I’m happy to report that Glassis indeed better than Replicas.
I realise this was basically a given, considering even M. Night’s worst films are nothing compared to that lazy, cheap piece of shit, but hey! You never know, right?
Now, a lot of people have been disappointed in this film and didn’t think it was so great. I’m going to disagree with them. Only a little!
You see, I haven’t actually seen Unbreakableyet. I was going to watch it before seeing the movie, but Pinkie was so impatient to see something good in theatres that I had to forego that plan. Instead, Pinkie filled me in on the plot, and Glassfilled me in on anything Pinkie didn’t tell me.
I think I liked this movie becauseI haven’t experienced the original film. I can definitely see how this would be a disappointing sequel to one of M. Night Shyamalan’s best films. However, as a sequel to Split, a film I really enjoyed, I found myself really enjoying and getting invested into the plot of this film.
I’m always happy to see James McAvoy in anything, especially if he’s going to be shirtless for most of it (I know he plays a creepy serial killer, but that kind of thing just doesn’t faze a mad scientist like myself), and it’s nice to know Bruce Willis can still act – after Die Hard 5: The One That Never Happened, I was a little worried about him – and of course, Samuel L. Jackson was going to turn out a hell of a performance no matter what. I didn’t imagine M. Night could do anything to make me hate this movie, but I certainly didn’t expect that he’d make me like it.
Without further ado, let’s get on with it, shall we?
- Is it realistic? Does it work? Does it flow? Is it consistent to the character speaking? Does it serve a purpose beyond just exposition?
- Is there depth? If not, is there at least some level of intrigue?
- Does it make sense? Is it easy to follow the sequence of events? If there is no narrative, does the game’s basic sequence make sense?
- If there’s a point, is it made and is it made well?
- Is the music something I’d want to hear again?
- Does it suit the work? Enhance the experience? Or is it inappropriate and distracting?
- Does the actor succeed in making the character feel like a person?
- Does the actor succeed in making the character sympathetic and likeable? Or does the character succeed in making you hate them?
- Does the overall performance achieve what was intended?
- Special effects
- Are they well done? Do they fit the movie? Do they distract from the film?
- Does it help to enhance the storytelling? Is it interesting to look at? Does it make you experience the events instead of just watching them?
- Do they fit the film? Do they look good? Do the costumes suit the characters wearing them?
- Set design
- Do the sets fit the film? If it’s a period piece, are they accurate? Are they well-balanced and pleasing to look at?
With these things in mind, let’s get on to the review!
Also, there will be SPOILERS ahead. You have been warned.
I won’t waste too much time here, since nothing really happens in this movie.
Basically, The Horde has been on the run since the end ofSplit, and David has been hunting him down with the help of his son, Joseph, who acts as his own personal Oracle.
Surprisingly, it doesn’t take the father/son team long to track down the serial killer, and David rescues the cheerleaders The Horde had recently captured. The Beast, summoned by Hedwig, then shows up to try and claim his prize, but David helps to let the girls escape, knocking the Beast out a window.
Each surprised to meet someone strong like them, the men prepare to brawl when they’re captured by Dr. Ellie Staple, a clinical psychologist who believes both men to be severely mentally ill.
The rest of the film centres around Ellie’s psychiatric treatment for David, the Horde/Kevin, and Mr. Glass himself, Elijah Price, who has been in psychiatric care since the end of Unbreakable,I guess. Basically, Ellie is there to convince these men and the people in their lives that there was nothing supernatural about any of them – they are all incredible, but they’re nothing “special” or “heroic” or “magical”.
Alas, these treatments, while beginning to work on David and The Horde, do not affect Elijah or his beliefs. He bides his time, playing catatonic and plotting the escape of a lifetime.
He manages to get The Horde on his side and makes friends with the Beast, while proclaiming to go public with the fight of the ages, showing off the Beast and David’s powers in front of the world. Since there’s a big tower in the city that’s opening, Elijah suggests there as the location, and he springs the escape, setting the Beast loose on innocent orderlies in order to goad David out of his cell.
The three face off in front of the hospital, we discover that Elijah causing the train accident that “made” David also indirectly “made” The Horde and the Beast because Kevin’s father, who was going to help Kevin get away from his abusive mother, died in the crash. Upon learning this, the Beast crushes Elijah’s chest, then goes to drown David.
Casey, the girl who escaped from The Horde in Split, manages to push the Beast away and pull Kevin into the light through the power of love and hugs. Unfortunately, this happy moment is cut painfully short as a sniper kills Kevin.
