Glass Shatters Expectations
By Noah Lenzi and Henry Greenthal
There might not be another movie that flips itself on its head with an ending quite like Glass does. This latest installment from M. Night Shyamalan is the final entry in his superhero trilogy that began with Unbreakable back in 2000. So does Glass offer a satisfying conclusion nineteen years in the making? Well… let’s start with the positives.
The movie starts off and moves through the second act with incredible strength, quickly catching audiences up with what the characters have been doing since Unbreakable and Split with surprising humor and gritty and brutal superhero action that, despite being fairly minimal, feels well grounded in reality and is greatly effective. The film’s pacing and editing do wonders in order to keep your attention amidst a superhero film that’s pretty short on action. In the place of action scenes, that are considered mainstays of the genre, are scenes filled to the brim with uneasiness, anxiety, and suspense, some likely to have you tense up nervously in your seat.
The musical score by West Dylan Thordson beautifully elevates every feeling of intensity and triumph, overlaying much of it with a healthy layer of anticipation. The rest of the sound design is no slouch either, bringing these superheroes into the world we inhabit.
James McAvoy owns this movie as Kevin yet again. Despite not being the main antagonist nor the main protagonist, McAvoy brings as much expert energy and versatility that he brought to Split and then some, bouncing back and forth between drastically different personalities with subtle facial expressions and easily distinguishable voices. Shyamalan continues his ability to write a complex character that could easily be demonized but instead uses him as the main device for audience empathy. Kevin is a regular guy trapped in a well-constructed fictionalized version of a real disorder. We again see that his split personalities are his strength against the beast and the manipulation of others is his weakness.
Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Willis both make respectival reprisals to their roles from Unbreakable as Mr. Glass and David Dunn. Even with their divided screentime Shyamalan is able to justify having Jackson be the title character. The interaction among all three of the main characters doesn’t disappoint and carries a unique dynamic that keeps the film moving at a swift pace.
Truly, the first hour and a half is easily the best work Shyamalan has done. As for the last thirty minutes of the film… they are probably on par with The Happening and Lady in the Water. Without giving anything away, the film takes a drastic turn from its grounded take on superheroes and instead becomes a goofy, laughable attempt at being metaphoric. The excellent cinematography is suddenly and noticeably absent. Characters stand in awkward areas of the frame, and even the sound changes. The performances also become much cheesier. Worst of all is the twists. The twists, namely the last one, basically tarnish the great movie that is hiding in plain sight during the first two acts. It’s not even a small disappointment, it hits hard and destroys the experience. To sum up the third act more simply, it feels like someone else made it.
Glass had the opportunity to be one of the best films M. Night Shyamalan has ever made but in a span of minutes it is destroyed. All of its healthy messages are turned on their faces in favor of an awful, goofy alternative that will leave the audience frustrated. In the end Glass feels empty despite all of it valiant efforts in the beginning; yet the amount of discussion it can spur may make it worth a watch.
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