Like many of you I was a pretty big fan of M. Night Shyamalan’s UNBREAKABLE when it came out in 2000. It was a different time. One year after THE SIXTH SENSE, the idea of Shyamalan as a master of suspense was not a punchline, and quiet, sad Bruce Willis characters were fairly new territory. It had only been about a month since the very first X-MEN movie came out, and would be years before Batman began and the Marvel Cinematic Universe followed, so when we were blindsided by the opening title card of oddly useless comic book statistics, and Samuel L. Jackson (THE SPIRIT)’s character proceeded to make grandiose generalized proclamations about the comic book mythology, it was semi-forgivable. The ads gave no hint of this, but the movie took the idea of super powers and put them in a grounded suspense thriller context that felt like a pretty new combination of flavors at the time.

Sixteen years later Shyamalan had been a laughing stock far longer than he’d been a respected auteur, and the popularity of SPLIT counted as a comeback. Though I found the “oh, this was actually a super villain origin story” ending a little anti-climactic, I thought most of the movie was effectively creepy and I was really impressed by James McAvoy’s playful turn as the many personalities of “The Horde.” And of course I enjoyed the wacko reveal at the end that it was I DON’T THINK THIS IS A SPOILER ANYMORE taking place in the same universe as UNBREAKABLE.

Now, finally, Samuel L. Jackson is… GLASS. Except he gets a “with” credit. McAvoy gets top billing, because he does the most acting, by many different meanings.

It begins as a SPLIT sequel. McAvoy’s psycho Kevin Crumb is at it again, with several cheerleaders (in uniform) chained up in a spooky abandoned factory, babbling to them as a 9 year old and a British lady and others while waiting for his muscly, ceiling-crawling serial killer personality “The Beast” to take over. And then it becomes an UNBREAKABLE sequel, which is more exciting, because it was so long ago that we gave up on waiting for one of those. Bruce’s David Dunn now has his own home security company and also takes walks around Philadelphia so he can brush against people and use his DEAD ZONE powers to see if they’re up to any murders or anything so he can vigilante ’em. (When he gets to that stage he still wears the rain poncho, both to look scary and I guess to symbolize his dislike of water [because he’s an alien and this is also the same universe as SIGNS? I don’t know].)

The biggest upgrade to his operation is that he has a headset and he talks to his Robin or Whistler who looks up maps and addresses and what not on his computer and talks him through things from headquarters. This is his son Joseph, which is kind of nice because in UNBREAKABLE he was a little boy dead set on his dad being a super hero. I was excited when I looked at him and realized holy shit, that is the same actor, Spencer Treat Clark (LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT and THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN remakes), who was around 12 or 13 in the first movie and now is 31. They never bring back the kid actor to play the adult version. But Shyamalan did!

In fact GLASS has such a respect for actor continuity that it brings back Charlayne Woodard (THE METEOR MAN) as Elijah “Mr. Glass” Price’s protective mother even though she was mainly in childhood flashback scenes in the first film and therefore is five years younger than Jackson! That’s kinda weird, but I respect it. Also, in the tradition of PHANTASM OBLIVION, they incorporate unused footage from the first film for flashbacks. I thought that was kind of cool in the case of a little scene with Joseph, because they were able to show off the aging of the actor, BOYHOOD style. But there’s also a Mr. Glass flashback where little kid Elijah (not played by Samuel L. Jackson) goes on a carnival ride and smashes himself up. The scene adds no new character insights and makes him and his mom look like dummies for not being more careful, so it made sense when I was told that was also a deleted scene that had been on the UNBREAKABLE DVD.

(I still think it would be great if they did new childhood flashbacks with the original actor, Johnny Hiram Jamison, playing thirteen even though he’s in his thirties. Next time, maybe.)

