TO YOU BY:
Being a long time supporter of M. Night Shyamalan, I’ve adored many of his films, including the fantastic Unbreakable and Split. You could say that expectations were relatively high for this finale of two of his greatest films...was it worth the wait?
Shyamalan returns to direct his third installment of his “superhero” films. It’s been 19 years in the making, but it’s finally happened. What has he learned since the 2000 Unbreakable? Unfortunately, not a whole lot of good. The action is decently directed, however it is easily compromised by a needless first person cam that sheds away from displaying the entirety of the scenes. The dramatic talks are where he succeeds, as he did in Unbreakable and even more so in Split. Shyamalan manages to help his crippling dialogue with his slow crawl from person to person on screen. It’s a signature directing move that he has done countless times, and I’ve yet to grow tired of it. What suffers majorly in his direction is the constant knowledge of a twist in his stories, and boy do they come at the viewer hard with this one. Shyamalan’s final hurrah to conclude the series contains a lackluster fight scene that includes not one, but multiple twists, only to delay the unfortunate circumstances of those “clever” story junctures. It’s not that Shyamalan is providing a poorly directed film, but one that is easily forgettable and one that can’t match the quality of its predecessors.
This is primarily where Shyamalan suffers or succeeds, hardly ever finding middle ground. This film is his first big middle ground story - this is not at all the story I thought it would be, nor is it the one I wanted to conclude the tale, but it’s one that delivers in one way and fails in others. Glass is not a crowd pleaser, as it’s the way M. Night wanted it all to end, but not what audiences wanted to see - all in all it’s a strange brew. Known for his twists, he strikes out time after time while littering the finale with twist after twist. It’s neither surprising or pleasing and instead makes true fans of this series, such as myself, deeply angered.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
First of all, James McAvoy is a phenomenal actor, it’s incredibly difficult to dislike the man, and he is on full display in Glass. He gives his absolute all to the performance, shifting through persona after persona in a literal flash of a light. It’s easy though to gloat about the acclaim McAvoy deserves when his three main co-stars are practically dragging their feet at reprising their role. Willis stands around in silence while Jackson sits around in silence, and the only one acting to their full potential is McAvoy, who absolutely steals the show and makes the film tolerable. Sarah Paulson joins the trio as the fourth significant link in the film, and unfortunately this talented actress is once more absorbed in a character that’s easy to hate. Paulson is an actress I’d like to see break from this mold and play a character worth rooting for - it’s just unfortunate this can’t be it. The film brings back numerous characters from the past, one to sidekick each main character to be exact, and initially this seems like a great attribute for the film to have, but once Spencer Treat Clark starts acting, you instantly realize he wasn’t meant to reprise the role of Joseph Dunn - especially when delivering a crucial line later in the film, staggering with the dialogue and making it laughably dramatic. Anya Taylor-Joy returns as Kevin’s captive, and she manages to become a welcome addition to the this new story - especially when paired with McAvoy. The last is much more middle-ground than the others, as Charlayne Woodard returns as Elijah’s mother. Beyond a quick scene or two, she is merely in the film to be included - which is a true shame for the actress playing her. Shyamalan is problematic for avoiding short and precise dialogue, instead extending it to unnecessary lengths and having characters say things that a normal human would never say to another. This is the case here, and while it can be the fault of several actors that can’t deliver what the director/writer wants, it’s most likely the interference of bad screenwriting on Shyamalan’s part because conversations don’t flow as well as they should in Glass.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Removing the score of Split and Unbreakable, Glass attempts to encapsulate its own being in a score. However, it just never fully sells the actions on screen. Beginning in a heartfelt place, but soon turning dangerous and filled with mystery, the score composed by West Dylan Thordson is his weakest contribution to film yet, although it’s not a score that will hinder any potential enjoyment of the film. Thordson’s score just doesn’t manage to capture the tone that M. Night was trying to immaturely mix into one another. Silence appears to be used as a mechanism to make the asylum incredibly suspenseful, especially during scenes in which Mr. Glass is plotting or the Beast is unleashed. The sound design is effective and well utilized throughout the story, which is a big assisting factor in the total enjoyment of the final film.
Shyamalan has a unique visual style, and it shines brightly in Glass. Capturing the essence of the precious two films, the film is realistic yet artificial. Colorful yet dimly lit, Shyamalan understands how to create vibrant sets in his own unique styling that assists his storytelling needs. If Glass succeeds entirely in a single category it’d be this one, as it represents a wonderful depiction of just how isolated M. Night’s vision of his superhero drama is, and the set design is simple, yet compelling in the problem solving methods of the facility featuring both lighting and water. The makeup used to age Charlayne Woodard to play a woman of Elijah’s mother’s age isn’t phenomenal, but it works well enough for the amount of screen time she receives. But just as it was hard to believe she was his mother at the end of Unbreakable, this film has a similar issue, yet not enough to introduce any major criticism.
I wanted to love this film. I wanted this film to be the sequel that Unbreakable fans have been longing for, and I especially wanted a better final chapter to this trilogy than what we received with Glass. A massive disappointment by Shyamalan but not a completely spoiled series do to two outstanding predecessors and a brilliant performance this go around by James McAvoy, who is the actual deciding factor that makes this film work even in the slightest of sense. This isn’t the sequel we deserved, nor is it a superhero movie we really wanted, but it’s what we got, and I suppose we can make do...to some degree anyways.