insulting them) to shooting the deer in the forest (tragic?) to the end scene ("I got them all" is that a smile on his face?) this is an Oscar worthy performance. A multi-layered performance to his character that just wasn't there in the original. Which brings us to Rod Lurie. First thing I realized when I started watching his 2011 version of "Straw Dogs," is Mr. Lurie knows the original AND is a huge fan. This is not a remake, nor an homage so much as a realization of the potential of the original material. Peckinpah's "Straw Dogs" has always been a flawed masterpiece by those who love it, myself included. Dustin Hoffman is at his peak, Susan George gives the performance of her career. David Warner (God himself) would never be better. The build up to the climax is unbearable. But there are problems. Amy's former "friends" are interchangeable. The two leads themselves are hard to emphasize with. Amy isn't just childish, she's vain, opportunistic and she stabs David in the back to save her own skin (we won't go into the "rape is enjoyable" misogynist fantasy here.) Davis IS a coward, he ran from the states not because he was avoiding the war but because he wants to avoid the CONFLICT over the war. Not exactly admirable. Throughout the movie David and Amy's "snipes" at each other are made out of spite and escalate accordingly. Unlikeable characters. And they are the two leads! I can't tell you the names of Charlie's friends in the original but I can tell you they're names after one viewing of the remake. This is where Rod Lurie shines. He has filled the movie out in ways few people would realize. For instance, no longer is David a mathematician, above Amy's head, now he's a writer, she's an actor. They are on equal ground. this is a significant change in establishing their relationship. In Lurie's version, David is no longer the failed father figure to Amy's ingénue. David even worked as the writer on Amy's TV show in the new version! Amy and David have a confidence both in themselves and as a couple not on display in the original. Something Charlie clearly lacks. He's still there. Lost in the past. And here again Mr. Lurie is able to fill this in by putting the story in the gulf coast. Not only have the local "boys" lost their youth and their football dreams, they have lost their self respect and their future....there is no work! Mr. Lurie drives this home by having David (!?!) talk of the economy and, of course, when he has Miss Bosworth say "They don't need sympathy, they need jobs." Some other nice touches on Mr. Lurie's part that add exceptional resonance to the characters: having James Woods Character, Coach drive most of the reprehensible action. He's still "coaching" the "boys!" How humiliating! A point driven home even further when he has Norman say "You're the quarterback" at the exact moment Charlie realizes he is nothing but a follower and always will be. Strong Stuff. This isn't a remake, a re-imagining or a reboot. It is, as Peckinpah would say, Just damn good film making."
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5/10
Lacks Any Teeth of Its Own
Theo Robertson10 April 2015
Warning: Spoilers
!!!!! SUGGESTIVE SPOILERS !!!!!

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
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7/10
Not a bad remake at all.
dongillette25 February 2012
There will be those who slam this as a poorly-made remake of Sam Peckinpah's 1971 original and claim that it misses the point altogether, but that's simply not true. This film is actually pretty good. James Woods helps out quite a bit in the role of the old man who eggs it all on, but all the performances are solid. I live in the South (not the DEEP South, but...) and I promise you the characters are right on the money. Actually, in this version, the transformation of the main character is a bit more believable than Dustin Hoffmann's original. You don't go from Marshmallow to the Terminator as Hoffmann did and in this version, there's a bit of "tense" in the main character that makes his eruption more believable.
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Tolerable remake
neil-47611 November 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Cerebral David and his pretty wife Amy move to a remote farmhouse in the rural backwater of Amy's youth so that David can work in peace and quiet. Right from the start there is an uneasy atmosphere deriving from the crew of workmen who are repairing the neighbouring barn roof, led by Charlie, an old flame of Amy's. Amy's provocative dress and behaviour serve to further inflame the situation, but David is inclined to avoid confrontation, even going so far as to go hunting with the men (at which point Charlie and another one of the men take the opportunity to rape Amy). However, when David and Amy give shelter to a local retarded man who has killed a precocious teenager, and the girl's bigwig father leads Charlie and crew to demand his release, David determines to make a stand.

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.
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9/10
STRAW DOGS Kicks Ass!
savannapink19 May 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I caught a screening of STRAW DOGS last week. Rod Lurie directed a tight film that kicks major ass.

"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."
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