Of all the hobbies I have, it’s safe to say that reading comic books is the most recent one. I’ve been reading them for just over six months now, and I’m already captivated by the amazing works of many authors, from Brubaker to Miller, from Snyder to Morrison. There’s lots of magnificent stories to be read, indeed. Last night, I rewatched Unbreakable and was surprised with the sheer amount of references to superheroes that can be found throughout its runtime, as the story unfolds closely resembling some of the most usual tropes in comics. I enjoyed the film so much that I decided to go watch Glass, even if I thoroughly disliked Split. Did its writer and director M. Night Shyamalan manage to close the trilogy taking the best of the previous films and build an interesting universe with lots of connected stories? Let’s find out.
When vigilante David Dunn, Kevin (together with his other 23 personalities) and Elijah Price are sent to a psychiatric hospital, their superhuman abilities will be questioned in order to find a plausible mental condition that will explain the sense of greatness the three of them have. However, as they interact with each other, they will soon notice that there’s more to their existence than meets the eye.
Glass it’s a terrible film. Let’s get that out of the way. It’s poorly written, shot, edited, scored, directed… Almost every aspect in this movie is bad.
Shyamalan is in charge of the whole thing, and he miserably fails to deliver a compelling experience. His work as a director is awful, with abhorrent camera work all the way through. Close-up face shots take up most of the runtime, some of them being subjective POV shots that are obnoxious and amateur-looking at best. Cinematography is pretty dull too, which is particularly obvious when excerpts from Unbreakable are shown, as the difference in visual quality is jarring. Use of colour is also handled clumsily, as the visual personality the 2000 prequel had has been removed entirely, and tonalities have been managed with no subtlety at all, with lots of obvious choices a five-year-old would have made.
The story being told has potential. The premise is interesting and a lot of cool stuff could’ve been done with it. Having characters make a come-back is compelling on its own, as it lets the director build the universe without having to tell the origin stories of everyone, trusting viewers to watch the previous flicks to get the whole image. Nevertheless, the story is a myriad of twists and turns that not only fail to be surprising, but also don’t make much sense at all. Many decisions are incomprehensible, from underage girls getting to interview their abductors (Stockholm syndrome?), to basically writing nothing for David Dunn and having him just hang around for two hours of runtime.
Script is a mess too. The whole runtime feels like a first act, with no important plot points to keep the story going. It seems that Shyamalan knew the premise and conclusion of the film and write pages of filler in order to reach a reasonable runtime, so everything feels like a set-up for a series of events that never arrives. Most scenes don’t have a clear beginning and end, so most of the movie seems to be a single sequence in which nothing meaningful happens. Come on, even the lines are bad! Many are written so lazily that are plot explanations told to characters that should not care about them, but the writer couldn’t come up with better ideas to tell the audience what is going on. Plus, the comic-book references I mentioned about Unbreakable? Well, those are back, but they’re way too over the top and cringe-worthy this time around.
The editing doesn’t help either, with poor scene-to-scene editing that doesn’t manage to keep the flow going, even if the cuts themselves aren’t too bad. A compelling score could’ve been composed to be reminiscent of Unbreakable, but what we get is more evocative of Split and its standard, unimaginative score for a cheap horror flick.
Does Glass have anything that’s good, you ask? Well yes, it has James McAvoy. He reprises his role as Kevin, who is also known as The Horde due to the bunch of personalities that live within himself. As in Split, his performance is the most compelling part of the whole film, maybe even more so this time, as not only do we get an amazing performance of each one of the personalities, but also incredibly acted transitions between them. Samuel L Jackson does a nice job as Elijah too, at least whenever the script gives him decent material to work with. Bruce Willis, on the other hand, stopped acting over a decade ago, so don’t expect anything good from him this time around either. It hurts so much to see what he has become, as the flashbacks, taken directly from Unbreakable, show he used to be a good actor back then. In Glass, there’s a scene in which he is obviously trying not to laugh. Sigh.
With a $20 million budget, it may seem that Shyamalan had resources to make scenes as complex as he wanted. However, apparently most of that money went to pay Willis and Jackson’s salaries, so the end result looks and feels terribly cheap. This could’ve not been an issue, as there are lots of low-budget movies that are amazing, of course, but many times throughout the screenplay, big set-pieces are hinted, set-pieces that do not happen at all in the end. Some special effects look awful too, which could be a direct consequence of this lack of budget, too.
It’s just terrible. Awful, awful, awful. Not only is it a bad film, but a way to make the previous titles in this trilogy worse. Shyamalan has crafted a film that doesn’t even feel like one, it’s a failure on so many levels that it’s almost unbelievable that it has been made in the first place. It seems to be rushed in every step of the process, with a script that I’d bet hasn’t been proof-read, shots that really needed another take and lots of plot-holes and pacing issues that needed a fix. Absolutely unbearable, Glass is some of the worst film-making I’ve watched in months. 2/10