7 Movies You May Have Hated: Are They Worth Rewatching?

%name 7 Movies You May Have Hated: Are They Worth Rewatching?

Pauline Kael famously stated that she would never watch a movie twice for critical purposes, because she “got it” the first time. Either this is why she was a master of film criticism while the rest of us are just schmucks, or her staunchness of opinion was a weakness, its influence on contemporary criticism apparent in the continued presentation of movie reviews as objective, eternal reports rather than evaluations of subjective art appreciation. Probably some combination of both.

It is nevertheless my estimation that watching a movie for a second time can yield drastically different responses, and this is not an unpopular view. Criticwire recently posted of a survey of critics’ experiences of the same movie viewed many years apart, and the replies are fascinating. This does not only apply to movies you love, though. I’ve had a number of embarrassing experiences of hating a movie the first time I watched it, only for it to become one of my all-time favorites upon a subsequent viewing. It’s a weird experience, but a valuable one, as it’s good to have a reminder that our initial assessment of a movie or any similar experience can be unreliable or at the very least subject to significant variance if and when we revisit it. It says something about all the factors that go into how we judge movies, but what I take from it is that any evaluation should be made with humility and an appreciation of our own fallibility.

One recent movie that went through a bit of a critical revival was The Lone Ranger, which I found moderately amusing and enjoyable, while others found it either unbearable or terrific fun. I can’t bring myself to fall on either side, but both have their points. I’ll need more time before giving watching that one another try.

A few relatively recent movies stood out to me as worthy of at least considering watching a second time around. So I did. Here are those 7 movies, and a perspective on whether the time spent revisiting them was worthwhile or not.

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1) John Carter

%name 7 Movies You May Have Hated: Are They Worth Rewatching?

Verdict: God, no, please no, never

In my younger years, I would never have even entertained the thought of quitting a movie in the middle, at least not deliberately—if it had to go back to the movie rental store or whatever archaic method of viewing movies I once made use of, and I hadn’t finished it, it was simply out of my hands. But consciously throwing up my hands and saying “Nope, I just can’t. I’m out,” was anathema. As I’ve gotten older, time feels more valuable and the fear of wasting time is often stronger than the compulsion to finish anything I’ve started.

This is all to illustrate just how big a deal it was for me to walk out of a theater screening of John Carter back in 2012. To be fair, I was visiting a new city and part of my decision to up and leave about a third of the way through was the thought that exploring the streets would be less of a waste of time.

I had been meaning to watch the entire thing at some point, and when I finally did, I felt incredibly validated. Something about this movie just doesn’t seem to work. The few who defend it seem to be defending its script, which is fine, but the movie itself comes off as an awkward mishmash of oddly timed humor and a general dissonance between tone and action. In other words, it wasn’t a failure (just) because of its marketing. I’m happy to entertain arguments of those who dig John Carter, but there’s probably nothing anyone can say to ever make me watch it again.

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2) Ocean’s Twelve

Oceans Twelve 7 Movies You May Have Hated: Are They Worth Rewatching?

Verdict: I guess, sure

Majority opinion seems to have ruled that Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven remake back in 2001 was that rare example of a cinematic reimagining that undeniably worked. It was indeed so successful that the powers that be determined it would befit a trilogy, and like other instances of cinematic lightning, it was only able to really strike the first time. Ocean’s Twelve came out in 2004, and angered more than any film I had seen at the time, so much in fact that I could never bring myself to seeing Ocean’s Thirteen three years later.

Watching Ocean’s Twelve 8 years later was…better. The Julia Roberts as Julia Roberts thing still annoys me, as it raises way too many questions and just distracts from the rest of the movie. The other part that ticked me off, Vincent Cassel just somehow navigating an impossible laser field, was somehow forgivable this time, perhaps because I’ve come to appreciate Cassel in general. Mostly, the movie is a reasonably enjoyable re-encounter of these characters and Soderbergh’s cool 1960s-style shooting, particularly in the first hour. And Ocean’s Thirteen, which I finally saw after, is a lot of fun, and worth seeing Ocean’s Twelve for.

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3) The Amazing Spider-Man

%name 7 Movies You May Have Hated: Are They Worth Rewatching?

