Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Glass

♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) introduces herself as a psychiatrist specializing in patients with delusions of grandeur. Among her patients are: David Dunn (Bruce Willis), the lone survivor of a train wreck years ago who believes that he has superhuman strength; Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy), a former zoo employee who has 23 different personalities which include a diabolic supernatural creature known as The Beast; and Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), a super intelligent comic book enthusiast with brittle bones who refers to himself as Mr. Glass. As the three are taken in for custody in a psychiatric ward after years of pursuing their own destinies in line with their own beliefs, the three are bound to be convinced that they are indeed not super at all, but rather suffering from different mental illnesses that lead them to believe so. Or are they, indeed, super and is Dr. Staple the one hiding something up her sleeves?

Shyamalan is back and this time with a crossover of his greatest hits. Perhaps your question is whether you will be able to relate in case you missed either Unbreakable or Split. Well, to some extent, Glass can be your starting point and you can just backtrack from here. In my case, I didn’t see Unbreakable, but a quick Google search will easily fill you in on the details you’ve missed. As for Split, it was a tour de force performance from McAvoy and we’re glad to see him reprise the role here. Miss Patricia!

It’s also good to see some familiar faces as well as new alliances. I just found out that the guy playing Willis’ son here is the same actor who played his son in Unbreakable. He basically grew up in this universe and coming back after more than a decade to the same role is a rare opportunity in Hollywood. Taylor-Joy also comes back to reprise her role in Split, albeit with new allegiances.

But the real star of the show is Glass. Hence, the title. While this is considered a cinematic crossover, it is still he who owns this narrative despite the material not being his standalone film. You can trust Samuel L. Jackson to portray a weakling yet still project a sinister psychopath image that just haunts you. Overall, the interplay of stories is not that contrived and just to see these three talents coming together for an ensemble feature is already worth the admission price. However, the film is not without its flaws.

For one, the climax perpetually hinted upon since the beginning of the story is never reached by the plot. They talk about it ad nauseam, yes, but they just don’t bring you there. As such, what you get is a build-up to a non-existent culmination that gives you a dafuq-is-that-it reaction. The material also thrills but in a way that does not really titillate the senses. It’s more of a psychological thriller that revels in its subtlety, which is cool and all, but might no longer be that as attention-grabbing nowadays as it once was.

If anything, it seems to be an issue of timing. This IS a superhero flick after all. Even before Marvel monopolized the box office, Unbreakable was already established as a predecessor of the modern-day superhero flick, except that it wasn’t that explosive and eye-catching as your typical Marvel or DC blockbuster. Glass maintains the same ambiance and feel, which serves as its ultimate downfall. In a cinematic world where a new superhero formula now reigns supreme, is there really a place left for a subtle superhero film to succeed without the recognizable elements that have overhauled the entire genre?

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