Things move quickly from there as a hit squad dressed like cops come in, all with the same black clover tattoo on their wrists, and kill David by drowning him in a puddle. Before he died, Ellie tries to ask if she had nearly fooled him. Ellie then goes to see Elijah and tells him that he was right and can now rest in peace.
From there, we see each of the three protagonists’ loved ones, Mrs. Price, Casey, and Joseph, all mourn over the loss of the people they cared for.
We then see Ellie address this creepy audience of secret society members, explaining why she does what she does and why they must keep supers a secret. We then cut to her trolling a comic book store, where some passionate geeks are arguing about the villain’s plan in whatever they’re reading. One of the geeks points out that there’s always a “real” plan, and Ellie panics, going to check to make sure the security footage around the hospital was all destroyed (as the standoff between David and the Beast with plenty of proof of supernatural stuff was all caught on camera).
While the hard-copies were indeed destroyed, Elijah had set up the cameras to livestream the events. Clips were sent to his mother, Casey and Joseph, who we presume sent the footage out onto the internet. The film ends with the three of them drinking coffees in a train station as they watch the world discover the truth about superhumans.
I quite liked it. As a sequel to Split, I thought it was remarkably well done. Again, I understand why it would be a disappointing sequel to Unbreakable– David Dunn is barely in the film, and a lot of the time is spent with him being slowly convinced that he isn’t special. The real action and drama lies with our titular character, Mr. Glass, as well as The Horde as they all lose faith and begin to fight amongst themselves over whether or not the Beast is even worth the effort anymore, and if killing all those girls was really worth it.
There are problems with the film. It’s pretty simplistic, it’s hardly ground-breaking, and some scenes drag on for too long. However, considering how absolutely shite M. Night’s movies can be, I’m glad to see that his signature crap isn’t really in the movie.
Oh, you can still tell it’s a Shyamalan flick – I mean, we get several twists, after all! – and he does overuse his trademark “Get the actor to stare RIGHT INTO YOUR SOUL” thing, but I would almost argue it works here because it’s such an intimate film. It’s a movie trying to convince you that two films about the supernatural were actually mundane and easily explained with science and logic. The fact that Ellie Staple is constantly shot in this unnatural way, with her glaring into you, really helps to show what kind of pressure the guys are under. It’s like she’s asking you whether or not you believe. I thought that was kind of cool.
There were some neat camera tricks used, there was an incredible amount of colour theory used, and the story itself was written well enough, constantly calling back to previous scenes to explain the mystery and twists as well as setting up the twists in believable and satisfying ways (you don’t get any of this DEVIL nonsense) and there are also quite a few instances of parallels being used in order to convey mood and theme.
Basically, I do not think this film was brilliant but I do think aspects of it were.
It’s a pretty simple plot, and I’m sure on repeat viewings it will drag more and feel every bit of the two hour run time. However, like any film that sets up a decent mystery, I enjoyed my first experience. I’ll admit, Ellie almost had me convinced that David and Kevin weren’t that special.
I mean, it’s pretty clear if you’ve seen all the movies that there’s no way it could be a mental illness, and some of the explanations Ellie gives to try and dissuade the men from their beliefs were pretty flaky (like telling the Horde that the Beast isn’t all that strong because she was able to bend the old pipes under the zoo with a crowbar…like, lady, if you needed a CROWBAR and LEVERAGE to bend the pipes A LITTLE BIT and this guy bent them A LOT by HAND, then your argument is invalid…poor use of scientific method!). However, I feel like this was all done intentionally.
There was a lot about the way the character was written and how Ellie spoke that made it clear she was not a goodand caring psychiatrist. For one, she calls Casey a victim, which I know is NOT something a good counsellor or shrink calls someone who’s been through trauma. The term I’ve heard used is “survivor”, as it helps those recovering from trauma regain their autonomy and can escape from the helpless mindset. Or, at least, that’s how it was explained to me. That one piece of dialogue told me all I needed to know about this character and that something wasn’t right about her.
That on top of the clearly manipulative behaviour she exhibits with Joseph, who tries to free his dad from the psych ward, and her ability to get personal information on people… it just feelssuper-villain-y. That paired with her weak explanations for why they all need to be “cured” of their delusions or else face jail time, but if they accept they’re crazy then they’re free to leave the insane asylum? Like, uh…no? They’d still be facing incarceration…
Some hints were subtler than others, but I thought the way her character was written set her up as a good antagonist for our boys.