Verdict: Hell to the yes

I will continue to defend this Marc Webb-directed version of the Spider-Man origin story as a modern masterpiece, an opinion that has only been reinforced by a third viewing after watching it twice back in 2012 (the second time was to determine whether or not I was crazy for being so moved by it the first time). I will also ignore all arguments that it was unnecessary to make because such arguments are themselves useless.

Central to the joy of this movie is the performances of two of the finest young actors of this up and coming generation, Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. Garfield in particular captures that sense of teen angst perfectly, oscillating between being a misunderstood outcast and a smart-mouthed rebel nerd. His overpowering emotions are always just below the surface, and his body language is wonderfully idiosyncratic.

Another detail I appreciate about Webb’s Spidey is how tactile he feels. What I mean is that, as much as I enjoyed Sam Raimi’s (first two) Spider-Man movies, inside the suit, Peter Parker looked like a cartoon. The reboot fixes this for us by having Garfield shed the mask more often, but also by lighting and shooting the spandex suit with much greater depth and texture. It may seem like a minor detail, but it goes a long way in making what we see more believable.

Add to this the staging of the action sequences, the timing of and quality of its wide-ranging musical score, the sympathy for its villain, and the emotional reality of every single scene, and I am more convinced than ever that this is one of, if not the, finest superhero movie we’ve been treated to in movies to date.

For an example, check out the scene below.

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4) Funny People

Funny People 7 Movies You May Have Hated: Are They Worth Rewatching?

Verdict: I think so

Funny People, and director Judd Apatow’s followup, This is 40, both veer in a new direction for someone known for supposed gross-out comedies like The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up (even though those movies are incredibly earnest compared to most other comedies). They’re kind of simultaneously familiar based on Apatow’s previous work and also radically different, and so can be mildly to severely off-putting on first viewing. At least, they were for me. Because it was first, Funny People threw me and many others off the most, but upon revisiting the movie, I was struck by how tremendous it actually is.

The pivotal line in the movie is spoken by Adam Sandler’s character, the angry and isolated big-venue comedian who is constantly either abusing or imparting wisdom to Seth Rogen’s character. In a moment of ritual abuse, he belittle’s Rogen’s abilities as a performer, telling him “Comedy is for funny people.” This of course strikes a resounding note of irony, given how little humor the Sandler character shares in his daily life, and indeed given the stereotype of many stand-up performers as sad, lonely clowns.

Apatow’s new work seems to function on the basis of the comedy enhancing the dramatic and emotional weight of the narrative rather than the other way around, and a second viewing of Funny People might allow more people to tap into this new aesthetic that he’s beginning to master.

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5) Green Lantern

Green Lantern 7 Movies You May Have Hated: Are They Worth Rewatching?

Verdict: I’m telling you, yes!

Ok, listen. Green Lantern is really good and I don’t entirely understand why no one seems to agree with me on this. That may be because I’m still figuring out what it is about it that works on me so deeply. Yes, there’s the Ryan Reynolds factor, and the unshakable impression that he’s toxic for big movies like those in the superhero genre. I’ll even grant that the space opera element is a tad bizarre and occupies maybe a little too much of the movie’s runtime.

And yet director Martin Campbell, who is arguably responsible for reviving the James Bond franchise twice, takes these potential weaknesses and bundles them into what I consider to be strengths. He goes full-on weird with the space opera stuff, bordering on experimental art film territory in some sequences. Then Reynolds’ obnoxious bravado that can occasionally be too much is used here to be not only deliberately too much but a clear cover for a deep anxiety he either needs to hide or distract himself from by various adrenaline-infused activities.

The whole movie, in fact, is about anxiety. It’s packaged under the more general theme of ‘fear,’ with the notion of ‘will’ being the slightly on-the-nose solution for defeating the fear monster, but understood through the prism of the characters, especially the terrific Peter Sarsgaard villain, this is rarely explored subject in movies. Describing the daily struggle for some people who must work to find the will to triumph over anxiety disorders of any kind as heroic is admirable. I still believe (at least hope) that Green Lantern will make a cultural comeback over time.

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6) Southland Tales

Southland Tales 7 Movies You May Have Hated: Are They Worth Rewatching?

