Avatar image for theamazingspidey
Posted by TheAmazingSpidey (17419 posts) - - Show Bio

TAS Reviews: Glass

With Unbreakable, M. Night Shyamalan delivered one of the most original movies within the superhero genre: grounded, personal and intimate, M. Night crafted a film with supernatural themes set in the real world, that still felt mythological, and still managed to explore themes present within the superhero genre. With Split, M. Night made a return to form, an entertaining movie with horror elements and a powerhouse performance by James McAvoy. With Glass, the sequel to both Unbreakable and Split, M. Night has delivered an early contender for the most disappointing film of the year, and if not the most disappointing, it will surely go down as one of the most boring.

Whereas Unbreakable distinguished itself within the superhero genre while still feeling fresh and exciting, M. Night's attempt at recreating this strength results in a painfully dull movie - one that unfolds in the most plain and unexciting way possible. Most of the movie is set inside an Asylum, where Samuel L. Jackson spends most of his screentime confined to a wheelchair, twitching and staring into the screen, McAvoy repeatedly acts ridiculous in a way that has become less amusing, and more annoying, and Bruce Willis sleeps his way to the next paycheck as he seemingly does with every other movie.

No Caption Provided

There just isn't enough storytelling and dialogue meat to carry the movie, and I can imagine M. Night pitching the movie as "characters sit around in an Asylum acting slightly amusing." The movie attempts to excel as a psychological thriller, examining the psyche of our three main characters: Mr. Glass, David Dunn and Kevin Crumb, with individuals questioning the authenticity of the abilities of these three, but it isn't as compelling as M. Night thinks it is. It doesn't even try to be a horror movie, so it doesn't excel there either, and although the movie attempts to interrogate aspects of the superhero genre, the attempts to do so come across as forced, complete with characters stopping in between action sequences to spout vague comic book references and analogies.

On a logical storytelling scale, the script doesn't fare much better, relying on either coincidences or idiot ball to develop the story. For example, the story is literally set in motion when David Dunn bumps into Kevin, initiating the chain of events. The movie also relies on the idiocy of the institution of which our characters are kept: an institution which isn't shown to house anyone outside of these three characters, yet they can't stop these characters from roaming around this top-secret institution as if they're in a 5 star hotel.

As a sequel to Unbreakable, the interactions between Mr. Glass and David Dunn are disappointingly short in supply. There is also the relationship between David and his grown up son, which is too underdeveloped to care about, and results with a uselessness of. As a sequel to Split: Anya Taylor-Joy's Casey Cooke returns, but her role in the movie is equivalent to fitting a hole in a square peg, as she wanders around the movie with little to no purpose, and a forced (and I mean forced) connection to McAvoy's character.

No Caption Provided

The film is such a mess of characters that are forced into the film to fulfill a role, but without the purposefulness to make them work. There are numerous points in the film where I thought "oh yeah, this character is in the movie. I forgot." It's a shame because outside of Willis, we've got a cast of gifted actors who genuinely care, but aren't lent any of the storytelling material to make it work. Another victim of the script is Sarah Paulson, existing primarily to try and convince our main leads that they don't have powers, an aspect of the movie that obviously falls flat due to the audience's knowledge after watching two films that clearly, obviously show otherwise.

In regards to direction, one might mistake the abundance of colour as meaning good cinematography, but do not be fooled. Though the visual presentation of the film is not one of the most glaring flaws, the action sequences are presented in mind numbingly boring fashion, whether it's through flat angles, boring cinematography, lighting that makes it difficult to tell what is going on in a fight, but more often than not, a combination of all of the above. The action sequences are also complete with moments that place the camera from the perspective of the person fighting Bruce Willis, aiming the camera at his face and highlighting his lack of enthusiasm.

Conclusion

No Caption Provided

But above all, the most cardinal sin Glass commits is being boring. The narrative presentation of the movie is flat and uninventive, there's none of the mystery, intrigue and intimacy of Unbreakable and none of the horror of Split, and most of the movie is characters sitting around, staring, talking, doing slightly amusing things, but without the depth and dialogue to allow this to work, and without the thrilling, remarkable moments to balance it out. It's not an exaggeration to say there isn't a single memorable, exciting moment to be found in Glass, or anyone to root for. Not Willis's vacuum of a personality, not McAvoy's clowning around and not Mr. Glass's trite monologues.

