“First name: Mister. Last name: Glass”
Initially, M. Night Shyamalan was a force to be reckoned with. This may all be ancient history, of course. Most folks no longer care enough about the man to fact check his history, but he really was perceived to be the next big thing. In fact, out of all of the films in his roster, the only movie that people loved so much they demanded a sequel to was Unbreakable, and now they finally have a real sequel. Sure, Split was a part of that as well, but in my books, it’s not a true sequel unless you continue the story following the original characters – and that’s what Glass finally does – but has M. Night let too much time pass?
As amazing as it is to see all of these characters finally occupy the same space together, I think Shyamalan lost his spark as far as his ability to tell a story goes. When a new M. Night Shyamalan film came out, people knew his films would be similar in tone, concept, cinematography, and visuals. Think about how many of his films feel dreamy, like a dark foreboding mystery that makes you cry out what is happening!? The way he solidified that idea was with great characters, symbolic imagery and elements (like water) and visuals (like light and color), soft-spoken dialogue, and a unique use of camerawork. It all came together to feel unlike anything else out there. Typically, his early work also ended with a massive twist-ending that changed the very way you watched the film, making an additional viewing that much more special in the long run.
The more films he made, the more of the aforementioned list he did away with. Whether or not he lost the things that made him special was on purpose or not is unknown, but the fact remains true: it’s not a well-oiled machine anymore. What remains in Glass are really great characters, and only one shot of great lighting and colors, but that’s where it stops feeling like M. Night Shyamalan. It’s not foreboding, it’s not soft-spoken, the camerawork isn’t really impressive, there’s not much focus on symbolic imagery, elements, or visuals. Actually, it’s kind of messy because I’m not sure Shyamalan knew how to write a movie with all of these characters and instead threw something together that wasn’t very solid. But we have lots to discuss. Let’s do it.
Elijah Price, also known as Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson), finds David Dunn (Bruce Willis) pursuing Kevin Wendell Crumb’s superhuman figure, The Beast (James McAvoy), in a series of escalating encounters. Price, armed with secrets critical to both men, emerges as a shadowy orchestrator.Universal Pictures
PEOPLE – 85% (17/20)
Acting – 3/4 | Characters – 4/4 | Casting – 4/4 | Importance – 3/4 | Chemistry – 3/4
Starting off with the People Category, you’ll notice that M. Night mostly did a great job here. There’s nothing wrong with the casting, characters, or honestly, acting. Pretty much every great thing in this category was borrowed from Split and Unbreakable but I digress. McAvoy is the pure definition of “range of acting” – so his performance impresses the most, and that is probably why it focuses a lot on his character, I just wish it focused more on the characters we haven’t seen in 19 years. I’d say there was definitely some great chemistry, just not everywhere it was needed, and because it is a bit of a sloppy story, I can’t say the characters hold much independent importance, but everyone does play a vital role into the general direction of the plot.
WRITING – 40% (4/10)
Dialogue – 1/2 | Balance – 0/2 | Story Depth – 0/2 | Originality – 1/2 | Interesting – 2/2
We jump straight from one great category to one bad…but what exactly is so bad about the writing in Glass? In general, everything. The first thing I realized while watching the film is there is no main character. There is no real protagonist or antagonist. You can discern the protagonist is Bruce Willis and the two antagonists are Samuel L. Jackson and James McAvoy from common knowledge, but the way the characters are focused on in the movie doesn’t quite feel that way – not from a movie vantage point…and honestly, I don’t think that was the intention. I don’t think M. Night knew how to write all the characters and their roles from a normal cinematic approach. Another problem was it was messy. You absolutely HAVE to watch the other movies to have any real idea on who these people are – it’s like the next scene in a movie, not an entirely different film – which means, as I’ll get into later, the introduction is weak. It has a hard time juggling between the characters and their relevance to the story. Because of that, you have no real story depth because it’s too busy trying to find footing elsewhere. Heck, even the dialogue was weak. Technically, it’s average, but you expect big memorable speeches from Samuel Jackson, and it never quite reaches that level. All-in-all, I’d say the writing was very weak.
BTS – 80% (8/10)
Visuals – 2/2 | Cinematography – 1/2 | Editing – 2/2 | Advertising – 2/2 | Music & Sound – 1/2
The approach taken behind-the-scenes was mostly done pretty well. I wouldn’t necessarily say as well as it used to be back in the early 2000’s, but still pretty good, generally speaking. The visuals are mostly normal, but there is one really cool shot where they use lighting and color in an impressive way, and I can’t ignore it, so that gets full points. Editing is also really good when they transition between modern shots filmed for this film mixed seamlessly with shots taken for the original film – so editing gets full points, but that’s it. As much as I loved the music in Unbreakable, I don’t think I can say the same for this film. It’s just fine for what it is, and the camerawork is as typical as it gets, which is very unlike M. Night Shyamalan.
NARRATIVE ARC – 80% (8/10)
Introduction – 1/2 | Inciting Incident – 2/2 | Obstacles – 1/2 | Climax – 2/2 | Resolution – 2/2
For the most part, the narrative structure in this film is fine. It has an issue fully introducing you to the characters, as it heavily relies on previous films to do that, but once they get that over with, everything is mostly fine. There’s not much of a central plot underneath it all, which doesn’t really help much, but there is an event early on that changes things, that is the inciting incident. There is a big culminating event towards the end that is easily seen as the climax, and it does calm down and return to a new sense of norm for a resolution.
ENTERTAINMENT – 60% (6/10)
Rewatchability – 1/2 | Fun Experience – 2/2 | Impulse to Buy or Own – 1/2 | Impulse to Talk about or Recommend – 1/2 | Riveting – 1/2
As mentioned beforehand, this was an anticipated film with a group of characters you’ve been dying to see for nearly two decades, of course it’s entertaining. It’s entertaining without really trying to be for the most part. I would definitely rewatch this movie, but I’d probably only do that as a series rewatch, if a friend popped it in, or if I caught it live on TV. Half points. I did have a good time watching the film in general, so that gets full points. I do have an impulse to own it, so I’d add it as a wish list item, but I probably wouldn’t buy it myself. I also think there’s plenty to discuss about the film, but I don’t really feel like recommending it. Finally, I think there is enough in the movie that’s important enough to make you feel like you can’t pause it, but that’s not always the case, so that gets half points.
SPECIALTY – 75% (30/40)
Unbreakable Franchise – 5/10 | Sequel – 10/10 | M. Night Shyamalan – 5/10 | Halfway Decent – 10/10
Finally, what do you expect to see from this film? Especially if you’re a fan of Unbreakable or M. Night Shyamalan? What is it that you actually want to see happen? That answer is different for everyone, but I think there are a few things that anybody would ask. Does it feel like it fits in well with Unbreakable? Yes and no. I think the characters fit in wonderfully, but it strangely feels more like a sequel to Split than Unbreakable, at least in tone and overall feel – so this gets half points. As a sequel, did people want to see it and did it add anything new? Yes and yes. Like I said before, in all of Shyamalan’s filmography, people wanted this film to be made – and does it add anything new? Absolutely – the inclusion of James McAvoy makes more sense than I originally thought – as Samuel L. Jackson is no physical match for Bruce Willis. Full points. As an M. Night Shyamalan film, I think it’s fine, but it doesn’t really feel like him, half points. Halfway Decent – did they make the movie they intended to make from the get go? I had to think on that for a while, but I think for the most part, it did, so that gets full points.