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M. Night Shyamalan is an iconic director who is known for his mind bending plot twists, and signature vision behind the camera. But he's also one known for the ebbs and flows in his professional work, as not every Shyamalan flick has been a critical or box office success. Early favorites like The Sixth Sense and Signs come with flops like The Happening, making each new release a fascinating gamble for audiences.
But M. Night Shyamalan has been on the upswing lately, especially with his last two releases. The Visit was a surprisingly horrifying twist on the found footage sub-genre of horror, and he really hit it big with 2016's Split. The psychological thriller made money and earned great reviews, and its twist ending revealed it was actually connected to Shyamalan's 2000 take on a superhero movie, Unbreakable. Those two movies are set to collide with Glass, although the movie's reviews haven't been exactly glowing.
Despite the anticipation and nearly two decades of filmmaking involved, Glass largely failed to resonate with critics. CinemaBlend's own review scored it poorly, and it's currently sitting on a mere 36% on Rotten Tomatoes. This type of reception has the potential to be damning for certain projects, although Glass is still tracking for a strong opening weekend at the box office. And I hope so, as I think more people should ignore the reviews and check out the ambitious crossover film.
The entertainment world is being dominated by the superhero genre, as countless networks and studios attempt to get in on the trend and cash in. The threat of superhero fatigue is looming over the comic book genre, so filmmakers must bring something new and exciting in order to carve out a corner of the market. That makes the timing of Glass especially perfect, as the movie draws attention to the superheroes as it deconstructs the genre before your eyes.
Like Unbreakable before it, comic books are at the heart of Glass' narrative. Elijah Prince is a rolling comic book encyclopedia, as the character actually owned a gallery that was a tribute to the iconic pages of Marvel and DC. Samuel L. Jackson's character believes that comics actually show the world's true nature, and fancies himself a supervillain to Bruce Willis' David Dunn. This is a narrative that continues through Glass, and forces moviegoers to examine the tropes that they've become to used to throughout a decade of Marvel blockbusters.
Because M. Night Shyamalan is so privy to superhero movies, Glass is constantly addressing its own possible plot holes. And by the end of the film, almost every lingering question you had was answered. Yes, Shyamalan provides another mind-mending plot twist, but the narrative of the Unbreakable trilogy still managed to wrap up its story in a nice bow.
And while Glass was born from Split's final scene, the new movie stands on its own two feet narratively. There is no mid-credits sequence connecting the movie to another from M. Night Shyamalan's catalogue. Instead, the story is contained, and we'll presumably hear no more from David Dunn, Mr. Glass, or The Horde.
Perhaps the most successful aspect of Glass is how M. Night Shyamalan expertly balanced the cast of characters, giving each of the film's A-List cast a chance to shine in the process. While Kevin Crumb's personalities fight over control of the light, Shyamalan makes sure to share the wealth, not allowing the trio of Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, and James McAvoy steamroll over the film's strong supporting cast.
While not featuring nearly the same amount of characters as Marvel's Avengers: Infinity War, M. Night Shyamalan arguably achieved the same sweet spot of balance that The Russo Brothers did with their massively expensive blockbuster. Once the trio of protagonists are admitted under the care of Sarah Paulson's newcomer Ellie Staple, we follow as the good doctor pivots to each character's room. And while Samuel L. Jackson's Elijah is mute for the first act of the film, that doesn't stop the film and Ellie from focusing on him.
Indeed, Sarah Paulson's new character is a major presence in the film, allowing the American Horror Story icon to prove why she's become one of Hollywood's most dynamic leading ladies. Paulson elevates her scenes, allowing new colors to come from old characters. Glass' first trailer opens up on Ellie's face, and there's certainly a reason why Shyamalan chose to feature her in this way.
Another major highlight for Glass is the trio of supporting characters. Anya Taylor-Joy, Spencer Treat Clark, and Charlayne Woodard all reprise their roles from Split and Unbreakable respectively, much to the joy of those films' many fans. Rather than simply filling out the ensemble and bringing more crossover possibilities, the characters of Casey Cooke, Joseph Dunn, and Mrs. Price help to buoy Glass in true realness, and bring emotional stakes to the superheroic story. While many comic book movies fail to elicit extremes of emotions from moviegoers, those three non-powered characters carry the heart of Glass.
Because while the story is very much focused on Ellie's treatment of the leads and the continuing rivalry between David Dunn and his two nemeses, it's also about family, and the supporting characters represent that. David Dunn is still his son Joseph's hero (lol), and he's shown trying to get his father out of incarceration. Furthermore, Mrs. Prince continues to visit and support his son, despite his dark past and mute state at the start of the film.
But it's Anya Taylor-Joy's Casey that largely steals the show. As she did with Split, Casey's vulnerability and tenacity shine throughout Glass. And her connection with James McAvoy's Kevin Wendell Crumb is one of the most fascinating and touching aspects of M. Night Shyamalan's new threequel. Set just weeks after Split, Casey is still reeling from her near-death experience, and healing from the abuse inflicted by her Uncle.
While Glass might not be the critical darling that Split was, M. Night Shyamalan does craft something totally unique to the otherwise overstuffed superhero genre. And for those doubting just remember: Unbreakable wasn't a critical hit when it first arrived in 2000 either.
Glass is in theaters now. Be sure to check out our 2019 release list to plan your trips to the movies this year.