Movies

Movie review: ‘Glass’

M. Night Shymalan works extra hard to avoid predictability in quirky superhero movie

By Rick Romancito
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 1/18/19

Imagine being in a roller coaster car clicking and clacking up and up into the sky. The anticipation and sheer suspense is so strong you can taste it in the back of your throat. You can see the crazy twists and turns of the tracks beyond and just know this is going to be a ride of epic proportions.

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Movies

Movie review: ‘Glass’

M. Night Shymalan works extra hard to avoid predictability in quirky superhero movie

Posted

Imagine being in a roller coaster car clicking and clacking up and up into the sky. The anticipation and sheer suspense is so strong you can taste it in the back of your throat. You can see the crazy twists and turns of the tracks beyond and just know this is going to be a ride of epic proportions.

Then, just as you get to the top, the ride suddenly veers off to a flat parking area and it stops.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is what the movie "Glass" is like.

Highly anticipated after the success of "Split," this movie was supposed to weave together the threads left from it and "Unbreakable” (2000), and it does, but how writer-director M. Night Shyamalan gets you there may have you wondering if this was the movie you plunked down your cash to see.

“Unbreakable” introduced us to David Dunn (Bruce Willis) and Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), two men who were strangers to each other until a horrific train derailment identified David as its sole survivor. If you haven’t seen it, or “Split” for that matter, I highly recommend them, but for now be warned there are some spoilers ahead for those who haven’t.

Elijah is not just a dealer and an expert in rare comic books, he believes they presage actual stages in human evolution and outline certain mythological characters that fit into this dawning new world. But, because he was afflicted as a child with a condition known as osteogenesis imperfecta, which makes his bones easily broken (hence the nickname given by kids, “Mr. Glass”), he has compensated with highly developed intelligence. He is also insane.

In order to prove his theory, he engineered several major disasters that killed hundreds of people — including that of Eastrail 177 on which David was riding — just to find the one person who fit the profile of a real flesh-and-blood indestructible super-strong super-hero.

In the closing big reveal of “Unbreakable,” Elijah blurts out to David, “Now that we know who you are, I know who I am. I'm not a mistake! It all makes sense! In a comic, you know how you can tell who the arch-villain's going to be? He's the exact opposite of the hero. And most times they're friends, like you and me! I should've known way back when... You know why, David? Because of the kids. They called me Mr. Glass.”

In “Split” (2016), Shyamalan brings to the fold another character with many levels of goodness and villainy wrapped into one, a man named Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy in a phenomenal performance) who suffers from a psychological condition known as Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). On the surface, Kevin is working with a psychiatrist who has identified 23 different personalities in him, plus one who has yet to emerge but is ominously referred to as “The Beast” — who, it is suspected, possesses superhuman powers. Collectively, they are also referred to as "The Horde." But, hidden from sight, he is responsible for kidnapping teenage girls Casey Cooke (Anya Taylor-Joy) and two of her classmates.

Although it isn’t mentioned during “Split’s” running time that it’s part of the “Unbreakable” universe, at the very end we see David offering a small comment about a news story on TV at a Philadelphia diner.

See, at this point, the momentum is building. Knowing now that the two previous movies are part of an epic story unfolding around these super-humans in our midst, and that because the new movie is titled “Glass,” one has to suspect that Elijah is at the center of a diabolical plan that has been churning for the intervening 19 years, something dazzling is about to happen.

And, at first, it kinda does. David knows someone has kidnapped four cheerleaders and has been going on “walks” to use his extrasensory powers to get a lead on the perp. One day, as his son, Joseph (a grown up Spencer Treat Clark), listens on a two-way radio, he gets lucky when he happens to brush the hand of Hedwig, one of Kevin’s personalities on the street.

During the cheerleader’s rescue, David encounters “The Beast” and an epic battle begins — but it’s sidetracked when the police show up and capture both of them and take them to a psychiatric hospital, where, it so happens, Elijah is also held.

Shyamalan deftly interpolates characters and elements from the previous movies to help tell this story, but appears to also be extremely aware that certain expectations are rampant about how it should be told. Granted, he is a very good storyteller, despite what a lot of online haters say, but the deliberate, almost literary quality to his filmmaking has a way of drawing out the plot so we understand certain nuances. Some of this has to do with our’s and the character’s need to believe in real super-heroes. Certainly, Marvel and DC Comics have developed a massive industry around their constant stream of mega-budget movies, but no one has ever really examined the psychology underneath it all.

In “Glass,” we have a psychiatrist named Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) who poses the idea that Elijah, David and Kevin are all under a very elaborate delusion, and by inference so are we. And, at one point, we start to believe her. This creates some basic plot conflicts, of course, but before your brow starts to furrow, plot twists start coming fast and furious. Be ready to get blown away.

Tempo grade: B

“Glass” is rated PG-13 for violence including some bloody images, thematic elements and language.

It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

Also showing in Taos

Maria By Callas: In Her Own Words

MPAA rating: Not rated

Taos Community Auditorium

This documentary film is described as an intimate look at the life and work of Greek-American opera singer Maria Callas, as told in her own words.

Director Tom Volf's debut documentary uses archived TV interviews and scenes of "paparazzi" swarms, but keeps a sharp focus on Callas’ accomplishments from the early 1950s until her untimely death in the mid-70s. It also displays her temperament towards the harsh reality of the opera world as a booming recording industry and its societal hierarchy.

Among those appearing in archival footage are Aristotle Onassis, Vittorio De Sica, Pier Paolo Passolini, Luchino Visconti and Omar Sharif.

This film will be screened at 2 p.m. Sunday (Jan. 20) and at 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday (Jan. 21-23) at the Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For tickets and additional information, call (575) 758-2052 or visit tcataos.org.

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