David Dunn’s detective deeds do discover the dastardly dude’s den of dirty doings. (You see, comic books sometimes use alliteration, that’s why I wrote that sentence that way.) But during their battle they’re both apprehended by a SWAT team and one Dr. Ellie Staple (you see, comic books sometimes are stapled, that’s why that’s her name) played by Sarah Paulson (THE SPIRIT). She brings them to a specially equipped (though lightly staffed) psychiatric hospital that can contain them. She specializes in what she considers a disorder of people who believe they have super powers, so she also gets Elijah (still in a wheelchair, now sedated into near-vegetable state) transferred there with them. In the tradition of DIE HARD 2‘s “How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?,” Bruce’s disgusted “You gotta be kidding me” nimbly made me accept that they’d bring a terrorist to therapy with the sole survivor of one of his attacks.

Speaking of victims coming in close contact with their tormentors, SPLIT’s heroine Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy, THE WITCH) comes to the hospital and wants to see the man who kidnapped her – not to confront him, but to try to get through to his original personality Kevin, who she has sympathy for. You could argue that it’s Stockholm Syndrome, but it comes across more as an act of compassion based on their shared experiences with childhood abuse. It’s kind of touching when she’s excited to tell him that she got her molester uncle locked up.

But the Horde schemes to get out and Dunn tries to figure out if he can stop him and Mr. Glass seems to be only able to blink and twitch and yet keeps ending up wheeled out of his room somehow and may be planning some shit. For a while I was completely enjoying it on its own terms and for the novelty of a sequel to two mostly unrelated movies. I’d forgive a thing here or there – like the unnecessary update on the life’s journey of Shyamalan’s drug-dealing-security-guard character (which I later learned was also explaining that his building superintendent cameo in SPLIT is the same character). But eventually they started to pile up too much. Maybe what broke me was the scene where one of the nurses (Adam David Thompson, A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES) launches into a not-remotely-natural conversation about vitamins. But it’s all the clueless attempts at meta comic book shit that bury the movie and then dig it up just to slap it around and then re-bury it.

As I mentioned earlier, X-MEN came out less than a month before UNBREAKABLE. Then it had sequels and actually got recast with McAvoy himself starring as Professor X and that got sequels and seems not to far off from the point where it gets re-recast. It was already kinda laughable when UNBREAKABLE came out, but at this point there really shouldn’t be a question in absolutely anybody’s mind about whether or not regular moviegoers know the very most shamefully basic shit about what a comic book or a super hero is.

Enter Shyamalan. He has Elijah announcing that he is “a comic book expert” and then he (sometimes second hand through his mom) explains such fascinating analysis as that there is sometimes a thing called a “showdown” between the hero and villain. He proudly announces “ah, the main characters meet” when the main characters meet. Which is not necessarily a thing from comic books, it is also from all other forms of storytelling, in my opinion. And there is a big deal about how the showdown happens in “a limited edition,” this is mentioned a couple times.

Unlike Mr. Glass I am not a comic book expert, but I feel confident in stating that almost all comic books, being monthly periodicals, are limited editions. He might mean some kind of special collector’s edition alternate metallic cover or some shit, but in that case the “showdown” scene would not only be in that version, so what the fuck is he even talking about? Did the mom remember it wrong?

I think maybe Shyamalan thinks he’s making the SCREAM of comic book movies, but if so I think he needs to do more studying, because Mr. Glass is worse than Randy. Or maybe there just isn’t enough there there. These types of super hero and super villain cliches were already parodied and deconstructed to the point of boredom before the Final Girl concept was a glint in Carol Clover’s eye. You’re gonna have to know ’em way better and have something way more interesting to say than this, bud.

I don’t think I’ve seen UNBREAKABLE in at least 15 years, but catching part on cable last night reminded me of the silly scene where an asshole comic book store employee yells “You better not be jacking off to the Japanese comics, I swear to God” to Glass and threatens to call “5-O” on him when he knocks some stuff over. The same actor, Bostin Christopher (THE SCORPION KING 3: BATTLE FOR REDEMPTION) returns in GLASS, still lording over what looks like the same gigantic comic book store (now heavily stocked with Funko Pops) where much more labored and laughable things go down. Casey, Joseph and Dr. Staple each have separate scenes where they browse comics there and suddenly realize something about what’s going on because of a book they see or a thing that some person says out loud that doesn’t seem like a person who had ever heard people say anything out loud would write down for a person to say out loud. But my man did it.

