As a savvy filmgoer (which certainly all of our readers are), surely you’ve come across a movie or two that seemingly everybody else loves but that you didn’t appreciate much on a first viewing. What famous movie have you seen and disliked, but feel that maybe you should give a second chance?
To be clear on this, the idea is that you haven’t given the movie that second chance yet, but are questioning whether you should bother. Perhaps the movie is a classic that you simply didn’t get, or perhaps you were too young when you saw it, or maybe you just weren’t in the right mood for it.
M. Enois Duarte
If I suggest ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’, would I immediately be met with a mob at my front door demanding I be burned at the stake? Fortunately, I wouldn’t really do that. Instead, I’ve been thinking that ‘Iron Man 3‘ might deserve another shot. As a comic book fan, I remember not caring for this one as much as the first two ‘Iron Man’ movies because it was such a massive departure from the comics. Now that it’s been a few years, I wonder if I was too harsh on it the first time around. After all, Tony Stark was also drastically changed to better fit Robert Downey, Jr.’s acting style, and the story is connected to the first ‘Avengers’ movie. On top of that, it was directed by Shane Black, who I love, and was co-written by Drew Pearce of ‘Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation’.
I’m going through the MCU series again right now anyhow, so I’m eventually going to watch ‘Iron Man 3’ regardless. With Ultra HDs on their way from Germany, let’s see if my thoughts have changed.
Over the past few years, I’ve become a big fan of director Joe Wright. ‘Hanna’ is one of the best and most refreshing action movies out there, ‘Anna Karenina’ is one of the most creative takes that I’ve seen on a period piece (if you haven’t seen it, you should check it out for the production design alone), and I even saw past the flaws and was able to enjoy ‘Pan’.
Having such a deep admiration for Wright now, I need to go back and give ‘Atonement‘ a second chance. It’s the favorite film of several of my friends, but when I saw it, I simply didn’t like it. Admittedly, the conditions were not ideal. The one time I watched ‘Atonement’ was from the comforts of my college apartment over a holiday break. I received an awards screener and decided to watch it – but what college apartment is a conducive place to enjoy a period piece drama like that?
I’m fairly certain that when I revisit ‘Atonement’, I’ll love it. In fact, last year I found a used copy on Blu-ray at FYE for $4 and picked it up. If I can get the kids into bed on time, I’m sure my new environment will be far more suited for the viewing.
Tom Hanks regularly makes tough dramatic roles look easy while elevating forgettable plots into memorable movies. Paul Newman is, at worst, a charming star and a Hollywood legend, a boon to nearly every movie he was in. But when I watched ‘Road to Perdition‘ some 15 years ago, it just fell flat, inducing sleepiness in my little group. Despite that, and even though I think of the movie as a long, dull chore, I think it’s time to give it a second chance.
The year is 1992. After a TV campaign that promised an Irish Republican Army plot and a big secret, my best friend and his sister went to see ‘The Crying Game‘ in theaters. Now, before I come off as a bigot here, everyone needs to put this film in a 1992 perspective. As someone who grew up in a VERY conservative small town in Southwestern Pennsylvania, we were just getting used to the idea of seeing homosexuality portrayed in mainstream media, let alone what this movie has to offer.
Anyway, I won’t rehash the plot here (what little of it I remember), but there’s a point in the movie where the main character, Fergus (played by Stephen Rea), gets what I’ll politely refer to as oral attention from the character Dil (played by Jaye Davidson). Since even this was something not frequently portrayed in a mainstream movie, my best friend leans over during this point in the movie and asks, “Is she doing what I think she’s doing?” Having already guessed the movie’s secret by this point, I replied, “Yeah, but I don’t think that’s a She.” My friend did a double take at that point, stared in silence at the screen for a good five seconds then, said loudly, “WHAT?!” His sister, who had apparently figured things out long before we did, began laughing hysterically at the two closed-minded white guys sitting next to her.
We’ve come a long way since 1992, and today no one would blink an eye at a similar plot in a mainstream motion picture, but it was a big deal back then. I’ve never gone back and watched ‘The Crying Game’ a second time – not because of any particular bias, but just because I felt the marketing for the film tricked me into seeing something different than what I expected (which, granted, was kind of the whole point). I wonder if the movie, given today’s much more acceptable society, would still have the same kind of impact for a first-time viewer.
Chris Boylan (Big Picture Big Sound)
Easy one: ‘Eraserhead‘, directed by David Lynch. I saw that early in college and just didn’t get it. Just bizarre. There’s a really weird, disturbing dinner scene where the lead character is asked to carve the bird, and the headless game hen starts pumping out blood and moving its legs back and forth. I don’t think I made it very far past that scene before walking out of the theater. In fact, it may be the only movie I’ve ever walked out on, and I’ve seen some stinkers.
