On rewatching and replaying

We live in a world with more entertainment than any person can be expected to enjoy even sticking to just one medium. Add in all the different types of media out there and it can be overwhelming. There are great games and movies coming out on an almost weekly basis. I’ve already written about this issue when it comes to TV. I don’t want to retread covered ground, though. I want to talk about something a little different today:

Returning to the same things, whether games, movies, TV, or otherwise.

With so much out there, it’s tough to come back to anything for a second (or third, or fourth…) time. It’s been years since I fully embraced the art of returning to something again and again, excluding The Office which is practically on repeat on my Netflix account.

Inception Poster
© Warner Bros.

Inception came out on DVD and Blu-ray in December 2010. I watched it a few times before realizing that the DVD would auto-repeat after its several dozen copyright warning screens, and I must have had it looping for a month after that. I can’t even count how many times I ended up actually watching the whole movie in that period, but I think it’s safe to say the tally’s at least nearing the century mark.

Uncharted 3 released on November 1, 2011. I picked it up at its midnight launch and played through the whole thing three times over the 56 hours that followed. I replayed it another two times (along with Uncharted and Uncharted 2) when they showed up on PS4 as The Nathan Drake Collection.

In both of those cases, it’s something close to magic. I loved Inception more than any movie in a long time on my first viewing, and I still love it today. Uncharted was one of the first games I played on PlayStation 3, and the series jumped to all-time favorite for me with its excellent followups in 2009 and 2011.

I’ve had less and less free time since then, though, and the free time I do have is generally spent enjoying something new, or at least new for me.

I sat down and watched a movie 130 times in 2016. Nine of those times I was rewatching a movie I’d seen before. Two of those were movies I’d seen for the first time earlier in 2016. For anyone keeping score, that means that through the entire year I rewatched just seven movies I’d seen before 2016. A little over four months into 2017, I’ve rewatched three movies. That number’s likely to go up later this month because I don’t think it’s possible to resist the pull of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, making a second viewing almost inevitable.

On the gaming side, I hadn’t replayed a game since the aforementioned Uncharted games until earlier this year. I tried to go through Uncharted 4 a second time to chase that Platinum trophy, but it just didn’t seem worth it. Then I finally played Dishonored, which was immediately followed by a second time through. After months of other focusing on other things and making excuses, I played Dishonored 2 last week. I’m now two-thirds of the way through my second time with that game.

Dishonored 2, Arkane/Bethesda
© Arkane/Bethesda

That’s not to say I enjoy the Dishonored games more than Uncharted 4, although that might be true from a gameplay perspective. But the Dishonored games invite players to return for a second time through. They almost demand it, especially in the case of Dishonored 2. In both cases, I started with a no powers playthrough and moved to full stealth for the second. The game is drastically different with these different play styles, and the difference is magnified by playing as a different character each time through Dishonored 2.

If there’s one thing Dishonored has taught me, it’s that it’s not a matter of lacking interest or desire that keeps me from replaying games. It’s a reason to do it. In their case, it’s the fact that the game feels entirely fresh on the second time through. In the case of What Remains of Edith Finch, which I played twice in two days, it’s the matter of being able to enjoy something even more when you already know what’s going to happen.

The same could be said for movies, as there are plenty which offer additional insight or enjoyment when you have the freedom to focus on more than just the story playing out in front of you. When you can afford to focus on the little details and search for things you may have missed. When you can spot all the clues along the way that made the conclusion all but inevitable. That’s true of many of Christopher Nolan’s movies, including Inception.

It’s a compelling reason to rewatch a movie, but it’s rarely the reason I actually do it. It’s all about enjoyment for me, whether it’s my first time watching a movie or my 100th. That’s why the first two movies I rewatched this year were The Lego Movie and Jurassic Park. The latter is movie magic from my childhood (and a damn good movie regardless) and the former captures a child-like experience perfectly.

They’re the exception to the rule, though. For every Inception or Guardians of the Galaxy  I watch multiple times there are at least a dozen other movies I enjoy and immediately move on from. For every Uncharted or Dishonored I play a second or third time there’s another game or two I play and know I’ll never return to.

And both of those options are okay. I’m slowly learning to let go of the mindset that I have to always seek out something new to enjoy. Sometimes it’s okay to sit back and enjoy a second time through something. Or a third. Or…

Do you rewatch movies and replay games? Do you go through once and move on right away? Let me know in the comments.





8 thoughts on “On rewatching and replaying

  1. […] Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 keeps the Guardians as the most unique part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but Quill and company won’t be alone in their own section of it for long. There’s a greater narrative being set up here, leading to the Guardians’ impending collision with the rest of the MCU in Avengers: Infinity War, but Vol. 2 is largely its own story. And it’s a story worth watching. And watching and watching… […]


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