GLASS is a pretty great illustration of the strengths and weaknesses of Shyamalan. I still like his storytelling instincts. I like how he strategically takes his time getting to things, and the thought he puts into camera moves and angles. It’s especially helpful on this Blumhouse budget, where he creates super-strength fights largely through clever camera placements and trickery. I might notice that he has the camera locked on McAvoy’s face while wrestling to avoid expensive FX, and when the camera’s out of focus as he runs at a guy I can assume it’s a muscleman body double, but I like it. It gives it a style that’s refreshing after so many years of (sometimes great) “live action” animated super hero fights.

And he can also be thoughtful about tone. There’s a sequence where Dunn does his vigilante thing, going after some young doofus street thugs who punch people out for Youtube hits. The natural way to play it is as an audience-pleasing comeuppance. I like that Shyamalan treats Dunn more like a serial killer breaking into their house, stalking in silently, his face covered in shadow. Similarly, he has some scenes and plot turns that seem sympathetic toward Elijah, despite being a mass murderer.

My problem is the director often comes off as completely out of touch about people, how they behave, how they talk. Shyamalan must not be aware of the world outside of himself, or he would know how laughable all this comic book shit is. Poor Anya Taylor Joy has to pretend to believe that the super-powers she’s witnessed can be proven by the fact that there are comic books where similar things happen. She has a ludicrous line where, during a dramatic discussion, she brings up the entry-level trivia that in the early Superman stories he wasn’t able to fly. After that first talk with Kevin all her scenes really let the character down.

Yeah, you get your Shyamalan twists. But one of them is not a surprise to anyone who was readin, about SPLIT on movie nerd websights when it came out – people already picked up on this detail about The Horde’s past that’s played like a “I am your father.” Then the big thing happens and THIS IS THE BIG SPOILER but I feel it’s worth discussing. It’s revealed through the sudden appearance of a HALLOWEEN 6/HOSTEL type tattoo that Dr. Staple is part of a secret society bent on suppressing those with super powers, either by convincing them they don’t have them or, if that fails, by killing them. And our three lead characters are killed so casually that I assumed at least Dunn would gasp back to life and take part in a big climax. And then after a few more scenes I realized oh, I guess they really are supposed to be dead. Kinda weird.

The thrilling conclusion is the USUAL SUSPECTS moment when the doctor realizes that Glass was actually on a “suicide mission” to demonstrate the super powers in front of the hospital’s security cameras and upload them to his private server (an iMac, I liked that) and the survivors – Dunn’s son and Glass’s mom and Horde’s victim – upload the videos to The Internet and sit holding hands in what looks like a train station but actually is the lobby of the building that was heavily hyped as the intended location of a big fight scene that never happened (long story) and watch as the videos hit The Social Media and Go Viral and the people all around them are lighting up as their minds are blown because the world they lived in was just a sugar coated topping but there was another world out there, the real world, and now they have it right there on their phone, their iPad, the cable news on the monitor. We are through the looking glass, people. The eagle has landed on the looking glass and I’m not even sure which side it’s on. EVERYTHING is different now. NOTHING and NO ONE will EVER be the same. Because there was a Youtube video of a guy pushing a van over. And another guy bending a metal bar. Fuck the moon landing. Fuck the invention of electricity. This is it, says the music by West Dylan Thordson (FOXCATCHER).

I feel bad trashing a Shyamalan movie. I feel like people were always dicks to him even when he was on top (ha ha, your name is from a different culture than mine, fuck you) and even after really hating LADY IN THE WATER I’ve been kind of rooting for him as an underdog. I kinda liked the almost universally panned AFTER EARTH and I think THE VISIT was quite good even though it was fucking found footage. Hell, I probly shouldn’t bring this up considering the response I got at the time, but I am one of the only humans on record as having sort of enjoyed THE LAST AIRBENDER! Plus I always wanted to see an UNBREAKABLE sequel, and of course this is Bruce (who gets less focus than a true lead, but is pretty good in it, as are Jackson, McAvoy and Paulson). So I was rooting for this. I would much rather be saying I loved it.

