Revisiting Scream 3 (2000) & Iron Man 2 (2010)

Sequels are funny things. Like a lot of people who think about movies way too much, I tend to judge them pretty harshly. Do they hold up to the original? Are they better? Does this story make sense? Is it necessary? The real question should simply be, is it any good? Was it entertaining? Did I like it? Upon re-watching a pair of sequels recently, I feel like I’m either becoming a nicer viewer or (hopefully) less judgmental. I think there’s also something to be said for experience with a story making it easier to digest even if there are elements that you find bothersome. You know they’re they, you see them coming and you adjust your viewing as necessary.

That actually wasn’t the case with Scream 3, which I watched towards the end of last week. The first and only other time I saw this movie was in the theaters when it came out in 2000. I’ve never been a huge fan of the Scream series (you can read my review of the first one here), but they were gigantic to the horror community that I was just getting into as they came out. I remember liking the third installment, thinking that the filmmakers were really playing with the genre and having fun with it. I mean, it’s not a flat out comedy by any means, but I remember feeling a sense of winking towards the audience, especially in the scene where the killer throws a knife at Dewey and the handle smacks him in the head. That bit still made me laugh.

But, I wasn’t seeing or noticing the humor as much this time around. Yes, I was working and it was kind of on in the background while I was doing other things, but it just wasn’t as prevalent. I still liked the movie and think it’s pretty good, but there were two aspects that got on my nerves. First off, and I know I liked this at the time, but the Jay and Silent Bob cameos are just super weird and kind of pointless. I’m saying this as someone who loves those characters, those movies and Smith in general, but they really took me out of the movie. But, they weren’t nearly as bad as that ridiculous voice modulator thing that so much of the movie depends on. Does that kind of thing even exist? I feel like if it did, there would be an app. Anyway, I get the idea that it makes everyone you’re not seeing directly in front of you suspect, but it gets to the point where you as a viewer can’t trust anyone and just become more and more disconnected. It also made me far more aware of off-screen dialog which took me out of the store even more. Without that aspect, the movie would actually be pretty damn solid. I don’t even mind the retconning stuff because I think it fits in pretty well and all makes sense. Plus, it’s another not to old horror movies, though this one far more unsettling. With that, I’ve watched the first and third movies in the past few years and just need to rewatch 2 and see 4 for the first time. I’ve heard good things.

After writing up a piece about Iron Man 3 for Spinoff, I remembered that 2 was on Netflix Instant and gave it another watch. I honestly didn’t remember many of my opinions about the movie from the first time I saw it other than a deep desire to punch Justin Hammer in the face. After going back and re-reading my original review of the film, it turns out that that same elements spoke to me both times. I liked it, it’s a big fun action movie. The performances are great. I didn’t like Sam Jackson that time around, but none of that stuff bothered me this time. And, while I still despise Justin Hammer as a character and think he came off kind of cartoony, I don’t think Sam Rockwell’s portrayal of him is all that far from people like him in the real world.

It’s actually kind of funny that I remembered most of the scenes of the movie, but couldn’t remember how I felt about them. There were bits I forgot, like Tony Stark’s dad as a kind of Walt Disney character. I’m actually listening to a book about Pixar right now that got into some of the “I’ve got these ideas, but haven’t developed the technology just yet, maybe they will n the future” ideas that were directly stated in this film. It’s interesting how the things you’re reading/watching/listening to can inadvertently segue into one another.

Anyway, I’ve found that repeated viewings of the first Iron Man tend to leave me a little flat. I still like all the character stuff they did and Robert Downey Jr. makes an awesome Tony Stark, but the ending definitely has diminishing returns. I understand that they wanted to show that Tony Stark could perservere over a larger, more powerful oponent, but that battle is just boring the third or fourth time around. Similarly, the one between Iron Man, War Machine and Mickey Rourke at the end of this one’s a bit lame. You get that awesome sequence with them taking on the drones and then you finish up with Tony and Rhodey aiming blasters at the Ruskie and he explodes? Eh. These things are great the first time around, but don’t always make for the best repeated viewings which is what I want from my movies. Still, it’s a movie packed with fun and shows just one small aspect of how cool an Avengers movie can and hopefully will be.

Friday Fisticuffs: X-Men Origins Wolverine (2009)

I was not excited about watching X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Like with many comic book movies that came out between 2005 and 2009, I was pretty burned out on them by the time they debuted thanks to working at Wizard. In the research department, we’d struggle to find headshots of actors that most people hadn’t heard of, usually for free or low cost. Not an easy task, especially when they wanted to run different ones each issue. The reason I wasn’t rushing out to see the flick is because I didn’t hear good things. People seemed to generally dislike the movie. After putting off X-Men 3 and not liking that flick, I figured my days of watching X-Men movies were over for a bit.

Then folks started liking First Class (which I still haven’t seen) and I’ve gotten over most of my image-finding issues by now, so I not only added the movie to our queue, but bumped it up to the top. The missus wanted to check it out, so it took a bit for both of us to find time to sit down and watch it, but once we did, I actually liked it.

I’ve got questions about how everything fits together. Is the girl who turns into diamonds in this movie supposed to be the same as Emma Frost in First Class? Why did they bother including Cyclops? Exactly how many powers did Gambit have? Who are all these characters Wolverine’s fighting alongside? But even with questions like that, I still had fun with the flick. There’s a good deal of action, fun use of powers and an intriguing enough story, though one that would be just as at home in a Jean Claude Van Damme movie as anything else. I especially liked the early scenes with Agent Zero and Deadpool, those were pretty well put together and made me wish the movie was just about those guys running around kicking ass.

Even with my limited X-Men knowledge, I still couldn’t turn off that part of my brain that wonders who’s who, how they fit in to the grander universe and how the movie version differs from the comic version. It’s annoying. I wish I could just flip a switch and not spend so much time trying to figure out which mutant Dominic Monaghan or what role John Wraith played in the comics. To be fair, my wife was wondering about these things as well, so it wasn’t like I was the only one. I had to keep telling her I had no idea what was going on, which I kind of enjoyed.

The movie might get overly dramatic at times, but that’s part of the Wolverine game. I did like how they wound up erasing his memory so that the first three movies would make a little bit more sense and I thought it was clever how they got around the problem of having Cyclops there and even what happened to Stryker at the end. I want to believe it fits in well with the established movies, but I haven’t seen them recently enough to really judge the continuity and like I said, I haven’t seen First Class, though I am excited to. X2 is still my favorite of the bunch and sits up there pretty high on the list of my all time favorite comic book movies. Wolverine doesn’t come close to it, but it’s a fun continuation of the world set up by Bryan Singer.