James Marsden Has Got Some Actin’ In Him After All
by Nicholas Robinson
L.A. screenwriter David Sumner (James Marsden) relocates with his wife (Kate Bosworth) to her hometown in the deep South. There, while tensions build between them, a brewing conflict with locals becomes a threat to them both. – IMDB.com
In preparation for this film, I went back and rented the original starring Dustin Hoffman from 1971 and I was bored out of my mind. The premise was good but was executed poorly. Apart from the last half an hour of that movie I had to strain myself to stay awake. After watching that movie, the only way that it could have been fixed was if the proportions were switched. That said, this movie surprised me. The story was the same as the original but better, the acting was (VERY surprisingly) good, the score was very good and the visuals were gorgeous.
The general story for both the original and the remake was that of an hour and a half lead up followed by a half hour “action” scene. What the remake did that the original failed to do was to actually LEAD up to something. In the original, apart from when stuff actually happens showing you the creepiness of the antagonists, it is very bland and feels like filler. However, in the new version, the tension doesn’t stop building. Every scene you can feel it building up until the final scene that is shown so much in the trailer and they do that really well. Also, the remake fixed a few scruples that I had with the original. 1. The original never even alluded as to why the movie was called Straw Dogs and 2. Why would a woman undress in her bedroom with the curtains open when she knows that the men outside can see her?
Now, before I say what I am about to let me tell you that I think Dustin Hoffman is a really good actor and should be held in high regards. However, James Marsden did a better job at playing the pansy that has to defend his home than Dustin Hoffman did in the original. Also, Alexander Skarsgard did a great job as the creepy ex-boyfriend and main antagonist. Who I really want to mention here is James Woods. He did an amazing job as the drunk overprotective loose-cannon father. He is perfect in every way for this role and I should really go back and watch more of his movies. Also, a quick mention of a cameo that I personally enjoyed was Rhys Coiro as Norman. Why I enjoyed it was not because of the performance but because I couldn’t stop thinking of him as Billy Walsh from Entourage.
I really liked the score in this movie. It did a fantastic job of building up the tension and suspense throughout the movie until the breaking point and even until that final shot of James Marsden’s character. This leads into the visuals. The cinematography in this movie was great. Every shot felt well thought out and just needs to be applauded here. However, the one thing that I think this movie did that definitely put it over the original was change the setting from England to Mississipi. It just made everything more believable and I think actually easier to imagine or maybe it’s just me who finds it hard to believe that things like that could happen in rural Britain.
Overall this is a good movie that I might actually watch again when it comes out on Blu-ray.
IMDB says 5.5/10
RT says 37%
I say 7.5/10