I guess all those years when we said we wanted an UNBREAKABLE sequel we should’ve been more specific.

Nah. Actually we shouldn’t have. Part of why I wanted to see it was because I couldn’t even picture what it would be. Turns out it’s this. That’s fine. I appreciate that Shyamalan is always Shyamalan. He’s made plenty of movies that I consider bad, but so far I always find them interesting.

This entry was posted on Monday, January 21st, 2019 at 10:41 am and is filed under Bruce, Comic strips/Super heroes, Reviews, Thriller. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

32 Responses to “Glass”

  1. I can’t believe Tarantino called him Shamalamadingdong on Sky Movies.

  2. I think some people had a visceral reaction and are still processing. Because most of the negative reviews I’ve seen compare it to other comic book movies, or latch on to quirky elements that they seem to have forgotten are a standard part of Shyamalan’s work. In particular, this series.

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion. After sleeping on it, it occurred to me this film is deliberate in its choices. It’s an uncommercial film that undermines expectations with purpose and ultimately sits with the transgressive, anti establishment cinema of the 60s and 70s.

    The MCU films are entertaining. But an unfortunate side effect they’ve had is a homogenization for mainstream genre cinema.

    If a movie like Soylent Green or Beneath the Planet of the Apes came out today, a lot of people wouldn’t really get it.

  3. I enjoyed it quite a bit. I have many of the same gripes with it that you do. However, after watching the ending and talking to everyone that was with me, how else could it have ended that didn’t feel like a bit of a letdown?

    If they live, it’s like a typical comic book movie. I honestly thought that they were going to make his son a hero, or Staple, and I’m glad they didn’t.

    But I absolutely agree with you on Glass and his “genius” in regards to comic books. I know very little about them and I even felt that I was being treated like a moron by Night. I thought he had finally grasped that the audience is always smarter than filmmakers assume. I guess after the beating he’s taken by audiences he feels like he has to treat us like children.

    It was McAvoys film, for sure. Bruce was just kind of there. Jackson was fantastic, just not given much to do.

    Great review, Vern.

  4. I thought it was disappointing as an UNBREAKABLE sequel and a SPLIT sequel.

    McAvoy has the largest role in the movie, but it feels like he’s starring in a scaled down version of SPLIT for most of the runtime. Meanwhile, Willis and Jackson barely have anything to do. I’m guessing this is because the budget was low and you can only get so much Willis and Jackson for a certain amount of money? The lack of Willis was annoying because I think they could have done some cool things with his ‘Overseer’ operation. The lack of Jackson is fine, because like Vern said, his role in this movie is to explain the most basic (comic book) storytelling to the audience. It’s weird how Shyamalan feels the need to explain basic storytelling, but assumes that everyone in the audience has seen UNBREAKABLE and SPLIT.

    The second largest role in the movie goes to Sarah Paulsen, who sits down and says the same things over and over again.

    Really sloppy final ‘SHOWDOWN’ staging aside, I feel like the twist and what ultimately happened at the end would have been really effective if Shyamalan had made us care even a little about ANY of the three ‘main’ characters in this movie. Any strong feelings I had about Kevin Wendell Crumb and especially David Dunn and Mr. Glass came from SPLIT and UNBREAKABLE, not this movie.

  5. Unpopular opinion: UNBREAKABLE is a very bad movie. It’s nicely shot, sure, but it’s deadly boring and seems to have nothing but contempt for everything related to the superhero comic book (and it’s fans) except for the whole lawless, violent vigilante thing, which it celebrates and which is, y’know, the most objectionable part.

    SPLIT is also very bad, although for the life of me I can’t recall a single thing about it aside from the endless scenes of underwear-clad teenage girls.

    GLASS isn’t exactly coming from great pedigree.

  6. This is a huge disappointment. The only upside is another crazy and fantastic performance by McAvoy. I don’t mind some slower buildup to a great conclusion, but the double-twist ending of this movie is pretty underwhelming, not to mention rather lame.