Score: 4/10

Avatar image for modernww2fare
#1 Posted by modernww2fare (7008 posts) - - Show Bio

Damn. I'll skip this movie then

Avatar image for theamazingspidey
#2 Posted by TheAmazingSpidey (17419 posts) - - Show Bio

Damn. I'll skip this movie then

I would highly recommend you do that.

If you haven't watched any of Aquaman, Bumblebee or Into The Spider-Verse, watch those instead. If you've already watched them - rewatch them :)

Avatar image for mutant1230
#3 Posted by Mutant1230 (6303 posts) - - Show Bio

Aw, I was looking forward to this. Kind of like a deconstruction of the MCU's common tropes. Disappointed to hear it's boring.

Avatar image for theamazingspidey
#4 Posted by TheAmazingSpidey (17419 posts) - - Show Bio

Aw, I was looking forward to this. Kind of like a deconstruction of the MCU's common tropes. Disappointed to hear it's boring.

Unbreakable was much better in that department.

Avatar image for mrmonster
#5 Edited by mrmonster (14223 posts) - - Show Bio

I disagree.

My spoiler free thoughts

For the first 2/3 of the movie, I was kind of bored, that I can agree with you on. The trio weren't even the main characters for the first 2/3, everyone around them had a bigger role than they did. But I thought the last third more than made up for it. The acting alone makes this a great movie to watch; James McAvoy and Samuel L. Jackson give some of the best acting they've ever done.

I personally give it 7.5 out of 10. The setup took way too long, but once it delivered, it delivered well.

Now onto my spoiler thoughts

I feel like one thing the movie did wrong was rely too much on coincidence, like how David Dunn just so happens to brush past Kevin Crumb in the industrial district. And I don't see why they made Kevin Crumb's dad die in the train accident, that detail does almost nothing to impact the story other than give Beast a reason to turn on Mr. Glass. I know that the whole point was to show that Mr. Glass can create real-life heroes and villains even on accident, but still, I found it a little farfetched.

But damn, the ending made up for everything. I know M. Night Shaymalan is known for his twists, but this was good even for him. The twist where the psychiatrist was with the secret organization wasn't that great, but the twist that Mr. Glass planned everything from minute 1 really did take me by surprise. And I love how it was so open ended, how we'll never really know what happened to the world after the revelation that superheroes are real.

Overall, I do think it's safe to say that M. Night Shaymalan is back. Sure he may have had a very, very bad phase, but I think that's over now.

Avatar image for theamazingspidey
#6 Edited by TheAmazingSpidey (17419 posts) - - Show Bio

@mrmonster: Thanks for sharing your thoughts. The best part about writing these reviews is to ignite discussions about the movie. IMO, no movie can be saved by it's last act. If the first two acts of a movie are boring, then it's too little and too late to save it. Though I think you hit the nail on the head in regards to the twist of Glass setting the whole thing - that was great - the parking lot fight looked cheap, the fight between David Dunn and Kevin Crumb was badly directed, the deaths were anti-climactic and I didn't appreciate them forcing Anya-Taylor Joy's role.

McAvoy was great though.

Avatar image for mrmonster
#7 Posted by mrmonster (14223 posts) - - Show Bio

@theamazingspidey: I do agree that the fight choreography could've been improved. They were essentially just throwing each other into the sidedoors of the vans, they could've done a lot better

Avatar image for saintwildcard
#8 Posted by SaintWildcard (21649 posts) - - Show Bio

Definitely the weaker of the three, but overall I still enjoyed it. The problems with this movie stems from it's exposition dumping, bad camera work, lackluster action, non stop Comic book talk. Mr. Glass's thing was comic books, and he should be the one spouting off the theories, so it felt odd when all the 3 supporting characters spout comic book real life comparisons. One thing I give the movie props for is until the twists came in, i kept asking why certain things were happening? I was annoyed that we weren't going to get that fight that Glass promised. THe movie does a good job of covering most of it's basis. At the very least we got a good Lex Luthor on screen.