Meanwhile, Lynch’s ‘Blue Velvet’ may be in my Top 20 favorite films of all time and I absolutely loved ‘Twin Peaks’ when it was on the air. In fact, I even generally enjoyed ‘Dune’ (though maybe not as much as Josh). So yeah, one day I’ll give ‘Eraserhead’ another shot. But I’ll have to make sure the kids are asleep. And we won’t be eating chicken that night.
Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)
A couple months back, my wife and I watched Richard Linklater’s ‘Before Trilogy‘ over three consecutive nights. After being so charmed by the first two films in the series, we had the highest of expectations for ‘Before Midnight’.
To at least some extent, we knew what we were getting into. This isn’t a film about the first blush of young love. This isn’t about slightly more mature people reconnecting and falling back in love with one another. Throughout the course of ‘Before Sunrise’ and ‘Before Sunset’, Jesse and Céline had known each other for hours. ‘Before Midnight’ opens with them having been in a committed relationship for nearly a decade. I’d say that the honeymoon period is over, but that would suggest that they’re actually married. The effortless banter from the first two films is largely a distant memory. Jesse and Céline had previously shared nearly every moment together on-screen, whereas a number of scenes throughout ‘Before Midnight’ split the two of them apart. We were prepared for that. What we weren’t expecting was how truly, irredeemably vile Jesse in particular and, to a far lesser extent, Céline had become. After the end credits started to roll, Maggie and I discussed the film at length and were entirely on the same page. After digging around online to get a sense of the general reception, it seemed as if no one else the world over shared our opinion. Every review, every blog post, and every thinkpiece we came across demonized Céline and practically deified Jesse.
Jesse had always been somewhat full of himself, but he’s insufferable as an established, successful author, clearly having bought into his own hype. He browbeats Céline into signing a book at the hotel despite her vocal discomfort with the idea. He refuses to acknowledge that he’s a serial cheater. Jesse’s son has a far better relationship with Céline than he does with his own father, to the point that the boy eagerly speaks to Céline during a layover back home but shrugs off speaking with Jesse as something he’ll get around to later. He doesn’t even want his father visiting him, as Jesse’s presence so profoundly rankles his ex-wife that the kid would never be able to enjoy himself. Jesse stops just short of saying that he wants Céline to give up the life they’ve built together in France to be closer to the child he’d abandoned – something his son has made no indication that he even wants – and reacts like a spoiled brat when Céline quite reasonably says no.
Jesse doesn’t want a partner in life. He wants an automaton to glorify him, agree with him without question, and sexually gratify him. Céline manages most every aspect of their lives together while Jesse does next to nothing, but he sneers at her for not taking better care of herself and resents any implication that he’s not sufficiently contributing. He’s a sexist who dismisses Céline’s entire gender and accuses her of being hysterical. He preys on her insecurities and indecisiveness about her career path. He’s manipulative, selfish, and an unrepentant liar. For the first time in the series, Céline and Jesse are the same people at the end of the film as they are at the beginning. Nothing is resolved from the nuclear blowout of an argument that ultimately defines ‘Before Midnight’.
How could Jesse possibly be perceived as the hero of the film? Céline doesn’t get a free pass, but she’s hardly the shrill harpy that most every reviewer and blogger makes her out to be. I’m baffled that so many critics found the epic argument to be howlingly funny at times, as I found it horrifying just about from start to finish. It may be a cliché to ask “Did I watch the same movie as these writers?”, but for seemingly everyone but my wife to feel the exact opposite of the way I do makes me feel as if I’m missing something. Part of me is eager to give ‘Before Midnight’ a second look to see what merit there is in the general critical response, while the rest of me never wants to suffer through it again.
A lot of movies fall into this category for me, but my top pick has to be ‘The Shawshank Redemption‘. I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody else other than myself who didn’t love, and I mean loooooooooove, this movie. For a very long time, it was even voted the #1 Movie of All Time among IMDb users. I. Don’t. Get. It.
I’ve never gotten it. The appeal of the movie eludes me. When I watched it, I felt that it was little more than a dull prison drama that played like a TV Movie of the Week. I didn’t see anything special in it. At all. Even the acting performances seemed overdone.
I should probably revisit this. Maybe I just watched it at the wrong time in my life. Maybe the viewing conditions weren’t ideal. (It was among the huge volume of movies I consumed on Laserdisc while wasting time at my college work study job.) If I watch it again now, will I see in it what everyone else does? I wish I was more eager to find out.
What movies do you think you probably ought to give a second chance? Tell us in the Comments.