Pinkie complained that the twists were easy to see coming, and I suppose that’s true in hindsight. Part of his problem is that he goes out of his way to try and predict plot points in films before they happen, so I can’t really fairly use him as a barometer for how most people view movies. I can say that, for myself, I thought the twists were foreshadowed well enough that I wasn’t surprisednecessarily when the twists were revealed, but I did still get that feeling of, “Aha! So that’swhat you were up to!”.
My only real complaint about the film was that it was a little long. I realize the slow pace was intentional, and I had no problem with a more quiet, cerebral (for lack of a better term) superhero movie, but the ending had issues. There were about three times where the movie could have ended and I would have been satisfied.
The first would have been ending it when our supers died. That would have been horribly bleak and sad, but it would have been a hell of an ending. It would have been memorable and shocking.
The second would be when Ellie overhears the geeks talk about how the mastermind always has a “real” plan. You see the panic in her face and it slow zooms towards her as she begins to realize that she may not have accounted for everything, and I honestly thought the film would end there. It would have gotten the final twist across and would have left audiences speculating what Elijah’s plan was. Not to mention, it could set up a potential sequel, showing the secret society’s side of the story as they deal with the mad plan of a dead genius. This wouldn’t have been my favourite way to end it, since it does sequel bait a little, but I would have enjoyed the sense of “oh fuck, what did he do?”.
The final place where I would have ended it would have been after Ellie finds out that Elijah totally played her. We see, from a security camera’s perspective, the very tool used to ruin her, Ellie just completely break down. She slowly walks into the middle of the hall then begins screaming. If the film had ended there, I would have really liked it. It’s kind of funny, kind of tragic, but you know Glass got his last laugh, and seeing as how this was his film, it would have been a nice conclusion for him.
I just felt the whole “send the footage to my mother and these two other people associated with the guys I manipulated into fighting to prove myself right” felt needless. I liked seeing the three of them get together again to hang out and watch the aftermath of the reveal, but I would have cut the scenes showing them getting the email and audio clip from Elijah explaining his plot.
I kind of expect this sort of “explain everything” aspect to M. Night’s movies now, and it reeked a little bit of The Village, which I fucking hate, but the explanations weren’t nearly as obnoxious or condescending this time around. At least this time he doesn’t renege on the supernatural.
Pinkie and I do wish there was a little more development for the secret society. Considering Ellie called Casey a “victim”, Pinkie thought that maybe everyone in the secret society were victims of superhumans. It would have been more interesting if, instead of this high-and-mighty “we must preserve the balance” crap, which seems like an unrealistic and too-altruistic ideal for a society of mass murderers, we saw that at least one of the members suffered because of these supers, and then we can infer that the rest of them are in a similar position. It would also explain why Ellie might want to keep them alive and under the delusion that they’re not special, instead of just killing them like they’ve apparently done for centuries. Like…it is an easier solution, and clearly Elijah wouldn’t have been able to one-up them if they’d just killed him. I dunno, just a thought.
Dialogue – A-
Development – B+
Coherence – A
Conciseness – B
This is weird.
So, I remember, in the theatre, enjoying the music, but now I can’t for the life of me remember why.
It’s not memorable at all, which is too bad, however it does its job well as you’re experiencing the film. The music really got my heart beating in certain scenes and did a wonderful job at enhancing the experience.
It’s also used pretty sparingly, which I liked. Considering this film is all about trying to demystify the mystical, the use of silence in order to ground the film was a nice touch.
Unfortunately, I can’t say much more about it.
The only other thing I can think to talk about audio-wise was the sound design. Now that was memorable! Congrats to the Foley team. I could feel the Beast punch Elijah’s ribs into his lungs. That shit was nasty.
Memorability – C
Tone – A
The acting is probably the second-best part of the film. Everyone turns in a fantastic performance, and I didn’t notice too many instances of outright “Shyamalizing” the performances, outside of M. Night’s cameo, of course.
I realize one of Shyamalan’s signature directing quirks is making all the actors behave stilted and doll-like and unnatural, but I didn’t get much of that here. The only actors that really do this would be the man himself as well as Ellie Staple, but again I felt like she was meant be creepy and unnatural in order to drive home how fucked up she is.
Sarah Paulson does an amazing job. She pulls off the creepy, soft-voiced evil step-mom figure perfectly. I’d call her performance “sickly sweet”, as she was clearly playing someone who thinks they know best for everyone so long as they listen to her. It was very Dolores Umbridge, minus the childish giggling, and it made me fucking hate her. It was great.
James McAvoy is so much fun to watch in this movie. The Horde is so interesting, and the way he changes his voice and mannerisms so distinctly so that you immediately know which persona is “in the light” is fucking fantastic. Pinkie even timed the footsteps of each character (I don’t know why…) and each set of steps was different too. It was like he changed his gait based on how big the personas saw themselves as being.
