Glass Review

At last, M. Night Shyamalan’s dramatic conclusion to his superhero trilogy, Glass, has arrived. And while I was dissatisfied with Split, I had good faith that Glass would turn out significantly better.

Glass brings superhero David Dunn (known as The Overseer and played by Bruce Willis) to a final confrontation with the villains Kevin Crumb (The Beast played by James McAvoy) and Elijah Price (Mr. Glass played by Sam Jackson). All three are locked inside a mental hospital run by psychiatrist Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson), who specializes in those with delusions of grandeur. Staple is determined to show these men that their powers aren’t all that special, but a nefarious plot by Mr. Glass awaits just below the surface, ready to show the world his true potential.

Glass first comes out of the gate swingin’, continuing this story in an interesting direction that instantly hooked me. We get some strong storytelling elements mixed with some suspenseful scenes that really stood out as remarkable.

Unfortunately, things take a turn for the worst very quickly.

For about an hour Glass just treads water, bringing the plot and characters to a complete standstill. It’s when our leads arrive to the mental hospital, where the film becomes fixated on what I’d argue is the overarching message of Glass, “Are these guys really superheroes, or is it all in their heads?” The thing is, we already know these characters are extraordinary because we’ve already seen Split and Unbreakable, therefore we know exactly how this will play out. But it doesn’t matter anyways, because the resolve to this theme is non-existent. The great “aha” moment is summed up in Bruce Willis kicking down a door. What a waste of valuable screen time.

Ultimately Glass displays some of the most fundamental flaws with Shyamalan’s filmmaking style and camerawork. The movie is plagued with awkward close-ups, scenes that go nowhere, and pretentiously boring camera angles that make Glass visually difficult to watch. Some of the upside-down shots and camera pans are so bizarre and unnecessary that some will call it artistically bold, but I call it bologna.

The acting often came off as wooden and emotionless from majority of the cast, Anya Taylor-Joy and Spencer Treat Clark were particularly unpleasant. James McAvoy and Sam Jackson stood out as the only noteworthy performances, but maybe they were a little too convincing. As you’ll recall from Split, McAvoy’s character was often goofy and hard to take seriously because of his multiple personalities. This often clashes with the tone of the film, which attempts to take the subject matter gravely serious. Dramatic scenes are frequently undercut by McAvoy acting like a nine-year-old and hacking up a lung, completely throwing the tone of the film off. Am I supposed to be laughing? Scared? Emotional? Shyamalan sure doesn’t know.

The climax between The Overseer and the Beast/Mr. Glass, what all this was supposedly building up to, was dead on arrival. There’s no satisfying battle or showdown, and any real action is marred by the terrible camerawork. Everybody kind of just stands around with their hands in their pockets, and again nothing of worth is accomplished.

And then, there’s the twist. A classic Shyamalan twist ending that’s bound to frustrate those who enjoyed the film up until that point. But for those of us who were already disappointed and bored out of our minds, the twist was merely the last straw. A plot move that irreparably damaged any worthwhile story elements the audience could take away.

I don’t really know what Glass was trying to accomplish, and I don’t really know if it succeeded in this or not. What I do know is just how slow, underwhelming, and anticlimactic it all was. Anyone who says this is Shyamalan’s return to form is misleading you. I can’t stress it enough, Shyamalan has talent, and his greatest works (Unbreakable and The Sixth Sense) are no accident. To my disappointment, Glass was one his accidents. A movie that set out to intrigue and excite the audience but ended up having the opposite effect.

The Verdict: D

-Zachary Flint

Split Review

Over the years I have become increasingly skeptical of the work of M. Night Shyamalan. I am a huge fan of his superhero film Unbreakable, but over time his style has become very predictable and bland. Films like The Happening, The Last Airbender, and After Earth all showcase his poor directing. Yet, I remained as optimistic as possible for his newest film, Split.

Split is about a group of girls (played by Anya Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley, and Haley Lu Richardson) who are kidnapped by a man named Kevin (James McAvoy) suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder. People with DID can have many different personalities inside of them, each completely separate from one another. It is now up to the girls to  use Kevin’s Identity Disorder against him and escape before it is too late.

So to put it simply, I was very disappointed with Split. I went into the theater thinking it would be something a little better than it was. I think the idea of someone with multiple personalities kidnapping some people is a neat concept. With a proper story and characters, a lot could be done with this. However the filmmakers just weren’t able to put together a great product.

I think it was apparent to me by about fifteen minutes in that Split  wasn’t going to be good. It started showing many warning signs of a bad Shyamalan movie; including features like boring camera angles, dull acting, and some very awkward dialogue.

The camera work, like in a lot of Shyamalan films, is very dull and boring. Shyamalan will have a still camera point front and center at the actors while they deliver there lines, with very little deviation from this. Every so often he shoots these extreme close ups that feel like their straight out of Wayne’s World. They make little sense and feel out of place.

Another issue with this film is that it’s extremely funny. Some people may argue that Shyamalan intentionally wrote the script to include funny dialogue and humorous scenes involving Kevin’s different personalities. How could somebody accidentally write something so humorous, you may ask? Well, this is the man who wrote The Happening, so he can do about anything.

The biggest problem with Split being humorous is that it directly conflicts with the other tone the filmmakers are trying to set. They wanted this to be genuinely creepy and eerie for the viewer, yet they write hilarious dialogue (whether intentional or not) that kills the mood. Never was I scared while watching this film, because every few minutes somebody would say something stupid or funny that would throw the mood off. James McAvoy can go from delivering a truly spine-tingling line to saying something exceedingly goofy and out of place.

I would say the saving grace of Split would be the performance of James McAvoy. For having to portray over a dozen different personalities in a single film, he does quite nicely. His character was always interesting while on screen, and he felt pretty unpredictable at all times. His performance was both memorable and noteworthy.

The visuals are okay in Split too. I think some of the sets were pretty well designed and interesting. The location for the film fit nicely with the tone the filmmakers wanted to establish.

The film unfortunately ends pretty anticlimactically. Any intensity the film established ended about fifteen minutes before the climax actually ended. They just kept going and going, not really knowing where to stop. By this point people in the audience were antsy for the film to end. I can’t say I blame them.

Now I won’t ruin it, but there is this little twist at the end that “ties a few things up” so to speak. I thought this was dumb, unnecessary, and added nothing to the plot (or anything). Once you see it, you’ll know exactly what I am taking about, and it’s a real doozy.

I am completely baffled that Split managed to become “Certified Fresh” by the film critic aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Perhaps film critics were trying too hard to build Shyamalan up as a great filmmaker again. I’m sad that I didn’t like this movie as much as others, and I wish I could say better things about it. However I feel the camera work is dull and bland, the tone an utter mess, and the film overall not scary or thrilling, just bland.

Overall, I’d have to recommend that other people go ahead and give Split a watch. Maybe there is something here that I just missed or didn’t understand, so go and make your own decision on whether Split is good. As for me, I think my mind is made up.

The Verdict: C-

-Zachary Flint