    I thought there would be some character expansion (as far as motivations and abilities are concerned) leading to an epic conclusion, but we weren’t given anything new that wasn’t given to us in the previous installments. Plus, having a project that Bruce Willis shows a little interest in putting forth some effort is pretty rare these days, and yet he is completely underutilized in this movie.

  7. This is not the movie we wanted. We all basically wanted a feature length version of the first 20 minutes, but with Mr Glass breaking out and teaming up with The Horde in the outside world. And yet, this is definitely a deliberate subversion of expectations and Shyamalan is not hiding that. He is so caught up on the meta narrative about comics but the rest of the world has moved on. I strangely admire his dogged adherence to his own goofy vision, even though I found it alternately boring and laughable after the first act. And he can’t direct action scenes for shit—no idea where to put the camera or how to stage an exciting sequence. Oh well, Night gonna Night. It’s take it or leave it at this point.

  8. Ya’ll really wanted the first 20 minutes for the whole movie? I was wanting them just to get the psychiatric hospital so the characters could interact and then they could spin off. I guess I’d agree that the movie either needed to be more like the first 20 minutes. Or they needed to table set less and have shit start going down and cool it on the meta-commentary crap.

    This movie also had a number of one of my more hated and frustrating movie cliches, where characters know stuff and either don’t tell each other for no inexplicable reason, or the audience is left in the dark about what a character has discovered because….we want more twists or something? That organization twist, by the way, at the end was really underdeveloped and what was there was kind of bad–lots of hanging out in restaurants and bars and everbody suddenly stops talking? I like Sarah Paulson, but man is that character a mess and a letdown. They needed to flesh her and the organization out more earlier, and honestly I’m not sure if any of 3 side characters–the most woefully used being Casey from SPLIT–meaningfully added the movie. They were all props and largely dull or frustrating ones at that.

    I wish M. Night did more director for hire jobs. His biggest weaknesses also strike me as him being too in love with what he’s done as a writer–like stupid dialogue scenes or ham-fisted twists–as opposed to how he stages and visualizes material. But I’d need to see a movie where he only directed it, and maybe came into the project late, to test that hypothesis.

  9. I thought this was pretty good, in fact I’m a little surprised you didn’t like it more, Vern, is this the only time I’ve liked a movie more than you did?

    The goofier elements didn’t bother me much, I was too caught up in the drama of the story, honestly? I was on the edge of my seat at times, especially at the end.

    It was just cool to finally see the return of David Dunn and Mr Glass after all these years, plus a continuation of SPLIT’s story, Kevin Wendell Crumb is also a compelling character.

    Maybe it’s not perfect but I still thoroughly enjoyed it.

    But lemme tell you, it sure made me feel old seeing the kid from UNBREAKABLE as an adult man (I guess I shouldn’t be surprised as he’s only 2 years older than me, but still)

  10. Also, the detail of the comic book shop now being comprised of a massive Funko POP! collection is a funny and true to life detail.

  11. Michaelangelo McCullar

    January 21st, 2019 at 8:27 pm

    I dug it. I’m surprised at the negative reaction. It’s a M. Night flick, so I went in expecting his quirks and ticks. But I was thoroughly entertained, and I dug the fact it refused to give you the fight through downtown Philly any other superhero flick would have given you. I respect his iconoclastic choices.

  12. Haven’t seen this yet and will likely wait until it’s streaming. But what’s the deal with M Knight and water?!? Did he have a near drowning experience as a kid or something? Because he’s always making water a killer or a power killer or some other stupid thing.

  13. I’m with you Griff

  14. So I liked Glass. Calling out the comic book tropes didn’t bother me because I thought people, particularly Elijah, would be so excited to see them in real life they’d exclaim it.

    Of course the first 20 minutes was the Unbreakable 2 we all wanted but Night was never going to make that movie (nor was Bruce probably). We can imagine 19 years of the Overseer saving people.

    I suppose I say this as someone who was disappointed in Split so I was pleased Glass was more Unbreakable 2 than I’d feared it might be, and I even liked the Split stuff more in this context.

