PG-13 Dir: M. Night Shyamalan | Universal | 2h 9min
Plot: What’s it about?
I’ve never really known what to think about the films of M. Night Shyamalan. On one hand, I have to admit that he’s a very talented writer and filmmaker, but on the other I think that his films have a particular niche and if you don’t like that niche, you’re out of luck. As most any film-lover knows, he burst on the scene with 1999’s The Sixth Sense which has gone down as one of the better films in the last few decades, even earning a spot on the AFI Top 100 list. He followed that up with Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson in 2000’s Unbreakable, his ode to comic books. And how fitting that some twenty years later, he’s finally bringing some closure to what is now a trilogy. There have been other films and my personal favorite of his is 2006’s Lady in the Water, though I imagine that any fan of his will undoubtedly have their personal favorite. But it’s with Glass, his follow-up to Split, that we’ve finally arrived. Split served as a critical and commercial success, something that Shyamalan’s films have suffered from over the last decade. Is he back or was Split a fluke? Let’s find out.
Assuming that Split has been watched, we follow David Dunn (Bruce Willis) who had learned (at the end of Split) of Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy) and what his multiple personalities were capable of. Donning the guise as “The Overseer”, Dunn has become somewhat of a legend in Philadelphia (where the movie takes place), doing what he can to right what’s wrong in the world. Kevin, or one of his personalities, has kidnapped a group of four cheerleaders and is holding them hostage. Dunn rescues them, only for both to be caught and committed to a psychiatric ward. Under the care of Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson), Dunn and Crumb are joined by Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) where Dr. Staple is convinced that these three men’s “super powers” are nothing but figments of their respective imaginations. She’s has three days to prove it.
Of course, there’s more happening than that, but to go into too much detail would ruin the surprise. And once the cat is out of the bag in an M. Night Shyamalan film, it’s just not the same. As Shyamalan admits in a featurette, Unbreakable came out in a time (2000) when there weren’t a lot of superhero films. That, now, is a thing of the past. We’re used to having Infinity Gems and costumed heroes save the planet with scene after scene of action jammed down our throats. So I find it fitting that a film based on comic books, has very little action in it. Some like this and others don’t. To each their own. It’s nice to see both Willis and Jackson reprise their roles and McAvoy, the “newcomer” to the group essentially carries the film. Glass might not be the best film of the three, but it does provide a fitting resolution to the trilogy – like it or not.
Video: How’s it look?
One thing I’ve always liked about Shyamalan’s films is his use of color, or as the case may be in most of them, lack thereof. I remember watching a featurette for The Sixth Sense and he went on and on about the color red – he wanted it out of the film in every single scene! He again takes this approach with Glass and did the same with Split (and Unbreakable). Each of the three main characters has their own tone, be it purple, golden or green. And the film is much more colorful than its predecessors. Universal’s 4K disc makes full use of the wider color spectrum and the included 2.39:1 HEVC 4K image really shines. The CGI veins in “The Beast’s” skin, the greying beard sported by Willis’ character and the amazing wig worn by Samuel L. Jackson’s character all look amazing. They showcase the detail that only a 4K film is capable of showing. The included Blu-ray doesn’t look bad by any means, but there’s a palpable uptick in clarity and color with the 4K version.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Like the first two films in this series, there’s not a lot the Dolby Atmos track can do to shake the room. Sure there are moments when the speakers become engaged, notably when “The Beast’s” persona comes out. But apart from that, it’s a pretty subdued track. By no means does it sound bad, but given the tone and nature of the film, the sound serves as a nice compliment. Vocals sound rich and pure and McAvoy’s character(s) are the ones occupying the lion’s share of the dialogue. His accents range from that of a nine-year old boy, to a gruesome beast, to a gangster to a nun. He’s quite impressive with his vocals. Surrounds activate some dynamic range and serve to give the film a nice ambiance.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- The Collection of Main Characters – A look at all the main players and how they fit in the universe created by filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan.
- David Dunn
- Elijah Price
- Kevin Wendell Crumb
- The Rest of the Family
- Bringing the Team Back Together – M. Night Shyamalan is famous for working with many of the same crew from film to film. In this piece, cast and crew share personal stories of why Shyamalan’s productions feel like seeing family again.
- David Dunn vs. The Beast – An in-depth look at the animalistic face-off between David Dunn and The Beast.
- Glass Decoded – M. Night Shyamalan unveils some secrets of continuity and style from across the Glass trilogy.
- Breaking Glass: The Stunts – The superhuman strength of The Beast is best illustrated in the stunts. Take a behind the scenes look into the very effective methods of executing stunts in the film.
- Connecting the Glass Universe – Explore M. Night Shyamalan’s stylistic approach to the Glass trilogy and the unconventional concept of a comic book movie grounded in reality.
- Night Shyamalan: Behind the Lens – Cast and crew discuss Shyamalan’s dedicated and meticulous approach to storytelling.
- The Sound of Glass – Composer West Dylan Thordson elaborates on his use of string instruments to create tension and explains why recording the score on-location enhanced the tone of Glass.
- Enhancing the Spectacle – The VFX team provides details on the rewarding task of using CGI as an effective tool to intensify the narrative of Glass.
- Raven Hill Memorial – Roam the long corridors of Raven Hill Memorial Hospital and see why the cast and crew describe the eerie location as its own character in the film.
- Night Vision – A look at the early stages of Glass by examining the storyboards and their remarkable similarity to the final shots in the film.
- Alternate Opening – Director M. Night Shyamalan has an optional introduction that can be played prior to the film’s opening.
- Deleted Scenes – Introductions by director M. Night Shyamalan can be played with these scenes (as introductions) or simply by themselves.
- David Alone at Bar
- Patricia Talks to Cheerleaders
- David Encounters Pierce
- Casey in Art Class
- Staple Explains Machine
- Price in Waiting Room
- Price Talks to Elijah
- Staple Drinks Tea
- Pierce Checks Elijah’s Room
- Price Tells Elijah About Surgery
- David Submits to Dr. Staple
- Patients Worship The Beast
- A Conversation with James McAvoy and M. Night Shyamalan – Star James McAvoy and Producer/Writer/Director M. Night Shyamalan discuss the importance of originality when creating a film in this genre.
The Bottom Line
Glass provides suitable closure for the Unbreakable “trilogy” (and the quotes are used intentionally), but leaves the door open for more if audiences want it (i.e. the studio thinks it can make money). The more I think about the film, the more I felt I liked it. And that’s the thing with Shyamalan’s films – their deliberate pacing really gets you to think. Universal’s disc is packed with supplements, though most are pure fluff. And, as expected, it both looks and sounds amazing.