I enjoyed the twists. I liked how the origination reasons are just to stay neutral and avoid heroes escalating. Cus like Glass said, Dunn was only using 1% of his power. But once they reveal it there is still an other 10 minutes of film. so they really focus on it too much. I especially love the second one, but I hate how once again they have to bring in the 3 supporting characters and have them be the distributors as opposed to it just being all Glass and then we see the 3 reacting to it. It was kinda of tacky seeing them hold hands and leak that information. It would have been better had they crammed all that down to like 5 minutes, and when the lady thinks she's done, she gets an email and it's all been leaked.

Avatar image for theamazingspidey
#9 Posted by TheAmazingSpidey (17419 posts) - - Show Bio

Definitely the weaker of the three, but overall I still enjoyed it. The problems with this movie stems from it's exposition dumping, bad camera work, lackluster action, non stop Comic book talk. Mr. Glass's thing was comic books, and he should be the one spouting off the theories, so it felt odd when all the 3 supporting characters spout comic book real life comparisons. One thing I give the movie props for is until the twists came in, i kept asking why certain things were happening? I was annoyed that we weren't going to get that fight that Glass promised. THe movie does a good job of covering most of it's basis. At the very least we got a good Lex Luthor on screen.

I enjoyed the twists. I liked how the origination reasons are just to stay neutral and avoid heroes escalating. Cus like Glass said, Dunn was only using 1% of his power. But once they reveal it there is still an other 10 minutes of film. so they really focus on it too much. I especially love the second one, but I hate how once again they have to bring in the 3 supporting characters and have them be the distributors as opposed to it just being all Glass and then we see the 3 reacting to it. It was kinda of tacky seeing them hold hands and leak that information. It would have been better had they crammed all that down to like 5 minutes, and when the lady thinks she's done, she gets an email and it's all been leaked.

Solid analysis of the movie. I actually thought the "Mr. Glass's plan was actually a suicide mission intended to expose super humans to the public" twist was the best part of the movie, but everything leading up to it was terrible.

However, am I the only one who thought the "there's an illuminati group preventing the world from knowing about super humans" twist fell flat on it's head? Throughout the entire movie, you can already see them preventing super heroics from getting out, so this last tidbit of info doesn't really change much.

Avatar image for saintwildcard
#10 Edited by SaintWildcard (21649 posts) - - Show Bio

@theamazingspidey said:

Solid analysis of the movie. I actually thought the "Mr. Glass's plan was actually a suicide mission intended to expose super humans to the public" twist was the best part of the movie, but everything leading up to it was terrible.

However, am I the only one who thought the "there's an illuminati group preventing the world from knowing about super humans" twist fell flat on it's head? Throughout the entire movie, you can already see them preventing super heroics from getting out, so this last tidbit of info doesn't really change much.

I just wish that reveal was more subtle and quick, then leading into the next one. Keep it simple stupid. I probably enjoyed it more cus I was getting annoyed with her, and her alternate theories as to why they are so powerful. So it was a sigh of relief that she was in on it. The groups reasoning for being was also a pretty cool

Avatar image for mrmonster
#11 Posted by mrmonster (14223 posts) - - Show Bio

Fun fact: M. Night Shaymalan paid the entire $20 million production budget himself. And it looks like that was a worthwhile investment, because the movie made almost 5 times that in just its opening weekend.

Avatar image for the_stegman
#12 Posted by the_stegman (40086 posts) - - Show Bio

Just saw it. I wasn't bored by it, but the interactions that I wanted to see were painfully short. We barely got any Dunn/Glass interactions nor Dunn with his son.

Moderator
Avatar image for the_stegman
#13 Edited by the_stegman (40086 posts) - - Show Bio

@mrmonster said:

@theamazingspidey: I do agree that the fight choreography could've been improved. They were essentially just throwing each other into the sidedoors of the vans, they could've done a lot better

Well, I'm ok with the choreography. These are two people who have no fighting training. They just rely on their strength. They probably would just toss each other around and grapple.

Moderator
Avatar image for theamazingspidey
#14 Posted by TheAmazingSpidey (17419 posts) - - Show Bio

@mrmonster said:

@theamazingspidey: I do agree that the fight choreography could've been improved. They were essentially just throwing each other into the sidedoors of the vans, they could've done a lot better

Well, I'm ok with the choreography. These are two people who have no fighting training. They just rely on their strength. They probably would just toss each other around and grapple.

Trained or not, surely you can come up with something more interesting to watch than two people slamming each other on doors.

