Hey, y’all! I’m back! I know it’s been a month since I’ve posted anything, let alone the weekly movie trailers post (those are a lot of work, and I’ve been busy in the real world, so I haven’t gotten around to them. I’ll have to see how behind I really am before deciding how I’m going to continue). Also, movies in January are bad usually, so there’s not been a whole lot worth seeing lately, with this movie being the only real noteworthy exception.
Glass is the end of M. Night Shyamalan’s 19-year-old Unbreakable trilogy, with 2017’s Split being the surprise second film, revealing that Bruce Willis’ David Dunn exists in the same world as James McAvoy’s Horde/Beast. The final moments of that second film promised the unbreakable/super strong Dunn would track down the Beast and fight him one on one, which felt like a more traditional superhero movie than Unbreakable ever would have suggested. As the film’s trailers (which I dug) began to come out, it suggested there would be more to the movie than just an epic superhero battle, as it focused primarily on Sarah Paulson’s Dr. Staple, a psychologist who specializes in “delusions of grandeur,” who spends her time trying to explain that Dunn’s strength, the Beast’s strength, speed, etc, and Samuel L. Jackson’s Elijah Price’s (Mr. Glass) high intelligence could all be explained through normal means, instead of the three of them being superpowered. The trailer however did promise the big showdown fans who had seen Split were hoping for, as The Beast and Mr. Glass team-up to fight David Dunn. We’d spend some time in that psych unit and then have like a solid half-hour of all out superhero action to end the film.
That is, uh, not what this movie is. Of the film’s two hours and nine-minute runtime, I would say about 15-20 minutes of that are the film’s trinity of super-powered folks interacting with each other in ways where their powers are on full display. The rest of the movie is just people talking at each other, with the film’s main character honestly feeling like Paulson’s Staple, whose job it is to gaslight our heroes/villains into thinking that their obviously very real superpowers are not that at all. The film’s penchant for simply talking at the audience, combined with the admittedly bonkers decisions/twists that wrap up the movie, are very legitimate reasons for why this movie is Shyamalan’s return to a world of negative reviews/audience reactions.
I, on the other hand, thought this movie forking owned. On some level, this opinion comes from an outright respect for Shyamalan’s choice to say to himself “I know that most of you want a superhero movie where there is a giant climactic battle where these super-strong characters throw cars at each other, while Mr. Glass manipulates the hell out of those around him to get what he wants, but, honestly, I don’t give a single shirt about what you want, here are 90 minutes of psychology.” And in a world that is very obviously drowning in superhero properties (all of which are starting to feel like they’ll be a bit dead on arrival after Spider-Verse), taking a step back from traditional superhero fare is not a bad idea, especially when your step back grounds the movie in reality in a way that doesn’t feel dark for the sake of being dark *glares at the rubble of the DCEU that Wonder Woman and somehow Aquaman/Harley Quinn are trying to clean up*.
The reality of this movie is that the world’s reaction to the very idea of someone with superpowers would be “okay, yeah, you’re insane. Stay away from us, we don’t understand you and we hate you.” In a country where gay conversion camps are still legal in most states, locking people away and telling them that a very significant part of them is fake and wrong, and using any means necessary to convince them of this, is unfortunately all too real. And the film’s biggest scene of this, one that was heavily utilized in the film’s promotional material (see below), is a nice showcase for Willis and McAvoy to show how heartbreaking it would be to call into doubt something about yourself that you cannot control (Jackson would probably have used the scene well, too, but his character is catatonic, but, also, Mr. Glass is too smart for all of Staple’s nonsense). McAvoy, in particular, flicks between personalities in this scene well (just as he did in Split and throughout the entirety of this film’s runtime), with base personality Kevin Crumb getting a nice moment of fear, and one of the Beast’s more supportive personalities really being torn by the idea that their faith in this superior entity is tragically misplaced. It’s all tremendously frustrating and kind of evil and maybe we should make conversion camps illegal, and if you disagree, check your privilege and stop being trash.
Is this the climatic showdown between David Dunn, Elijah Price and the villainous personalities residing within Kevin Crumb that we were hoping for? The answer to this question is a pretty objective “lolz, no.” Is the final product better than a more traditional superhero movie directed by the guy whose biggest action sequence to date is either Joaquin Phoenix hitting a CGI alien with a baseball bat or a dude offering himself to a lion? I would argue yes, but can also grant that “again, lolz, no” is itself a valid answer. But I hope that we can all agree: the Spongebob Squarepants episode “Band Geeks” is objectively the greatest 12 minutes of any media. I know you think that this is apropos of nothing, but I’ll tell you that I am watching this episode right now, so, there, I’m right.
Photo Credits Cover Photo https://d13ezvd6yrslxm.cloudfront.net/wp/wp-content/images/glass-sdcc-poster-frontpage-700x338.jpg The Beast Roars https://www.gannett-cdn.com/presto/2019/01/21/USAT/142ae473-5af2-43b2-89ff-add712628c71-5732_CC_00060.jpg?width=580&height=326&fit=bounds&auto=webp Lineup https://www.slashfilm.com/wp/wp-content/images/Glass-trailer.jpg