Samuel L. Jackson was amazing. I can’t believe how still he could be when he was playing catatonic. It was insane. And he hammed up his comic book villain speeches like no tomorrow. Despite not having seen Unbreakable, I was able to pick up on the fact that this guy is obsessed with comics and story-telling tropes. I mean, it was pretty blatant. I could just see that he was having fun with the role. Especially when he got to twirl around in his wheelchair. That looked fun.
The weakest member of the main cast would have to be Bruce Willis, but even he did a great job. He didn’t get too too much to do, unfortunately, but what little screen time he had he used well. He was pretty well eclipsed by the performances of everyone else, which was unfortunate, but it’s the best I’ve seen him act in ages. He seemed to actually care what movie he was in!
Everyone else on the cast also performed well! Spencer Treat Clark was a treat (he’s soooo unbelievably adorable!), and Charlayne Woodard made a great mother to Elijah. She was compassionate and terrifying – everything a mother needs to be!
However, of the secondary cast members, I thought Anya Taylor-Joy totally stole the show. She and McAvoy got some extraordinary scenes together, especially when Casey finally brings Kevin out into the light with hugs. That entire scene made me so happy, and when he was immediately shot afterwards my heart was broken. Those two gave wonderful performances as Kevin died, and I actually found myself moved to tears by it. McAvoy always did a great job at making this monster of a character quite sympathetic, and seeing Kevin finally have the confidence to come out and live just as he was dying was so bittersweet.
The performances from everyone could make me forget how basic and somewhat clichéd and predictable the story was, and I think they all deserve credit for making this film entertaining.
Realistic – B+
Emotional – A
Effective – A-
This is hands down the best part of the movie for me.
I loved how this film looked.
After watching something as horribly bland and unoriginal as Replicas, I was in awe of the colour theory and cool camera things M. Night did with this film.
Now, I do realize that the colour theory was basic as fuck. I get that, and if anyone did NOT like the film because the colour theory was so blatant and at times just felt like colour coordination, then I totally understand it. However, after seeing similar colour theory used pretty ineffectively in Marvel’s Defenders, I was excited to see it used to great effect here.
Part of what I liked about it was that there were no real “bad guys”, and the colour choices helped illuminate this.
The worst of the worst, The Horde, who you’d think ought to be colour coded red or black to indicate villainy and danger, is instead coded yellow. It’s a colour that means caution, that indicates illness, deceit and cowardice. It also has many positive associations, like friendship, loyalty, intellect and enlightenment. These are all things that, in my view, pretty well explain who Kevin Wendell Crumb is as a person. He’s searching for the love he was denied as a child, he’s dangerous, but very sick and in need of help. He wants help.
Then you have our main villain, Mr. Glass, who again could be coded with more “villainous” colours, and instead is coded purple. Purple, being a mix of red and blue, is a neutral colour morally speaking. It has both good (blue) and bad (red) aspects. It is also the colour of royalty and is therefore a powerful and ambitious colour. It is also a colour associated with creativity, wisdom, pride, mystery, independence and magic. Once again, it’s a colour that very much suits Elijah and his desires and motivations.
Finally, you have Ellie, who is pink. Ellie is interesting because pink is a colour with positive associations: it’s a playful colour, it’s romantic, it’s charming, tender, and sweet. It’s also a colour associated with hope and comfort. Considering how she constantly wears pink, and the big group therapy scene where she’s desperately trying to convince them they’re all just crazy is in a pink room, it would seem to suggest she’s a good guy. She’s just trying to help!
However, her strange behaviour and her manipulative language, paired with this positive colour, really makes me uneasy around her. It’s like she’s trying too hard to be nice. She’s trying too hard to be personable and relaxing to be around. This is also aided by the sickly shade of pink that’s been chosen – it’s not a nice pink. It’s pretty hard to look at, to be honest. It’s a pink that I associate more with dying peonies and puss and open sores more than love hearts and bubble gum.
I mentioned Dolores Umbridge before when talking about Ellie Staple. Here is another too sweet individual who is actually a horrible, repugnant person, trying to mask her evil with a cute, nice, pretty colour.
And then you remember that pink is just a whited-out version of red, right? And maybe I’m thinking too much about this, but if red is a colour often associated with danger and violence, and white is associated with goodness and purity, then perhaps pink was chosen to show how Ellie wishes to be seen as the good, clinical aid (white) but cannot escape the taint of her organization who has spent years murdering people in order to maintain “balance” (red).
