Stars: 3.0 out of 5.0
Starring James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Anya Taylor-Joy, Sarah Paulson, Spencer Treat Clark, Charlayne Woodard, Luke Kirby, Adam David Thompson, and Samuel L. Jackson
Written and Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Rated: PG-13 for violence including some bloody images, thematic elements and language (rated PG for violence and coarse language in Alberta theatres)
Runtime: 129 minutes
Technical Details on the DVD
Aspect Ratio: Widescreen 16:9 (2.39:1)
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and French Subtitles
Languages/Sound: English Dolby Atmos and Dolby Digital 2.0, Spanish and French Dolby Digital Surround 5.1
Layers: DVD 9
Visit Universal Pictures Home Entertainment for more details at www.uphe.com.
I’m a fan of M. Night Shyamalan and can count an easy handful of his past works that I consider to be fine popular cinema that focuses on character, on plot, on acting, on tension, and on atmosphere. All of that amounts, in my mind, to great writing and great directing.
When Glass came out in theatres, I sat down with two local movie bloggers for a panel review: www.stalberttoday.ca/entertainment-news/a-panel-of-glass-1300778.
Now that it’s out on disc and digital formats, I sat down with myself to give it a more formal go-over with a fine-toothed comb. I wanted to examine not only the story itself but some of the special features of the DVD/Blu-ray too.
I loved Unbreakable and Split, the first two chapters of Shyamalan’s Eastrail 177 trilogy wherein he introduces us to the three primary figures: David Dunn (Bruce Willis), Elijah Price AKA Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson), and Kevin Crumb (James McAvoy). These three overcome their traumatic pasts to become more than mere mortals in their adult lives. Dunn nearly drowned as a child and survived a major train crash but now he’s super strong and has telepathic abilities of a kind. Price has brittle bone disease but now he’s super smart. Crumb was brutally abused as a child and, in response, he developed two dozen different personalities that he collectively calls The Horde. One of these personalities can climb walls and ceilings and bends bars with his bare hands. That one is The Beast and it preys on young female victims.
In Split, one of those victims is Casey Cooke (Anya Taylor-Joy). She survives because she too had major trauma in her life. Just as The Beast was about to kill her for food, it learned her secret and spared her.
And this is my major beef with Glass. It’s somehow all about the three men. I don’t mean to sniff at their performances. Heck, McAvoy practically owns this movie as we see him go through 20 or so wonderfully realized albeit brief displays of individual and separate personalities. Not to give too much away but Crumb and Dunn are apprehended early on and taken to a mental institution under the care of Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) who claims to be able to cure their disorder of believing that they are superheroes. Frankly, Paulson and/or her character are dreadful and bring the movie right down.
But Taylor-Joy does a fine, fine job in a way underused role. Hey, M. Night… how come she didn’t get more screen time here? I’m pretty sure that she’s a superhero too. By the movie’s own logic, she survived her abuse and her captivity through something more than intelligence and more than physical strength. She empathizes with The Beast. She relates to him. She understands him better than any of the others.
That, plus her name bears the trademark alliteration that superheroes’ names often do. Kevin Crumb. David Dunn. Casey Cooke. Anybody else hear Clark Kent in there somewhere?
I chalk this one up to a missed opportunity or hopefully a delayed opportunity. Maybe Shyamalan intends to develop a fourth feature in his auteur-based superhero series. I wouldn’t mind it as I think her story warrants it and would make it watchable if done right. Fingers are crossed on that one. The way that Glass ended seemed like he wanted to put some finality on his otherwise marvelous Marvel-less universe.
Yeah, I’m a movie nerd so I dig both the modest alternate opening and the selection of several deleted scenes, especially hearing Shyamalan’s own words about why scenes were cut and other thoughts on story and character. This includes the one scene that “really hurt” him to exclude. It was neither here nor there to me, however.
The big bonuses for me included the conversation he had with McAvoy who, again, really proves his mettle as an actor with this film. Other features (some only on Blu-Ray or digital) that I considered special included:
- more about the Dunn vs. The Beast;
- Decoding Glass;
- Behind the scenes on the stunts;
- An overview of Shyamalan’s superhero universe; and
- A look at the director at work.