  15. If you liked what you got, fair enough. But this way more Split 2 than a proper sequel to Unbreakable. Bruce Willis is barely in this fucking thing and Jackson doesn’t wake up until the third act. Dr. Staple is arguably the lead character…which is just an utterly bizarre choice.

  16. I got a few things right in a very general sense, like that the doctor was up to something and that Samuel L. Jackson was doing some sort of “I want everyone looking over here while I’m in fact doing something over there.”

    Anyone else feel it was a missed opportunity in not calling the Osaka Tower the Nakatomi Plaza instead?

    Also, I work in a psych unit. Conversations between the staff about things like vitamins at random are some of the less unusual ones that randomly happen (co-incidentally before knowing this article was up which I just found out, I was having a conversation with social work about this very film “I can recommend two films which could have helped you follow what was going on in Glass when you saw it. One is called “Split” and the other is called …”).

  17. Actually, to add on the subject of false flags and feints, could you imagine how many times the villains could have won in the MCU if they’d done something like Mr Glass? Even a simple 1-2 feint would have been enough. Exhibit A: Ultron.

  18. My problem with the vitamin dialogue is not just the topic, but the way he just instantly attacks the innocent security guard with dietary advice, unprompted by social cues. But the second time it cuts back to it it starts to seem like maybe it’s one of those times when he’s trying to be funny.

  19. I can neither confirm nor deny that just in the last week or two I intercepted a colleague within feet of his desk at the start of a shift in the conversation that started with everything from fitness, the gym (yes, there is one all but next door to the hospital, it’s just a bit hard to see from the street), diet including vitamins (most of them are worthless and you are in fact wasting your money) before segueing into talking about the new Spider-Man trailer that had just dropped, that he absolutely needs to see Into the Spider-Verse and ending with watching the Honest Trailer for Japanese Spiderman.

    I can confirm I’ve never had this conversation or ones like it with security, though (nursing staff, allied health, doctors and patients might be a different story, though).

    (I suspect the better question is not so much whether it’s true or not whether things like this can happen but more whether it makes good viewing. One may argue quite successfully I suspect that perhaps it is not.)

  20. I think a better question than “does anyone talk like this?” is “does it sound natural the way it’s depicted?”

    After all, nobody talks like Aaron Sorkin or Quentin Tarantino, either. But they’re able to find ways to make their character’s unnatural dialogue and behavior feel believable within the context of their movie. It seems like Shyamalan sometimes struggles with that.

  21. Well, I guess two good things came out of this movie – 1) People will rewatch Unbreakable and realize what an incredibly well-made movie it is, and 2) this review, which is Vern’s funniest in years. I was just telling people how awesome it is that Blumhouse lets its artists have full creative control, but then right after this I thought, “Somebody needs to reign Shyamalan in”. He’s gone full Lady in the Water here – another self-congratulatory, masturbatory meta-movie that’s not even meta or clever in any interesting ways. I still can’t believe a movie that exists in 2019 expects you to remember a ton of shit from two other movies, one of which from 2000 (I’d be completely lost if I just hadn’t watched Unbreakable), but also assumes you’ve never seen another comic book movie (or heard of comic books).

    *SPOILERS* It’s like Shyamalan saw all the watercooler debates and public discourse about The Last Jedi and decided “I want me some of that!” but then forgot to write an actual movie. Even the Star Wars fans who think of TLJ as a giant middle finger to them, will have to admit there’s ALOT going on there (new layers added to characters, burning questions answered, etc…). This movie just goes, “See, I set up your expectation and I SUBVERTED IT!” without offering anything else, which is in my opinion, no different than that middle finger. If you did somehow like the ending of this movie, where the leads all die horrible deaths and a group of secondary characters pull a fast one on a group of villains that we literally never knew existed three minutes prior, then more power to you. Ya gotta love a Matrix-esque, “Stick it to the man!” ending to a trilogy where the preceding 6 hours never once mentioned oppression or authority.

