M. Night Shyamalan's semi-sequel still victim of the twist 

Glass is Not Ass

click to enlarge 5732_d023_00103_rv3.jpg_cmyk.jpg

Courtesy Universal Pictures

At some point, going to an M. Night Shyamalan film became a case of praying for the best and prepping for the worst. Personally it probably kicked in around the time The Happening came to the formerly sexplex Citadel Mall. If they recut the music into a more lighthearted tone and added a few cartoon sound effects, The Happening would likely have been a great comedy.

Shyamalan, with some help from Jason Blum, would later return to the screen with a "small" found footage film The Visit. It was OK I guess? The best thing about that Cinebarre screening was the screaming teenagers two rows behind me and some friends. I'm not joking. It was great to hear someone — maybe the film's target demo — deriving enjoyment from it because by the time the white boy rap-laden credits kicked in, I was ready to douse my eyes with Drano.

Now Glass, the heavily anticipated semi-sequel to two of his best films Split and Unbreakable, has entered into theaters. Essentially two characters from Unbreakable, David Dunn (Bruce Willis) and Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), a.k.a. Mr. Glass, meet a psychotic man with multiple identities, Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy) from Split. Dunn's pursuit of Crumb's The Beast persona ultimately lands them in an asylum that Price resides in. In between visits by a curious doctor (Sarah Paulson), a diabolical showdown is hatched while supporting characters from the previous films attempt to stop the ensuing chaos.

I was one of those heavily anticipating people until I accidentally ran across an article citing early negative reviews. Despite my wariness, I still wanted to see this movie.

Three hours later ...

As I sit here with the Terrace screening still fresh in my mind. I came away conflicted. I'll just reel off my likes real quick: James McAvoy morphed through stereotypical personas amazingly. Bruce Willis played his role of Moody Bruce Willis pretty well. Samuel L. Jackson glowered menacingly. The acting from everyone is top notch. I really dug the super serious tone. The low key fight scenes were pretty cool. I was onboard with the first 80 minutes of the 110-minute movie. I loved the constant build up and promise of spectacle. I admire how insanely respectful of comic book tropes it seems to be. Overall, it's fairly obvious one character will reveal to be more than meets the eye and I still was on board.

There were a lot of things to like in this movie and only a couple dislikes. It's a shame they felt so glaring. My dislikes would go into spoiler territory so I'll attempt to be vague while getting my point across: The last 30 minutes slowly descended into borderline patronizing exposition city. Predictably, Shyamalan couldn't resist going for the twist not once but three or four times. This would've been fine if it didn't seem like he was in a rush to wrap things up rather than maybe dole out information in hints and clues throughout the film. Seriously, there are moments in that 30 minutes where the actors may have well just broken the fourth wall and addressed the audience. It was confounding.

I'm honestly curious why M. Night seemed to be adamant on taking a giant wizz on the audience in the third act. Was it intentional to ruin all the goodwill you shored up from Unbreakable, Split, and the first 80 minutes of Glass? Is this all because of us snide dickheads that snickered at Mark Wahlberg's constantly furrowed brow in The Happening?

click to enlarge Bruce Willis heads up a gang of high school cheerleaders ... um, we think? - COURTESY UNIVERSAL PICTURES
  • Courtesy Universal Pictures
  • Bruce Willis heads up a gang of high school cheerleaders ... um, we think?

Or maybe M. Night just can't help himself? Maybe he has to M. Night it all up by giving into that twist impulse because he's been stuck with that schtick since day one?

It's so frustrating because a few scenes were profoundly touching. There are moments where it felt like watching golden era Spielberg. It is so good. In those moments.

I'm really curious what comic book enthusiasts will think of it. Much like Unbreakable and Split, the story of Glass is a self-contained tale that eschews spectacle for storytelling. As a person who's thirstier than a drunken douchebro for original stories that seemingly come from the heart and not from committee, Glass succeeded. But damn if that last 30 minutes was too much for me. I'm hoping maybe I missed something?

I didn't hate Glass. Which is unfortunate because I was really hoping to use the "Glass is Total Ass" headline. I didn't love it either, which is unfortunate because I was truly looking forward to seeing where Shyamalan would take his amazing creations. While my faith in Shyamalan is still unbreakable, I am starting to split like a fragile piece of glass. Wow. That previous sentence was really unsatisfying. Much like the conclusion of this potentially great movie.

Glass — Directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Starring James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Bruce Willis, Sarah Paulson, and Samuel L. Jackson. Rated PG-13.


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