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Film Review: GLASS

Almost 20 years ago (19 years ago, if you want to be exact) M. Night Shyamlan made a superhero film (of sorts) called UNBREAKABLE. Starring the likes of Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson, the film dissected the concept of superheroes and villains. Now, following the sequel (or spinoff, I suppose, depending on how you look at it) of 2016's SPLIT, Shyamalan returns to close the trilogy with this week's release of GLASS. So, is the finale worth the hype? Well first, let's talk about the premise. Picking up after the events of SPLIT, UNBREAKABLE's superhuman protagonist, David Dunn aka The Overseer (WILLIS), is hot on the trails of Kevin Wendell Crumb aka "The Horde" (MCAVOY) - a dangerous individual with dissociative identity disorder. However, unbeknownst to both of them, there awaits the genius Mr. Glass and the mysterious Dr, Ellie Staple (PAULSON).

Now, with that out of the way, let's talk about the film's strengths, starting first with the performances. Though Willis is perfectly serviceable in this 3rd installment, the true highlights are Jackson and McAvoy. As the devious Glass, Jackson picks up right where he left off in UNBREAKABLE, providing a character who is both methodically maniacal yet deceptively charismatic. Like a true evil genius - such as DC's Lex Luthor or Marvel's Dr. Doom - seen in comics, his plan is always about the long game; particularly, in the case of what goes down in this film. Likewise as The Horde, McAvoy - again as he did in SPLIT - turns in an impressive performance as a character stricken with various personalities - each with own unique backstories, vocal inflections, etc.

Another awesome element that permeates throughout this film are its comic book tropes. More specifically, the film's various enjoyable meta moments which comment on the medium and its fan base. One good example of such a moment is the one featured in the trailer where an individual is cornered by Glass and The Horde. I won't spoil it for you here, but let's just say that Glass hilariously comments on the moment as if it were torn out of a comic book. now my issues, which are actually minimal. While Shyamalan has recently tried to steer away from his prior movie tropes, they are still prevalent (to a degree) here. Not sure what I'm talking about? Well, let me explain. In many of his films, there are certain characters that you will likely come across in Shyamalan films: the reluctant lead character with a hidden talent, the skeptic, etc. With GLASS, for example, "the skeptic" comes in the form of Dr. Staple - who tries to convince the trio of Glass, Dunn, and Crumb, that their respective abilities are not superhuman, but rather ordinary. In a rant reminiscent of the critic character featured in LADY IN THE WATER, Paulson's character seems to be a heavy-handed way of writing off all comic book/superhero naysayers. Also featured in this film is Shyamalan's expected twist (which is arguably not as a major as in his earlier films, is still here nonetheless).

All in all though, GLASS is a nice entry to this unexpected superhero franchise. Though the film leaves the franchise open for much more (this comment will more sense when you see the film), this sequel provides a good conclusion to the story established in the first film, if we never get more.

Grade: B+

GLASS opens in theaters January 18, 2019.

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