Straw Dogs appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a pretty solid presentation.
Sharpness usually seemed strong. Some wide shots looked a little soft – like those at the church - but the majority of the flick demonstrated good delineation. No jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge enhancement appeared to be absent. Source flaws also didn’t create any distractions, as the flick lacked defects.
The flick featured a fairly amber-oriented tone, though it tended to go colder and bluer at times. Within those parameters, the colors seemed fine. A few brighter tones occasionally emerged and the hues were depicted well. Blacks were dense and dark, while shadows came across as smooth and clear. Except for the occasional softness, I felt pleased with the picture.
While not a slam-bang mix, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Straw Dogs provided reasonably vivid accompaniment to the action. The soundfield created a good sense of atmosphere. Music offered nice stereo delineation, and the effects formed a feeling of place and setting.
Some scenes such as those with cars or hunting opened up the room in a decent manner, but the majority of the soundscape’s most involving material revolved around the climax. That extended sequences made nice use of all the channels and moved things about the spectrum well. Those scenes added the most power to the package.
Audio quality was good. Speech always remained crisp and concise, while music fared well. The score sounded rich and full at all times. Effects seemed accurate and dynamic, and they boasted nice low-end response when necessary. I felt this qualified as a “B” soundtrack that neared “B+” territory due to the activity during the climax.
With that we shift to the disc’s extras. These start with an audio commentary from writer/director Rod Lurie. He delivers a running, screen-specific look at the adaptation of the original and changes for the remake, cast and performances, story and characters, sets and locations, why he chose to remake Straw Dogs and his goals for this version.
Expect a pretty interesting and passionate chat here. Clearly Lurie’s prepared to take on those who don’t think he should’ve remade a well-regarded film, so he addresses that topic quite a lot. He does this well and digs into a variety of other areas in this engaging, compelling piece.
Note that a few mild-moderate gaps occur, and I have to think that these pop up because Lurie made remarks that were deemed as problematic in some way. Lurie’s so chatty that it’s hard to believe that he ran out of anything to say.
Four featurettes follow. Courting a Controversy: Remaking a Classic goes for seven minutes, 41 seconds and includes notes from producer Marc Frydman, executive producer Beau Marks, and actors James Marsden, Kate Bosworth, Drew Powell, and Alexander Skarsgård. “Courting” looks at changes made from the original film and various updates. Lurie already covers this topic during the commentary, so the featurette feels a bit redundant. However, the program adds different perspectives so it’s worth a look.
Next comes the six-minute, 20-second The Dynamics of Power: The Ensemble. It features Marsden, Bosworth, Skarsgård, Powell, and actors Billy Lush and James Woods. This one looks at cast, characters and performances. A few decent notes emerge here, but the show’s a bit on the fluffy side.
Inside the Siege: The Ultimate Showdown lasts seven minutes, 29 seconds and provides info from Frydman, Lurie and Marks. They discuss the shoot of the climactic action scene, with an emphasis on areas like effects and stunts. Like the other featurettes, this one feels somewhat light, but it delivers a mix of decent notes.
Finally, Creating the Sumner House: The Production Design goes for four minutes, nine seconds and includes details from Marks, Lurie, production designer Tony Fanning, art director John Goldsmith, and director of photography Alik Sakharov. They cover sets, locations and visual design. Despite the piece’s brevity, it includes some nice material and is probably the “meatiest” of the four featurettes.
The disc opens with ads for Colombiana, Attack the Block, Hostel Part III and Drive. These also appear under Previews along with clips for Retreat and . No ad for Dogs appears here.
Although I don’t view the 2011 Straw Dogs as a bad film, it does seem fairly pointless. The ways it alters the 1971 original tend to neuter it and make it less effective. It still has some decent value as a standard thriller, but it lacks the same punch to the gut as the first one. The Blu-ray comes with good picture and audio as well as a set of supplements highlighted by a strong audio commentary. The remake’s worth a look as a curiosity but it’s not a memorable film.