In terms of production values, budget, and effects, this is definitely a suprerior film to Wes Craven's original. In terms of story and overall quality, well, that's purely dependent on personal opinion. Once again, the plot is that of a family on vacation whose vehicle breaks down in the desert. They are stranded at an abandoned nuclear test site popualted by some mutants whoe sole purpose is to kill and cause mayhem, and it becomes a family versus family fight ot the death for survival.
With this film, they at least spell out the implied backstory for the mutants, and, while it's okay, they still don't have any real motivation. I could let that slide if the film had slightly more of a point and weren't gruesome basically for the sake of it. The original had violence and terror, but it was also more suspenseful. Yes, this film is creepy, and there's some tense moments, but the focus is more on the violence and gore.
The effects are far better this time, and there's plenty of them, but I think things may have gone slightly overboard. The acting this tiem around is also slightly improved, but the chasracters still really seem unlikeable. Aaron Stanford is pretty decent though. The film tries to have some subtext by doing a Straw Dogs sort of thing with his character, and, it's okay. However, he's no Hoffman, and Aja is no Peckinpah.
I shouldn't like this movie. It's disgusting, vile, and there's not much in the way of redeeming qualities. However, it manages to be slick and polished, yet still incredibly gritty and raw. The original gets a pass for its limitations, but this one should know better, and could have done without so many cliches. Plus, it's intense, but there's not much impact to it, beyond a visceral level.
I wasn't bored though, even if, like the original, there's pacing issues (slow start, drawn out conclusion, dynamite middle). The film definitely has style, though, and admittedly we do need this sort of thing once in a while, if only to balance out the universe.
Obviously I'm conflicted here, because it does some things better than Craven's, yet it fails to achieve the same sort of impact and misses the point when it comes to putting the horror in "horror film". Still, this is shockingly far better than it had any right to be. B-.