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M. Night Shymalan is admittedly not one of my favorite film directors. While I do appreciate that he has some creativity when it comes to his films and chooses to go with his vision despite others not really agreeing with it, I feel that his films took a major dip towards being objectively bad. His latest film, Glass, is something that I personally felt was an okay, but flawed film. In it, the film concerns David, Kevin Wendell Crumb, and Elijah Price being taken to an institution whose main goal is to try to convince the patients that they are actually delusional. It does start off as something actually thought-provoking, and the explanations that were given did make sense in some ways. For the remainder of the movie though, there will be SPOILERS. BE WARNED.
So, as per usual, Shymalan loves his twists. Here, we have a whopping three twists. The first two are kind of average, but the third one was especially bad. In the first one, we learn that Kevin's father was one of the many casualties of the train wreck masterminded by Elijah "Mr. Glass" Price in the first of the trilogy Unbreakable. So in the same train accident that awakened David's potential, Mr. Glass had inadvertently created the Horde. Okay. Since Split had Kevin mention briefly that his father died in a train accident, it makes sense. But then came the more insulting twist.
It turns out that Dr. Ellie Sharpe (had to look up her name) was actually secretly a member of an Illuminati-esque organization that had apparently existed for THOUSANDS OF YEARS. WHAT!? The reason as to why there hadn't been any other individuals similar to the three aforementioned? Because this secret society was dedicated to suppressing those with superhuman abilities from emerging because that would inevitably lead to superheroes and supervillains which would endanger the lives of civilians whether by gaslighting them into believing that they are just delusional, or outright genocide. Aside from some officers having clover tattoos on their wrists, there was little to no indication that a secret organization existed. This of course goes into another issue that I have: the deaths. In short, all three characters are killed off. David is drowned in a puddle of water that isn't even an inch deep, Kevin is shot, Mr. Glass gets his shoulder shattered, etc. While I respect Shymalan for not taking the course of action that many had thought he would, the fact that he allows his characters to die in such undignified fashion is shameful.
There are other issues the film has such as Mr. Glass not appearing in the film until about 30 minutes in or how the action scenes where David and Kevin dual off are bland. I'm not expecting any MCU or DCEU style action, but at most, they jump out of a window. The young woman from Split returns and apparently holds no ill will towards Kevin for murdering her friends in the previous film. I mean, she treats Kevin almost as if he was a beaten down puppy. Yes, Kevin had his own reasons for why he became the way he was, but he is STILL dangerous because of his many personalities. But the worst has to do with the ending.
Turns out that Mr. Glass's plan involving the new building was a misdirect. He was never planning on leaving the institution. Instead, he hacks into the facility's computer surveillance cameras and uses that to download footage of David and Kevin's fight and after his death, the survivors upload it to the internet, thus many people began to wake up to the reality of supers. Okay...while Mr. Glass is undoubtedly highly intelligent, this plan doesn't really make any sense. many videos can be easily edited to accentuate what is actually going on. So, even if people saw the video of the brawl? Wouldn't it be more likely that some would assume that is a well-crafted, edited video? Would anyone seriously think anything they saw on the internet was true? It just comes off as very flawed, even for Mr. Glass.
There are some good moments in the film such as Mr. Glass's interactions with his mother and how she is really the only one to understand him. James Mc Avoy once again stole the show through his character of Kevin Wendell Crumb, and Samuel L. Jackson is once again great as Mr. Glass once he started to get back in his game. Other than that, it was disappointing, but only if you had high expectations.
I have no idea why Glass is getting terrible reviews. Frankly I think this film is genius and even now, hours later I'm still unpacking the film's themes, Shayamalan's intent for the film, and my overall emotions regarding the whole thing.
First off, this is not some big, ultimate, climactic superhero vs. supervillain crossover battle. The film's too grounded for that, and when David Dunn does face off against The Beast the overall exchanges don't get hyperbolic or well-choreographed. We don't even get the usual "movie brutality". Because the story isn't really about that.
Really, the story continues Unbreakable's themes of comic books being a sensationalized representation of amazing acts and gifted individuals... by calling it all into question. We've had two movies to accept this setting where there are men with superhuman strength and resiliance, and now Sarah Paulson's character Ellie Staple is introduced to attempt to refute all of this and offering an alternate explanation for everything we've seen. It's meant to make us wonder, or at least make the characters wonder, and dear god does it succeed at that. We get multiple close-ups of various characters' faces, to convey not just their emotions but also their feelings, be it uncertainty, isolation, or even resolute belief.
And ultimately, without spoiling too much, the film ends up being about the conflict between wonderment and finding your purpose vs. a cynical disillusionment and suppression of individuality. And this goes beyond simply the idea of good vs. evil, the conflict that many assumed this film would be about, because the question of whether or not those good vs. evil conflict have a place in the world to begin with. It reminds me of other semi-superhero films like Birdman, where the greatest evil is in fact just oppressive dispassion. I know plenty of people don't like the ending, but if the film were any different then the impact of that ending wouldn't be there when it is the most crucial thing about it.
So yeah, it's amazing.
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