It happens more often than not: You watch what you think is a good movie, only to later rewatch and turn it off halfway through. Even worse, you recommend the movie to someone else and they’re not impressed with your cinema taste. We’ll save you the trouble and tell you which movies are great at first glance, but shouldn't get a second watch.
Watch the video version of this article:
‘Suicide Squad’ (2016)
Despite the box office success that saw the movie bring in over $700 million, “Suicide Squad” doesn’t hold up well after the first watch. This superhero story is based on the DC comics of the same name. It features a posse of imprisoned villains enlisted for dangerous black ops missions in exchange for reduced prison sentences. The cast features Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Viola Davis, Will Smith, Scott Eastwood, and many other famous faces. Even with these powerbrokers, there isn’t enough interest for a second rewatch.
The movie is highly predictable and formulaic — viewers can easily see the next scene coming. It gives us familiar narrative forms that fail to capture our attention, though Robbie’s performance is extremely noteworthy and manages to keep the movie afloat. Still, “Suicide Squad” isn’t worth watching a second time, not even for Robbie.
‘Manchester by the Sea’ (2016)
This 2016 drama starring Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, and Lucas Hedges is a riveting portrayal of human grief, guilt, and self-forgiveness. The movie tells the story of Lee Chandler as he struggles with serious personal problems amid family tragedy. When his brother suddenly passes away and names him the legal guardian of his son, Lee’s past comes back to haunt him and stands between him and his nephew.
While “Manchester by the Sea” explores powerful themes, this movie is a bit of a dud even on the first watch — it’s certainly not something you can easily watch multiple times. The scenes move slowly, and the dreary New England winter looming in the background makes things even more depressing. The run time of over two hours doesn’t help either.
‘The Revenant’ (2015)
Set in an unknown wilderness in the 1820s, “The Revenant” tells the story of a grief-stricken father as he survives a bear attack on a hunting trip and journeys back to civilization. Viewers are kept in suspense and clutching their seats as our hunter, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, tries to outmaneuver one of nature’s most brute killers and honor his family. Ultimately, this movie is a showdown for the ages that breaks down acting and filmmaking to their core essentials.
While this is a deeply engaging movie on the first watch, it’s not something you want to see a second time. Suspense is a compelling plot device that, unfortunately, doesn’t work upon rewatch. A second time through, “The Revenant” can feel slow and dull — all those sky and tree shots simply don’t awe you as much; instead, they almost put you to sleep.
‘The Avengers’ (2012)
While eye-catching and buzzy when it came out, “The Avengers” has not aged well. This installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe tells the origin story of the Avengers coming together as one for the first time. It also introduced us to key players we would come to know in later movies. Action-packed and influential in the culture, “The Avengers” was certainly a big deal when it came out.
But on rewatch, the movie is less impressive. The fighting scenes that captivated us the first time feel significantly less invigorating, and the movie's pace as a whole feels too slow. The excitement of seeing different superheroes come together for the first time is lost, and the special effects seem similarly less spectacular.
‘Shutter Island’ (2010)
Similar to “The Sixth Sense,” “Shutter Island” is a psychological crime thriller with a surprising ending. The lead actor — also played by DiCaprio, who seems to have a thing for these movies — is a U.S. Marshal investigating a psychiatric facility after a patient reportedly goes missing. Hollywood’s golden boy is joined by a stellar cast that includes Mark Ruffalo, Michelle Williams, and Ben Kingsley. With Martin Scorsese directing, this movie has serious star power behind it.
However, one of the characters in “Shutter Island” is not who they say they are. Once you know the truth, it’s hard to watch a second time and be as interested. It’s like rewatching a murder mystery and knowing who the culprit is.
‘The Sixth Sense’ (1999)
It’s hard to explain why “The Sixth Sense” isn’t a good movie to rewatch without giving away some serious spoilers. If you’ve seen it, you know about the big revelation that happens at the end — a plot twist on which the entire movie turns. While this kind of surprise makes for an incredibly compelling first watch, the film doesn’t hold the same weight on rewatch because it loses its shock factor.
This problem is not unique to “The Sixth Sense.” Other movies that feature a big revelation at the end fall flat the second and third time you watch them, especially if most of the plot action is geared toward that secret element. If it’s been years since the last time you watched, then it might be a good rewatch.