I voiced an unpopular opinion about Split, saying that it wasn’t the glorious return of form for Shyamalan in his directing, but he was getting there. I was still debating whether linking Split to his 2000 film Unbreakable was a good idea before I saw Glass and I was hoping that I would get that answer. What I was bemused to discover is this film gave me two answers, and it all depends which answer holds more strength whether you see Glass as a sequel to Unbreakable or Split. One the one hand, the film still offers the same unique look at superheroes and superpowers manifesting in the real world. Yet on the other, it’s less of a superhero film and more of a psychological analysis film like Split. This class of perspectives I feel is going to make this film a widely debated film.
Let’s first look at the clues for another potential return to form for M. Night Shyamalan, when you look back at his skill as a director it is all over the place, you have great performances like The Sixth Sense and then you have legendarily bad performances in The Happening. Thankfully, Glass leans towards the good side, especially from James McAvoy. I’m going to refer James McAvoy’s character as both “Kevin” and “The Horde” for obvious reasons if you’ve seen Split. Just like Split, he continues an inspiring performance where he can skillfully snap from one personality to another in an instant. We get two identical scenes like this with reoccurring as well as new personalities. I was convinced of McAvoy’s versatility before Glass but if any doubters remain, go and see him in this film, you will be convinced.
Going into more depth on the superhero element of Glass, there is no denying that this is an interesting take on the existence of superheroes. Glass offers a story that at its core is a deep psychological exploration into these three people, David (Bruce Willis), Mr Glass (Samuel L Jackson) and Kevin as previously mentioned who are under the delusion that they possess superpowers. If you’re the kind of person that loves dissecting character’s in film, you’ll find the institution scenes enjoyable, though they take up a lot of the film’s run time it’s a great look at the human psyche.
There is a lot of interesting lighting and use of colour that makes Glass a great looking film. it makes characters like Mr Glass even more imposing in his silence. You also see great examples of this in the films surprising amount of action scenes. Seeing Kevin manifest from different members of The Horde into The Beast, watching him climb walls and sprint on all fours is captured to the highest quality.
For all the things Glass has to offer, each positive comes with a heavy negative with the feeling of a double-edged sword. For all the great psychological analysis, in those moments the film grinds to a halt. Having come off the back of an intense fight between David and The Horde, we have to limit our anticipation to how fast the film will progress, which is very difficult to find midway through the film.
As much as this film is captured wonderfully, the film uses a lot of POV shots, often extreme close-ups that cheapen the cinematography. I couldn’t see the reason or the advantages of looking through a character’s eyes during action or intense scenes. You could argue that these shots are used to place the audience in the characters shoes, which wouldn’t be a bad idea considering the psychoanalysis nature of Glass, but it really is a matter of perspective if these shots worked for you. For me, they’re used too much and don’t bring anything to the table.
As this point, if you’re a huge Shyamalan fan, you know already that there will be a twist to Glass, and whilst I won’t reveal anything in this review what I will say is that the twist works, but it is a little underwhelming. Although it seems like a cool idea at the time, looking back I was thinking to myself there were lots of other ways you could have spun the story. It feels like Shyamalan throughout the film had a good, solid idea of which direction Glass was going towards, but once new ideas came, he implemented them and before you know it that straight line soon had a lot of bends. In effect, the journey towards the conclusion took longer than expected.
I get that Shyamalan has been a big influence for filmmakers and I’m sure there will be a point where he pulls it out of the bag in an unexpected way. However, if Glass has proven anything, it’s that he needs to battle his own creative thinking. Every good idea in Glass also has a silly fatal flaw and for all the entertainment you can get from this film, it is one giant double-edged sword which the pain you feel from it depends on you seeing this either as a sequel to Unbreakable or Split.
Final Result: 5/10 – Average
Have you seen Glass? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
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