Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Straw Dogs (2011) - Movie Review

First, let me just say that I have not seen the original version of this film from 1971 which stars Dustin Hoffman and Susan George so I am not able to offer any comparison between the two. That being said I still had a pretty good idea of how the movie would play out based on the trailer which can be viewed at the end of this review. This is a fairly straightforward tale that does have some interesting twists and turns, but could it live up to the promise of being the intensely violent thrill ride we see touched on in the trailer?

My one word answer to that question is "No". The longer version would be that this film was very long on build-up and had a minimal amount of payoff at the end. Apparently there was so much plot and so many characters to develop that we don't get to the "breaking point" that is advertised on the movie poster until nearly the very end. With this type of film, I really don't care about delving deep in to each of the character's lives and developing intricate subplots that end up being sort of necessary to bring the story home. Just show me who everyone is, what they are all about, why everyone is in the setting they are in, and then let everyone loose. 

Maybe I'm looking at this wrong and this is supposed to be a dramatic picture that looks for strong acting performances to carry things through to the eventual explosive climax. If I sit back and look at it that way, I now see an even bigger failure as the story was very bland and the acting was about as by-the-numbers as you can get. Was anyone really expecting a master performance from James Marsden? The one person I thought brought the necessary level of emotion and intensity to their role was James Woods and I wasn't even aware he was going to be in the picture until he showed up on screen.

There are some other issues I have with the film, but they come about late in to the third act and would involve some serious spoilers and I keep my reviews spoiler free for all those that have not yet seen the film. Overall this was a decent movie, but it really just falls flat in just about every area that you would hope it would excel. There are some fun moments here and there and you get several shots of Kate Bosworth's chilled (if you know what I mean) breasts although they are unfortunately covered by cloth in every scene. When it comes to movies like this, they are more often hit than miss and this remake is no exception.

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