Saturday 24 March 2012

STRAW DOGS (the re-make)

If there was ever an argument against re-makes then this latest version of 'Straw Dogs' ticks all the boxes.
I picked up the dvd out of curiosity and because I thought that maybe - just maybe - Rod Lurie could bring something new to the original.
Sadly, this was not the case.
James Marsden takes on the Dustin Hoffman role only instead of being a mathematician he is a scriptwriter who met wife Amy (Kate Bosworth) during the making of a TV series. Now he is retiring to the country to write a movie script about the greatest battle of the Second World War - Stalingrad. So our hero is a writer, so you would think that there were some things that he would know - like when the hunting season was. I mean I know when both the fishing season and hunting season begin and end here and I don't have an interest in either of these activities. Whatever, this was a non-engaging character.
This may be a touch detailist but a small point.
Now I never took much to Dustin Hoffman for in the original he was as animated as The Graduate standing at the bottom of the swimming pool. But after this new take Hoffman gets a touch more respect.
Bosworth in the Susan George role lacks a lot. Susan George made Sam Peckinpah's movie in many ways. And, of course, there was that rape scene. Susan George's Amy kicked and fought back - unlike Bosworth who gives in too easily and protests not.
And when the bad boy (Alexander Skarsgard) is done he sits down to watch his mate have a go. Yet the bored look on his face says it all - 'what am I doing in this?'
By the time we get to the toned down violent ending I had lost interest enough that I hoped that the bad guys would win.
Though, one character did bring something new to the movie. James Woods was brilliant as the loud mouthed bullying Coach. Almost on a par with Peter Vaughan's manic role.

To my way of thinking re-makes should bring something new to the story. 'True Grit' does that. So, too, did '3:10 To Yuma' though I didn't like the ending. At least, there were new ways of looking at the story and characters.
'Straw Dogs' was based on the Gordon Williams novel 'The Siege Of Trencher's Farm'. The original is a 'western' set in the English countryside. Gordon Williams distanced himself from the Sam Peckinpah movie and had his names removed from the credits. Yet his original male lead was far more animated than either Hoffman's or Marsden's portrayal.

I guess that there are times when originals should be left alone.


I.J. Parnham said...

One comment I read about this remake, which sort of summed up the attitude of those making it and why I won't be bothering with it, was that the original doesn't explain the title.

Instead you're left to find it out for yourself if you're moved, whereas the remake couldn't risk confusing the viewer and so there's some explanatory dialogue to tell you just what a straw dog is.

Ray said...

I think that may have been the point when I wandered off to make a cup of coffee.
I asked the wife if I had missed much to which she replied 'not that she had noticed.'
No point in asking my daughter-in-law. She had fallen asleep.
The paint looks good though.