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  • Dog Pound
    • Dog Pound
    • Runtime:112 min
    • Release Date:2014-09-15 10:01:33
    • Director: Kim Chapiron
    • Genres: Drama
    • Studio:
MOVIE REVIEW:Dog Pound
Auhtor:

   

And considering it's a dog pound … Seriously though: The movie is one
of the best ones I have seen in a while, that contains people being
locked-up (or in). I have to admit, that I have not seen "Scum" yet,
which this movie is based on (or a Remake according to IMDb), but after
seeing this, I have to go out and rent that one.

The characters on display here might feel a bit too distant and not
everyone will be able to find a character he can entirely sympathize
with, but that's what made it so intriguing to me. It's not showing a
rose-tinted world. And it is not afraid to go ways, that other movies
might have been. It's raw and sometimes feels like a documentary
(though it obviously isn't).

Very good acting and a story that flows from start to finish, with no
(visible) flaw in the storytelling. Highly recommended

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A movie like "Dog Pound" has a lot of peers. Year after year of prison
films (a dozen or two I've seen for myself) have honed a pretty basic
cinematic structure. This film is about half-successful in avoiding the
clichés. It does have one thing going for it – being the most recent to
give an pretty much realistic account of the juvenile detention system.
The pace of the story provides somewhat of the needed adrenaline charge
for the thriller format, but it doesn't go nearly as far as it should.
The soundtrack, for one, is a good example of this. It's virtually
never needed, always intrusive. The acting is pretty much as expected.
Given intense situations, the actors offer better performances than if
asked to emote in a normal environment. And, if not necessarily better,
at least more intense.

Kim Chapiron provides some interesting direction. Clean photography,
70s style use of zooms. It doesn't always work, but it keeps things
interesting. The end result is a film that gives you enough to stay
involved, if not quite enough to push it over into something you'd want
to see again. Good enough.

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If you've seen the awesome Alan Clarke film Scum (1979), don't bother
watching Dog Pound, you'll realise fairly early on that you already
know what's going to happen. This is a work of pure plagiarism. America
has stolen yet another great British story. Perhaps not on the same
scale as say U571, but galling none the less.

Whilst I'm sure that this film does have it's uses (assisting
insomniacs for example, or perhaps the case could be used to replace a
broken one from a good film), there's just so much more you could do
with an hour and a half of your life than watching a cheap rip off.

For those of you who haven't seen or got a copy of Scum and do have a
copy of Dog Pound, please don't hesitate to incinerate and dispose of
it before rushing to the shops to buy the real thing.

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*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I really enjoyed this movie.

And I'm saying that as a huge fan of the original, Scum.

I don't want to spend too much time comparing the two titles but since
it's pretty much a shot for shot remake, I'll touch on that later.

The plot is simple enough. Three teenagers are committed to a juvenile
facility. What follows is a transitional phase within the prison
between the three kids who basically run things and the newcomer,
Butch, who is provoked into violently assuming the leadership role.

There are subplots as well featuring some of the other inmates and the
guards. Davis, one of the newcomers, is a naive rich kid who can't
handle the tough prison life. Max is the weirdo who has successfully
freaked out everyone into leaving him alone by telling them he has
AIDS. Goodyear is the bitter C.O., whose home life is being complicated
by his job.

This film is supposed to be a commentary on the rehabilitation system,
much like the original was. It does a decent job of showing the
brutality of the system and how irrevocably flawed it is. Kids like
Banks, the thug at the top, and his cronies basically enjoy this life
and the control they can exhibit. The weaker kids, meanwhile, are left
out to dry. No one gets rehabilitated. No one is "cured."

One of the problems with this movie is that it doesn't know quite what
it wants to be. It starts out with backstories for three of the main
characters, except one of them isn't main at all and after arriving at
the Elona Vale facility he all but disappears for most of the film. It
then follows as pretty much a look inside a juvenile prison but breaks
the flow with a flashback to a sex story one of the inmates is
recounting. To me, that scene really didn't fit at all. It's like they
touch on the lives of the characters but instead of making that the
core of the film they try to do both but don't succeed. That was what
the original did so well. The movie wasn't about the characters; where
they came from, what they did. It was about the system and it's flaws.

Now, onto the inevitable comparison. Both movies are excellent and both
have their strong points. But Dog Pound really is a scene for scene
remake. It's tweaked some things and added some additional plot lines
but anyone who has seen Scum will know exactly what happens all the way
to the ending. Dog Pound benefits greatly from increased production
values; it looks great and the hand-held camera work puts you right in
the action. Scum on the other hand played out almost like a pseudo
documentary and was very washed out and gritty.

Several scenes from the original have been altered, some for the better
and some for the worse. The violence is awesomely brutal and you can
literally hear the wet smacks of fists hitting noses and the crack of
bones breaking. The riot scene at the end has been extended and is
infinitely more bad ass. I actually had a bit of an adrenaline rush
watching that scene.

Unfortunately they've cut down and taken out some parts that were
crucial to Scum's plot and overall message. The rape scene, for
example, has been pretty watered down and there's no guard witness. The
subsequent suicide as well isn't seen, all we get a glimpse of is a
body. The two scenes were pivotal in establishing the flaws and
corruption of the borstals and giving the viewer a graphic insight at
the inability of children to cope with such an experience. The guards
are way, way nicer than in Scum. In a shocking way, actually. The riot
at the end is supposed to be an expression of rage at the guards and
the facility but there's really not much justification for it. The
guards are super, super nice. Even Goodyear, with an obvious exception,
of course, is pretty nice to the kids given the circumstances.

But my biggest qualm with this remake was the alteration of the
original message. Yes, it does a good job showing the brutality of
these prisons. But that's not just what Scum was about. Scum was also a
commentary about how the prison system degrades not just the inmates,
but the facilitators as well. Max, who is supposed to portray Archer
from Scum, is disappointingly under utilized. In the original he
provided the voice of reason, the opposition to the juvenile prison
system. The scenes where Archer voices his theory on this with the
guard over coffee is gone. As is most of his civil disobedience tactics
from the original, like refusing to wear shoes and threatening to
convert to Islam.

That was the underlying message of Scum. It wasn't just a prison movie,
it was a social commentary as well. Dog Pound is just a prison movie. A
good one, but lacking substance.

All in all though this was a very good film and an admirable homage to
the original. The story is solid, the acting is excellent (Adam Butcher
as Butch is mesmerizing) and unlike Scum which had a notable lack of
music, the score for this film is quite good and used appropriately. I
don't know when this is being released in the United States but I would
definitely recommend seeing it.

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