What's a day in the movie blogosphere without news about a Hollywood remake? The cinematic reworking in question today is Straw Dogs, a contemporary take on Sam Peckinpah's controversial 1971 thriller about a spiraling cycle of senseless violence and revenge involving a married couple (Dustin Hoffman and Susan George) and the locals of a small English village.
Rod Lurie (Nothing But the Truth) wrote and directed the Straw Dogs remake, with James Marsden (Hop) and Kate Bosworth (Superman Returns) now playing the married couple - and a change in setting from England to the southern U.S.
The Straw Dogs trailer suggests that the remake otherwise looks to (by and large) stick to the plot of Peckinpah's original film - namely, that the wife (who grew up in the Southern town) rekindles ties with the locals, including her ex-boyfriend Charlie (True Blood's Alexander Skarsgård). Tensions build in the couple's marriage as old feelings and conflicts re-emerge, eventually leading to a brutal and violent showdown.
Peckinpah's original feature was not only one of several violent films that made a splash when they hit theaters in 1971 (along with the likes of A Clockwork Orange, Dirty Harry, and Last House on the Left), it remains a divisive title today for a brutal rape scene - and due to criticisms that the movie actually endorses, rather than condemns, vigilantism.
So, that begs the question: In the age of Saw movies and a gluttony of Hollywood productions that aim to be grisly and gritty examinations of violence, can a new version of Straw Dogs really stand out as anything but yet another (possibly exploitative) tale of revenge?
You can ponder that question while watching the Straw Dogs trailer (via Yahoo! Movies) below:
This trailer certainly makes Straw Dogs look like a grim revenge tale - and while watching Marsden transform from a mild-mannered academic into a violent warrior seeking retribution probably won't be as startling as seeing the refined Hoffman turn into a sociopath in Peckinpah's original film, Lurie's decision to cast the X-Men actor seems like a wise one. Bosworth doesn't have much to do here as the beautiful wife who is brutalized by her ex, but Skarsgård and his costars appear to be at risk of coming across less as savages who hide their true nature beneath a civilized veneer - and more like just plain hammy villains.
Lurie's film is scheduled for theatrical release this year in mid-September, which doesn't bode well for it being anything other than an unmemorable remake that lacks the bite of its predecessor. On the other hand, some knock-out dramatic thrillers have hit theaters during that month in the past (see last year's The Town) - but it's probably best for now to not expect lightning to strike again.
Straw Dogs hits theaters in the U.S. on September 16th.
Source: Yahoo! Movies
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