Just something to think about.
The best part of the colour theory, though, is the fact that it keeps the scenes looking interesting. Hospitals are hardly fun places to be, and often look washed out and drab. Considering we were going to be spending an hour or more just in the hospital setting, the few splashes of colour here and there helped keep me focused on the film.
The other thing I’d like to commend this film on is the camerawork. There are SO many cool sequences where the camera takes on the viewpoint of different characters, and the smallest movements show how the character is feeling…it’s just SO cool!
Probably the best example of this was in the group therapy scene, when the camera shows Elijah’s view of the room. He’s all slumped over because he’s supposed to be totally drugged out, and so the camera slumps over and makes this really bizarre shot where Ellie is at the bottom left of the screen, and most of the screen is taken up by the ghastly pink room. You can see her crane her head to try and get a more central spot in his gaze, but she’s just always kept to the side.
I just thought that shot was very cool, and it’s pretty bold. I mean, it’s not a very aesthetically pleasing shot, but the feeling it evokes was something that I just really enjoyed, personally. You could actually probably take that one shot and analyze it to see how Elijah thinks of Ellie and the situation. What I’ve learned in film theory is that, usually, the top right of the screen is a place of significance and power, whereas the bottom left is reserved for the weak and inconsequential. From there you can easily infer exactly how much Elijah thinks of the doctor.
The visuals weren’t flawless though. There were a couple instances of a CGI tank of water that just…well, it wasn’t Replicas bad, but it didn’t look real at all. However, a lot of the effects lookedpretty practical and well done. I mean, any time CG was involved it looked pretty rough, but all the practical stuff was impressive and made the world feel grounded and realistic.
I mean, it’s been a while since any of us have seen a superhero movie that’s felt real, y’know? And the Beast just bounding across the lawn at David, then flipping over a couple of cars in his rage, and David bending metal and whatnot…I mean, it all looked pretty good to me.
Again, I can totally see how someone could disagree with me on this. I think Replicashas just ruined me, and I might be very forgiving when it comes to visuals now… I’ll admit to that bias.
Special Effects – B+
Camerawork – A
Costumes – A
Set Design – B+
I kinda feel like I’ve said everything I needed to say.
Again, I am totally biased when it comes to movies now that I’ve seen Replicas. It was such a miserable, rage-inducing experience that I just couldn’t help but like this film in comparison.
I won’t try to defend this film too hard, because I can definitely see the flaws in it. However, I don’t think it’s as bad as some other reviewers make it out to be.
I mean, come on Rotten Tomatoes. 37%? It has a lower score than A Dog’s Way Home, a film that exists purely to make animal lovers cry and feel wuvs. At least Glass isn’t a lazy, manipulative film that had so little confidence in its story it shows THE WHOLE MOVIE in the goddamned trailer. Then again, I don’t really put much stock in RT scores anymore. I’ve seen too many instances of negative reviews being counted as “fresh ratings” and visa versa for me to believe any of these freekin’ scores.
I imagine that, by the end of this year and Pinkie and I have to come up with our “Best and Worst” list again, we’ll have mostly forgotten about this movie. We’re planning on watching a lot of things, and this wasn’t SO good as to drown out some of the other movies we’ll probably be seeing just next month.
I enjoyed the experience, I loved the conclusion to Kevin’s story, and I appreciated some of the filmmaking tricks used in the film. Outside of that, the movie was okay. Not great, like I think a lot of people wanted it to be, but certainly not an awful film.
Final Grade: B+
Sorry for the late release. Something was up with the server yesterday, so I couldn’t post until today. Hopefully that doesn’t happen this weekend, as I plan to release another part to my Dark Nights odyssey.
Pinkie and I also have something pretty big planned coming soon. I’ll be posting about it on the official Instagram page in a few days (hopefully). I’ve already posted some stuff there, so if you’re interested on seeing sneak peaks to the stuff those of us at the lab are working on, be sure to check it out! It’s a little boring right now, to be honest, but we’ll be posting more stuff every day!
Until next time.
P.S. I offer this challenge to anyone who wishes to try it: Watch Replicas, then watch Glass and see if it makes Glass any better. Pinkie and I are curious to what degree Replicas has tainted our review here. So, do it for science! 😉
- The film was visually interesting thanks to neat and simple colour theory as well as some cool camera tricks.
- The acting was superb, especially from the returning Split cast members.
- Good sequel to Split
- David Dunn was shoved to the side and his story beats mirrored Unbreakable too closely.
- Ending dragged out too long, and the shock from the twist was kind of lost because of it.
- Bad sequel to Unbreakable