Save for spectacular performances by James McAvoy, Samuel L. Jackson, and Bruce Willis, Glass remains a banal and wearying film.
In an attempt to present a different brand of superhero-based film, Director M. Night Shyamalan has wound up creating a humdrum of a film. Glass, which is the title of the film and the name of one of the lead characters reprised by Samuel L. Jackson, builds on the foundation set by Unbreakable and Split. As a matter of fact, this movie does not even need a prerequisite of having watched both films. It ends up recounting almost all the events of both the previous films and takes an awful amount of time to reach the final “showdown”.
There is a riveting start to this film as we instantly see the merger of Split and Unbreakable happening. Kevin (James McAvoy) has kidnapped girls (which reminds us of the opening scene in Split) but this time we see David (Bruce Willis) rescuing the girls. This sets off a fight between The Beast, most dangerous personality among Kevin’s multiple personalities, and The Overseer, David’s secretive role of finding and punishing the bad people which he discovered towards the end of Unbreakable. Like every superhero film, The Beast and The Overseer does have a weakness for bright lights and water respectively which is used by policemen to capture them and take them to the mental institution where Elijah or the Glass (Samuel L. Jackson) is being treated. From here on, as Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson is fantastic in this role) proceeds her work of “taking care of individuals who think they are superheroes”, the films turns absolutely trite. A hackneyed phase of references to Split and Unbreakable ensues as we hanker for something new to happen.
The film did have appreciable things that made up for underwhelming storytelling. The brilliant camera work, that is synonymous with Shyamalan’s films, enhanced the power of some of the scenes on the screen. When an attendee is inside Kevin’s room and is frightened by Kevin changing his personality every few seconds, the camera swings almost at a 180-degree angle to show the terrified face of attendee on the left and the changing personalities of Kevin on the right. Also, when Kevin, David and Elijah are sitting on a chair in a big hall and are being “dissected” by Dr. Ellie, the close-up shot of camera focussing on their faces shows the expression on their face magnificently. Sometimes, a tense environment is created where we get a feeling that something terrifying might happen (Elijah is sitting in his wheelchair outside his room and the attendees have no idea how the door was opened. Or, the scene where Dr. Ellie has come to visit Kevin in his room and different personalities of Kevin comes out randomly. It looks serious as if something dangerous might happen but Dr. Ellie just smiles as there are ‘hypnosis lights’ in the room to keep him under control). West Dylan Thordson’s background score perfectly aligned with the film’s tense mood. The best of all is the surprise element that Shyamalan brings out through Elijah but that could not save the uninteresting final “showdown”. Save for spectacular performances by James McAvoy, Samuel L. Jackson, and Bruce Willis, Glass remains a banal and wearying film.
Split remains a jading watch in spite of being immersing momentarily.
M. Night Shyamalan’s Split starts off rivetingly. The forlorn state of Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy) is illuminated as we see her in the midst of girls celebrating in a party. Two of her classmates and their father offer a ride in their car. When the girls are sitting inside the car, a loud thud can be heard behind their car and, in the next moment, Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy) gets inside the car and occupies the driver’s seat (Kevin has knocked the Casey’s classmates’ father down). Kevin kidnaps the three girls and shuts them inside a room. Shyamalan’s brilliance lies in making us think of all sorts of possibilities in regards to the intention behind the kidnapping and the consequence. So, the movie has a gripping premise but as it slowly starts uncloaking the mystery, the dullness creeps in.
Kevin is reeling under a mental disorder called dissociative identity disorder that has created multiple personalities inside him (Hence, the title Split). The film puts the focus on the most dangerous and mysterious personality inside Kevin – The Beast – and how this potent personality winds up taking the “light” (taking control of Kevin).
Whether as a dominant personality (Dennis), or as a small kid (Hedwig), or even as a feminine character (Patricia), James McAvoy has pulled off a stunning display of performance to depict all those different personalities in a distinct way as possible. The drudgery sets in when the split personality of Kevin has been revealed and the focus shifts to The Beast. In the process of creating a terrifying image of The Beast, a monotony is felt (For instance, Kevin’s conversations with Dr. Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley), a psychologist, about his condition and the presence of this so-called threatening personality; or Hedwig’s description of this lordly personality to Casey). It, at times, feels intriguing (like, for instance, when Casey’s classmate tries to run away through an opening on the ceiling of the room and Kevin ends up catching her) but the repetitiveness and the surfeit of instances that intends to build a menacing picture of The Beast makes up for a banal output.
Casey’s agonising past, where she was sexually abused by her uncle, is nicely depicted and it does make you angry seeing her uncle luring a young and innocent Casey to come to him from behind the shrubs.
You are left with mixed feelings when The Beast finally takes the “light” towards the end. It does look formidable and fearsome. But as you have sat through a stodgy narrative and are yearning for its speedy finish, it is not exactly astonishing to witness this ultimate personality. Split remains a jading watch in spite of being immersing momentarily.
Unbreakable exhibits intriguing storytelling of humans with unique abilities that turn repetitious along the way.
Unbreakable is a whiff of fresh air. Director M. Night Shyamalan has created an incredible story involving humans-with-superpowers that offers an alternative to the likes of Marvel or DC. As a matter of fact, there are not even those top-notch VFX shots that are usually associated with superhero-based films.
It takes an ample amount of time to build the story. There is no rush whatsoever throughout. This motion picture involves David (Bruce Willis) who confronts strange qualities in him without ever taking a serious effort to explore them further and is finally able to realise his uniqueness after consistent persuasion of Elijah (Samuel L. Jackson).
The brilliant camera work of the film was noticeable. Simple interaction between David and a co-passenger in train arrests you. David is sitting near the window and the co-passenger next to him. The camera is placed at the seats that are in front of them and moves from the left seat to the right one to show their faces. A glum-looking Young Elijah, who is born with a medical condition where his bones are prone to fracture, is sitting in front of the television with a plaster cast in one hand and his mother speaks to him encouraging him to go out. The camera does the trick again as it amplifies the impact of the scene. It focuses on the television screen to show the images of Young Elijah and his mother. Elijah unwraps the gift given by his mother and finds out that it is a comic book. The book is lying upside down on his lap. As he slowly rotates the book, the camera focuses on the book and swivels around to do a circular motion.
As the movie tries to establish the powers of David, we feel intrigued. A Doctor informs David that he was the lone survivor of the train accident and did not even have a minor injury. David comes out of the ward to meet his wife Audrey (Robin Wright) and son (Spencer Treat Clark) who were waiting for him as the families and friends of deceased people stare at him with a shock. In another instance, he stands in the middle of a moving crowd and when people bump into him or brush past him, he senses something when a person has committed a wrong deed. But the movie takes a long time to build the character of David and his abilities that it gets repetitive after a while so much so that seeing his abilities does not amaze you.
The mature take on the comic book was very impressive. Elijah shows a sketch of superhero fighting a villain to a visitor in his art gallery and describes it as “realistic depiction of figures” and a “vintage”.
The relationship between David and Audrey remained uninteresting and never really seemed to be of any significance. It hardly moves us seeing their marital life in disarray.
Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson should be offered thunderous claps for the amazing portrayal of David and Elijah respectively. Unbreakable exhibits intriguing storytelling of humans with unique abilities that turn repetitious along the way.