    Side note: I heard a podcast the other day where someone literally said “James Cameron is the worst”. I kinda expect that from any and all film podcasts now, but let me tell you what James Cameron WOULDN’T do – make Terminator 2 entirely set in the psychiatric ward, give Arnold nothing to do after the first 10 minutes, give DR. SILBERMAN the majority of the screentime and dialogue, and then drown Sarah Connor in a watery pothole in the parking lot. “What, did you just want a re-do of Terminator 1 with another robot? THAT would never fly. What, did you want another truck chase and finale in a factory? Where’s your imagination, man? Isn’t my way so much better and satisfying than what you had in mind? What kind of simpleton are you to want the same shit but bigger in a sequel?” Cameron would be completely in his right to make T2 this way but he had the good sense not to and that’s why people actually, y’know, like and remember that movie. I probably won’t remember Glass two weeks from now.

  22. I found it interesting that it seemed that comic books seemed to have the same kind of status in this movie as they did in UNBREAKABLE and for that matter our world circa 2000. It certainly didn’t seem like there are any cinematic universes or popular CW/Netflix shows for these characters.

    I’ve always thought UNBREAKABLE was more interesting to think about or talk about than actually watch. Despite some excellent scenes and touches I find it kind of a tough sit. This is kind of the opposite; it crumbles at the slightest ponderance, but while it was playing I found its unusual, if sometimes frustrating, choices so provocative and refreshing that I couldn’t help but love it while it was playing.

  23. [because he’s an alien and this is also the same universe as SIGNS? I don’t know]


  24. whenever anyone mentions film podcasts these days i scurry backwards up a fucking wall like a bride of Dracula.

  25. For the first hour and 45, I wondered what everybody’s problem was. It’s more or less what we figured a joint sequel to SPLIT and UNBREAKABLE would be, knowing it’s coming fron Shyamalan and will thus never do the strict crowd-pleasing thing. He’s just not wired that way. The crowd inside his head is pleased by different things than the crowds we go see movies with. I respect that. So even though it’s a superhero movie where the big stunt is a table getting thrown across a room, I was enjoying the quirky way Shyamalan was maneuvering the pieces into place. At no point does it seem like a story that could actually happen in the real world, but that’s fine. There’s an earnest, child-like quality to Shyamalan’s aversion to believable logistics that you kinda just have to go with.

    Then the Thorn Cult showed up and I got what everybody’s problem was. Wow. Is that a damp fart of a climax or what? A random secret organization shows up and drowns our hero in a mud puddle with 20 minutes left in the movie. There’s no way to put a happy face on that. That needed to be a “Oh shit! It all makes sense now! I want to watch the movie again immediately to reassess the plot with this new information in mind!” SIXTH SENSE caliber twist to be even the slightest bit satisfying as a capper to a loose trilogy spanning two decades, and instead it’s a THE HAPPENING style “Really? That’s what this shit is about? Are you sure?” style twist that in no way seems validated by anything that has come before. It just doesn’t feel right, to the point where, like Vern, I assumed this was a play on how comic book characters never seem to stay dead. But then the movie’s over and the big climax is people watching a YouTube video, which would mean jack shit because without substantiation from witnesses it would likely be seen as a hoax. It’s just a really unsatisying letdown of an ending that I honestly can’t believe all the stars signed on for. The directors Bruce trusts must get an entirely different Bruce than the one we generally hear about. I can’t imagine that Bruce letting, say, Kevin Smith kill him off in such a limp, awkward way.

    But hey, Shyamalan gotta Shyamalan. He does it his way. You don’t gotta like it but you gotta respect it.

  26. I don’t respect it.

  27. So… Have you folks seen the trailer for Knock at the Cabin?

    I’m trying to not get excited. I adore Paul Tremblay’s book, and the trailer gets so much of it right. And Dave Bautista is some genius level counter-intuitive casting. But… It’s Shyamalan, and he’s just not going to get it right. I mean, if there’s ever a movie that needs to dip into (ugh) torture porn territory it’s this one, and I don’t think Shyamalan has what it takes. And that’s before he said he was only ‘inspired’ by the book.
    Still, the thought of what Unbreakable-era-Shyamalan would have done with it, before his brain Lucas’d into mush at wot a genius scriptwriter wot he was… shit, I really need to keep expectations down. There’s no way he’s going to keep himself out of his own way with this one.