Verdict: I mean, probably

Richard Kelly made a name for himself with Donnie Darko, and his name was subsequently dragged through the mud after he decided to get even more audacious with Southland Tales. It was a bizarre end-of-the-world movie whose box office turnout was as disastrous as the events depicted. I wish I could say I made more sense of it after watching a second time, but I can’t. It’s weird and baffling, compelling at times and alienating at others, meandering from one narrative tone to another in a way that’s intriguing but unable for me to really get into yet. Still, it has some cool interpretive defenders that I will gladly defer to, because even if I find it utterly confusing, it’s without a doubt a movie made with passion and vision, hard as that may be to clearly decipher.

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7) The Village

village 5 7 Movies You May Have Hated: Are They Worth Rewatching?

Verdict: Ughhhhhh

With every new M. Night Shyamalan movie released—the most recent example being After Earth—I somehow always forget just how much I don’t care for how he makes films. I rarely remember specifically what is so awkward and off-putting about each of his post-Unbreakable efforts, but every new one is a rather effective reminder (even though I didn’t mind After Earth that much).

I’ve wondered for years whether I was unfair to The Village (the first Shyamalan movie I openly hated). Whether it was due to youth or to a blind adherence to the tastes of Roger Ebert, I never cared much for it. So, I was actually a little surprised when I didn’t completely hate the movie the second time around.

I have to admit that I was unfamiliar with the unconventional acting styles of William Hurt and Joaquin Phoenix and had jumped to the conclusion that they were terrible. However, the movie relies so heavily on the twist, for which Shyamalan has come to be known and criticized, that it feels entirely deflated on a repeat viewing. So whatever points it gained in my mind for misevaluating the quality of the performances it subsequently lost by the premise being absurd when you’re aware of the secret from the start. That made it a slog from beginning to end this time rather than feeling like I had been cheated. Not exactly an improvement. Plus, the trademark awkward Shyamalan dialogue didn’t help things either.

In many cases, as I’ve heard several critics assert, seeing a movie for the first time is mostly an act of removing all preconceived notions of what it might turn out to be and allowing yourself to see it for what it is. You don’t know what a movie is until you’ve seen it, and I find it difficult, perhaps impossible, to appreciate a movie on its own terms on first viewing. Trying to guess what happens, or anticipating the moments you saw in the ads, can be really distracting. That’s all removed the second time, or the third. You can stop asking yourself “Is this good?” or “Do I like this?” and just submit yourself. Even if your mind isn’t completely changed, you can develop a perspective with a deeper understanding of the material, or the accomplishment of being able to say I survived watching the entirety of John Carter and all I have to show for it is this lousy listicle.

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  • Chris Wolfe

    Green Lantern was a colossal waste of fiances and perfectly good camera operators. The film completely neglect to create any audience empathy for the main character – not since seeing Jumper have I EVER seen a protagonist less likable. The story was utterly forgettable, the effects were exceptionally subpar for the amount of money poured into it, and it was blindingly obvious the entire point of the movie was not, as it should be, to tell a story – but to try and edge in on the multi-movie superhero deal that to date only Marvel have been able to pull off.

    • Razorsfury

      So the story of green lantern was forgettable? Considering it’s really close to the comic means you are talking out of your ass. Also, I didn’t know marvel made the superman and batman movies… Dumb ass.

  • RxPhantom

    I really can’t go with you on TASM. Everything the Raimi trilogies got right, TASM got wrong and vice versa. The full potential of Spider-Man on film probably won’t be realized until Marvel regains the rights, which I’m sure will never happen.

    • Joseph Bacallao

      Never heard that vice versa argument. I lean more towards TASM. Gotta rewatch both part ones now with that argument in mind. I try not to be partial.

  • xXGrizZ

    Ironically, I had to stop reading at “I will continue to defend this Marc Webb-directed version of the Spider-Man origin story as a modern masterpiece”

    modern masterpiece?…

    Verdict: Will take ALL future Darren Ruecker articles with a grain of salt….

  • Ron

    Wow. I disagree with everything you wrote. None of these movies deserve anything but what they got when first released. As for Spiderman, WE just had a trilogy a few years ago. I prayed no one would see the new Spiderman movie to send a message to hollywood! STOP rebooting and remaking every five minutes. But alas morons flocked to see the thing. And when I say morons I mean single overweight men who will never see a real woman naked!

  • LargoDeluxe

    This list would have had more guts if it had included Speed Racer – perhaps the most unfairly maligned blockbuster-as-art-film in recent history.

  • DJRickyV

    I agree with your list, sir.