Thursday, September 15, 2011

Straw Dogs

A Hollywood screenwriter working on a screenplay on the Battle of Stalingrad (a nice metaphor) relocates with his beautiful wife to her hometown in the Deep South where they incur the wrath of the locals, including her ex-boyfriend whom they have contracted to put a roof on their barn. As tensions increase and boundaries are crossed, the screenwriter is forced to take extreme steps he wouldn't ordinarily take to prove his manhood and protect his wife and home. "Straw Dogs" was a 1971 film by Sam Peckinpah that offered a controversial and somewhat ambiguous take on courage, violence, and the definition of rape. This unnecessary remake by Rod Lurie is a little more clear where the lines are drawn and therefore makes the film less interesting. James Marsden and Kate Bosworth, reuniting from "Superman Returns", bring likability, but no complexity to their roles, which is what made the characters originally played by Dustin Hoffman and Susan George so enticing. Alexander Skarsgard has effective scenes as well, but his charater is all over the place. James Woods also has a good supporting role as a ferocious ex-football coach. Aside from the clearer stance, a few minor changes, and an even bloodier finale (its still effective but how could it not be!), this is a pretty direct remake. I've never understood why people want to do point by point remakes of classic films that have already stated their case on the subject fairly well.