Avatar image for the_stegman
#15 Edited by the_stegman (40086 posts) - - Show Bio

@theamazingspidey: It actually reminded me a bit of A Terminator fight, ha. But yeah, they could have done better I agree.

Moderator
Avatar image for kingofwakanda
#16 Edited by KingOfWakanda (2352 posts) - - Show Bio

I saw this yesterday and I have to say, I actually really enjoyed it. This movie does have some issues. The exposition is bad. They don't really have anything for David to do. M. Night has never been gifted with dialogue, so it was a strange choice to have his characters sitting around talking for so much of the movie. I didn't find myself bored by it, I actually really liked spending time with these characters, especially McAvoy and Jackson, but I can see why others might have a problem. I didn't mind the slow burn of the first two acts and I was a fan of the 3rd act and how subversive it was, but I can also see why people would have a problem with that too. I'll get to those thoughts...

I have to say M. Night really got me on this one. The whole 3rd act is a twist, not just the ultimate reveal(s). It was all set up for the big 3rd act superhero showdown spectacular. We, the audience, have been conditioned for this and expect it. He knows we want the big fight scene in the skyscraper with the bad guy foiled at the last second. But we get two guys fighting in a parking lot instead. He doesn't even so much as give us the satisfaction of seeing this play out traditionally (instead we get David Dunn grapple cam/ we see him denting the truck from the inside/ we see only the SWAT teams feet as Dunn pushes them into the container). For someone so gifted at framing a shot, this seems like intentionally not giving the audience what it wants. The whole thing struck me as very meta.

I can definitely see how that would leave people disappointed. I realized as the action was playing out that damn, M. Night's not giving us what we want. We're probably never going to make it to that tower. Things were playing out as they might actually in a real life way. Mr. Glass alludes to this earlier when he says that there are limits to what people with powers can do as everything is grounded in science, but they are still amazing (paraphrasing). To me, the way the action was shot fit the grounded-ness of the universe, for better or worse.

We thought we were getting the MCU style superhero team up but we got an origin story instead. I loved the reveal of this and that Glass had this planned the whole time. The secret society stuff is a great idea that was shoddily executed. That aspect needed more time and thought.

Avatar image for theamazingspidey
#17 Posted by TheAmazingSpidey (17419 posts) - - Show Bio

@kingofwakanda: My favourite part about writing reviews is the thoughtful, high-effort responses like this. I love getting into discussions with people over varying opinions, and because what you wrote here is so good, I hope you don't mind if I explain why I respectfully disagree.

We, the audience, have been conditioned for this and expect it. He knows we want the big fight scene in the skyscraper with the bad guy foiled at the last second.

The whole "final act isn't a large scale, CGI battle where the villain's plans are foiled" subversion didn't work for me. The thing is, multiple other superhero movies have already done it. The Dark Knight ended with a small-scale confrontation in which Joker succeeding in breaking Harvey Dent and turning Batman into an outlaw, Logan's climax unfolded as a small-scale battle in the woods with a couple of kids and some soldiers, with the hero ending up killed, Infinity War ended with the villain winning, Chronicle ended with the protagonist turning into a villain and being killed and Watchmen ended with Ozymandias succeeding in mass genocide.

Sure, most comic book movies end up with the trope of "the big fight scene in which the bad guys plan is foiled", but at this point, that trope has been subverted enough times to no longer feel novel, and even without that in consideration, I still don't think it would've worked. Glass is a sequel to one of the most subversive superhero movies (Unbreakable) and a horror/thriller movie (Split), and the entire 2 thirds of the movie are dialogue-heavy scenes set within an institution. This particular not ending in a big, triumphant action sequence... isn't that unexpected, considering the director, the preceding movies and the nature of the first two acts.

In fact, let's use an MCU film as an example of how to execute this subversion right: Captain America: Civil War. A movie that most people expected would end in "the heroes teaming up to fight the REAL threat" but actually ended in 3 heroes kicking the shit out of each other.