    There go my hopes of Pascal Laugier getting a crack at it.

  28. And to be somewhat uncharacteristically on topic: Glass is one of the very few movies I walked out on, IIRC at about the point where Shyamalan explains the obscure, niche comics concept of a climactic third act battle between the hero and the villain. You can’t subvert stuff if you only have an extremely superficial understanding of…jesus, not just your subject, but storytelling in general.
    It is fucking dire and a constant insult to the audience’s intelligence and the best thing I can say about the two thirds I did watch it is that it’s a joyless slog that happens to have McAvoy and Samuel Jackson being a lot of fun in it. Unbreakable, warts and all, is probably my favorite superhero movie and Split was a huge amount of fun.

  29. I’m afraid I’m not familiar with the work of Paul Tremblay, but I personally don’t want Shyamalan to ever lose his “arguably” delusional self-confidence. Sorry if a beloved book is a victim though, maybe it’ll be a TV series in a few years.

  30. So…for all the shit he gets, and some of it’s warranted and justified, Shyamalan is a film-maker I consistently admire even as his films fluctuate wildly in their ability to entertain and engage me. He’s an auteur in the truest sense that, like Tarantino, Wes Anderson and Michael Bay his movies are his alone, bearing his unique filmic signature, whether you dig them or not is besides the point.

    And so, KNOCK AT THE CABIN, which I just caught, is once again every inch a Shyamalan flick, from the measured pacing to the shots held and some expertly crafted scenes of genuine suspense, but, like OLD, the journey proves far more interesting than the destination. I haven’t read the book, so am unsure if the [REDACTED] Allegories were as heavy handed there as it is in this movie, which for me made the ending a little less impactful. But it’s still worth a watch. And a special shout out to Bautista, who’s shaping up to be a most interesting and fascinating screen presence.

  31. I’d agree with this. I’ve enjoyed aspects of all of his movies, except possibly this one (Glass, now Knock, which I haven’t seen yet.)
    I can’t imagine Shyamalan would have stuck with the end of the book, which is just too brutal and depressing for his style. About the allegories… I’m not sure the ones on the film will be the same ones as in the book. Shyamalan’s always had an interest in religious beliefs, whereas the book was (the way I read it) about more general beliefs, specifically political. Let me put it this way, I don’t think it would have been written before Trump’s term in office. From the reviews I’ve skimmed, the film is a bit more metaphysical.

    But I really want to watch it. The book kicks ass, and the reviews I’ve read of the adaptation have me cautiously optimistic.

  32. Finally got to see KNOCK AT THE CABIN, and yeah, I liked it a lot; Thought it was the best thing Shyamalan’s done in a really long time (I like SPLIT, but it’s a very silly movie.) A really well-made thriller, with an original premise and some out-there ideas (I liked the apologetic home invasion angle,) some great acting and Shyamalan’s formal mastery (a couple Dutch angles notwithstanding.)

    I think this is a great example of a good book adaptation that nonetheless changes a lot – the first two thirds are extremely faithful (most of the dialog is taken verbatim from the novel.) There’s two big differences – the tone (the book is motherfucking brutal, but I guess it’s understandable they would tone it down for a mainstream-ish movie) and the whole third act (which is pure Shyamalan.)


    I vastly prefer the book’s ending, but what Shyamalan’s ending ties into his own interests in making meaning out of fate and that there’s a plan for us – this goes back to UNBREAKABLE and SIGNS, and it’s popped up on several of his movies. So he took the novel and made it his own to wrangle ideas that are dear to him. I really really respect that, and honestly I’d prefer this to a faithful-to-the-letter adaptation that doesn’t feel as personal.
    It also plays a neat trick on people who’ve read the novel, mining a ridiculous amount of tension out of an event that won’t ever happen. Well played.

    @Kaykay – yes, the movie is much more on-the-nose with its allegories than the novel.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>