Six years ago The black Knight and Iron Man Simultaneously ushering in a new era of superhero movies, M. Night Shyamalan released a superhero tale that challenged the idea of what one would expect from the genre. With a budget of $ 75 million, and studios confident in him after the meteoric success of The sixth sense, by Shyamalan Unbreakable twisted comic book history into what felt like an independent psychological thriller, deconstructing our whole concept of comic book hero. Bruce Willis’ David Dunn wasn’t just a reluctant hero; he was also not sure if his abilities should even be considered superpowers. The film was light on action, CGI, a climactic showdown with a big bad guy, and everything you’d expect from a superhero movie – in fact, that it was a superhero movie was only revealed at the end of its twist.
Over the next 17 years, Unbreakable felt like an anomaly in many ways. Many consider this to be the last big-ticket movie to be directed by Shyamalan. It also remained one of the very few original superhero screenplays to become a big budget Hollywood movie, no sequel, or adapted from an existing source.
That’s until the close of 2017 To divide. In a truly unheard-of twist (even for Shyamalan), To divide was not marketed as a superhero movie or a sequel to anything. For most of its runtime, the movie just looked like a thriller about a split-personality man who kidnapped young women. But after its adjacent supernatural climax, we learned that To divide takes place in the same universe as Unbreakable-and To divide was an origin story for the villain who would go on to face Bruce Willis’ The Overseer.
Many critics have considered To divide a return to form for Shyamalan – the movie was good, if not great, and it actually provided a twist that didn’t act like some sort of gimmick. Now, unlike the previous two entries in the Shyamalan trilogy, A glass is candid about its subject as another chapter in the series and indeed includes the three main actors and their overpowered characters: The Overseer by Bruce Willis, Mr. Glass by Samuel L. Jackson and The Horde by James McAvoy.
As Unbreakable and To divide before that, A glass is the complete antithesis of anything one would expect from a movie like this. This is a superhero movie for those who fundamentally reject the concept of a superhero movie. It’s like the story of a punk rock comic book, but what if the punk rock band got drunk and forgot half of their songs.
I fully respect Shyamalan’s ambition over the past two decades (whether supported or not) to create something totally unique, something unheard of in this specific genre and in Hollywood at a higher level. I respect that he did To divide on a fraction of the budget of Unbreakable, and this glass was made with only $ 20 million.
But what’s disappointing is that, despite the ambitious profession, Shyamalan didn’t really pull it off.
A glass takes place shortly after the events of To divide. McAvoy’s Kevin Crumb is still on the loose and still kidnaps young women to sacrifice them to… something? David Dunn of Willis still lives in Philadelphia despite his weakness to rain; one might assume, from this film, that it rains constantly in Philadelphia. (Maybe Dunn could move to Southern California?) Dunn now owns his own security company, and although he is a man with superhuman strength and durability, he uses his abilities to tracking down the Jake Paul guys posting shitty videos on YouTube.
Very early in the film, Dunn faces off against the Horde, and the two engage in a battle, which consists of what appear to be light pushes and intermediate wrestling moves. They are both immediately arrested by the police: Dunn because he is a vigilante, Crumb because he has kidnapped and murdered several young women. It’s unclear why these two crimes are equivalent in the eyes of the Philadelphia Police Department (for what it’s worth, the real reason is revealed later).
For the next few hours – or at least that’s what it feels like – Sarah Paulson’s Dr. Ellie Staple delves into the psyche of Dunn, Crumb and Mr. Glass of Samuel L. Jackson, who is being held in the same mental asylum. Dunn never once demands due process or asks why he is being held without being convicted of any crime. Instead, Willis is simply sitting in a white room unaffected by everything around him. Glass, meanwhile, is sedated throughout this part of the film. Instead, we just watch James McAvoy give a series of monologues of his character’s multiple personalities, which cease to be entertaining after the first three.
During this second act of the film, the character of Paulson spends an incredible amount of time chatting with these three guys in order to make them understand that their supernatural abilities are all in their heads. She continues to use the buzzword “frontal lobe,” which is a random pseudo-science that she uses to explain how they’re not really superheroes because they actually have some sort of brain dysfunction. . The whole thing is extremely frustrating because a lot of this movie is shot in lab rooms, we the audience have seen that these superpowers exist, and the endless chatter about them is really boring.
While none of this works the way a movie should, I once again appreciate what Shyamalan is doing here. He tries to sum up to his very nature what it means to be a superhero while also analyzing how trauma influences what we can and cannot do as human beings. As he continues to dissect the genre as he surreptitiously did in Unbreakable and To divide (although he doesn’t show his work until those films’ respective twists and turns), the problem is, none of this is fun to watch. Instead of really digging into ideas, Paulson’s character just seems like a boring buzzkill. (Although I admit I laughed at his line, “Have you ever been to a comic book convention? They sell teen TV shows.” That in itself felt less like an attempt to analyze the kind of to show how toothless and commercial this multi-billion dollar industry really is.)
The film ends up breaking free from the confines of the psychiatric ward when Glass eventually escapes, befriends the Horde, and asks them to help blow up a new building on the day it opens so everyone can. see that superheroes exist. But before anyone can go anywhere, the Overseer takes on the Horde on the Asylum Lawn where they have another scramble match. And that’s when it all comes together in a disappointing way, a laughable ending that not only undermines A glass as a film, but also the film trilogy as a whole.
While barely comparing itself to the surprising endings of the infamous twist-obsessed Shyamalan’s previous work, the finale comes across as a big middle finger to the comics, superheroes, the film industry, the universe. Marvel Cinematic, to anyone who has even enjoyed one of these movies from a distance. While there is an underlying theme that suggests how we Normans would react and react to overpowered humans, if they existed in our own reality, the message is not as strong as Shyamalan hopes. What he delivers is a sometimes hilarious satire of the Hollywood franchise machine, which ends in a battle in which no one – not their cast, director, or audience – stands a chance.
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