Here's why I feel it worked better there than in Glass:

  1. Virtually every MCU movie before Civil War ended with the good guys foiling the villain's plan. Therefore, the subversion of Civil War had the expectations in place to actually make this subversive, unlike Glass.
  2. The fight choreography in the 3rd act of Civil War, though small scale, is miles ahead of the "banging each other against cars" in Glass. It's genuinely interesting to watch unfold.
  3. The subversion in Civil War feels organic. The movie never sits us down and tells us "okay, so.... this is what's going to happen" and then proceeds to do the exact opposite. It also doesn't have characters standing in the middle of the fight spouting comic book allegories.
  4. A lot more emotionally investing, and with characters we actually recognise and know, instead of random henchman 15.

I loved the reveal of this and that Glass had this planned the whole time.

I still think the idea of the suicide mission is actually great on paper lol. The idea of a character getting defeated, only for it to be revealed to be his plan all along, just sounds compelling to me. Just wish it was better executed personally, but still neat.

Avatar image for kingofwakanda
#18 Posted by KingOfWakanda (2352 posts) - - Show Bio

@theamazingspidey: That's really good analysis. You cited some good examples of handling an ending like this differently. That is a totally valid and fair criticism. Like I said, I totally understand if people are not on board with the ending.

As far as the Dark Knight goes, it did have a 3rd act which included a terrorist plot being undone and a showdown between Batman and Joker. You're right about the Two Face ending, but we did get a high stakes showdown preceding that. Logan was a relatively low stakes affair all the way through, but the ending did subvert expectations, I agree.

Civil War is a great example. That was a lot of buildup with a subversive, relatively low stakes ending, all things considered. Civil War had a couple advantages working in it's favor that Shyamalan did not.

1) 12 movies of buildup, which lead us to believe it was going to end a certain way. Shyamalan has 2 movies and hopefully the audiences' shared expectations of what a comic book movie ending is. Hence why I believe he threw the comic book soliloquies in. Which admittedly could have been handled better or used less frequently. I think it's there for the benefit of any 'non-comic' people, like my wife for instance.

2) Budget. $250 million vs. $20 million. I'm not saying you can't have great action on a low budget, that's simply not true. What you can't have with a budget that large and a whole cinematic universe riding on you are anything less than crisp, well choreographed action sequences.

I really do feel, better or worse, how the action played out on screen was Shyamalan's artistic decision. I think he's perfectly capable of shooting action, he just thought it served his story better to show it this way. Maybe he outthought himself by trying to be too subversive. There is something to be said for giving the people what they want. A little fan service never hurt anyone and I for one, love a good fight. I think it really supports the idea Elijah knew how the fight was going to play out to a T. (It would be contained to the parking lot in view of the cameras, they'd get to do a couple superhuman things and then they'd all die) It would have been nice, I do admit, but I'm not bothered by it. These movies were always more character studies.

All that being said, I totally get why you disagree and that's cool. It's a flawed film to be sure. I just liked having my expectations messed with a little.

I also really love a good master plan. Do you think Elijah knew about the whole secret society thing or was it always just his plan to expose super heroes to the wider world and that's it? I get the feeling he knew, based on what the doctor told him.

Avatar image for super_ninja
#19 Posted by Super_ninja (3525 posts) - - Show Bio

i like it. my only problem was there were too many flashbacks and David Dunn should have lived.

Avatar image for totallynotjucas
#20 Edited by TotallyNotJucas (533 posts) - - Show Bio

During the flashback of the Illuminati woman at the restaurant, I thought that'd be the building that Elijah burned down before Unbreakable, she was a ghost all along, and this all tied into The Sixth Sense.

Kinda disappointed.

Avatar image for totallynotjucas
#21 Posted by TotallyNotJucas (533 posts) - - Show Bio

Also, disagree on McAvoy, he was amazing. Sad we won't see more of him as Kevin.

Avatar image for jgames
#22 Edited by Jgames (7990 posts) - - Show Bio

Just saw the movie and I personally enjoy it. I feel like it will be in the same league as Unbreakable, as a movie that is initially dissapointing, but overs years for some reason people said it was great and ahead of uts time. Also the twist remind me of what most people said would happen if mutant were real.

Granted yes the security in this movie is dumb.

Not as good as Unbreakable, but I enjoy it a bit more thab Split.

Avatar image for renny
#23 Posted by Renny (3176 posts) - - Show Bio

I liked this movie a lot. I don't agree with most of the contrarians. I'd go see it again. McAvoy and Samuel L. Jackson were excellent. McAvoy should at least be nominated for some hardware.