By Carmelo Chimera. January 17, 2019.
I have been on the edge of my seat for “Glass” ever since “Split” came out, but I was waiting for the next chapter in David Dunn’s life for far longer. 19 years ago I was just a young wanna be philosopher, but even then the movie captivated me with its “so grounded, it could almost be real” approach to superpowers. I rewatched “Unbreakable” the other night to get ready for “Glass” – and as with every viewing I was blown away by brilliant that film is.
I had the good fortune of attending an advanced screening last night – but with all that lead up, would “Glass” be worth it? The answer is a resounding yes.
I want to give you an overview, my analysis of what makes the movie special, a quick guide on whether or not YOU would like this movie, an honest look at where it let me down, and a final verdict.
WARNING, there will be spoilers in the review – I point those out as we go so you can avoid them.
4.5/5 Stars: With A Few Flaws, “Glass” Does Not Disappoint
I went into “Glass” hoping for a hyper-grounded approach to superpowers that challenges audiences to look inside themselves for the extraordinary, and that’s exactly what I got. It’s an excellent genre mashup – with elements of Shyamalan’s experience in horror, thrillers, action, and drama – with riveting performances by nuanced main characters.
Plus, if you’re a dork like me, you’ve been wanting to see David Dunn have a real fight since the credits rolled on “Unbreakable.”
There’s a few really excellent performances and moments in the movie I have to give a shout out too:
- Anya Taylor-Joy returns as Casey Cooke and her dynamic with Kevin Crumb (aka “the Horde”) is beautiful and fascinating. Remember, the Horde kidnapped her and tried to feed her to the Beast. So…awkward. And also maybe my favorite thing in this movie.
- Sarah Paulson is haunting as Dr. Staple
- Spencer Treat Clark was great as Joseph Dunn as a little kid – and he’s still great. He gives emotional grounding to David’s more selfless storyline
- Charlayne Woodard adds dimension to Elijah Price’s character. How many bad guys have a mother? And how would that mother feel about her son being a supervillain? Very well executed
The Philosopher’s Superhero Movie
Now let me just say, I think you have to go in with the right expectations. This movie is fast-paced, don’t get me wrong (immediately, you’re thrown in with Dunn as he tracks down the Horde), but it’s not a CGI-fueled blockbuster superhero roller coaster. It’s not what I wanted, it’s not what Shyamalan made, and if it’s what you want just skip this movie.
“Glass” is an overt analysis of superhero mythology, and the interplay between mythology and reality. But what makes this analysis so special is its application to our every day life. “Glass” asks you outright – are you a superhero? Are you more special than you think? Are your limits real, or did you let the world tell you those limits are there?
What would you be capable of if you believed you are extraordinary?
Like “Unbreakable”, characters in “Glass” overtly discuss the tropes of comic books – from the evolution of costumes and powers to the character archetypes. And this invites us to apply these discussion to ourselves.
These ideas add dimension to characters like the Horde and Elijah Price. Like any good villain, they see themselves as heroes, and the rationale makes sense. Elijah isn’t evil per se – but he’s got a role to play and his role as “the mastermind” is to create the conflict that challenges the hero and leads to “the showdown” – where all is revealed.
It reminds me about the story of Judas Iscariot. In Christian theology, Judas betrays Christ and is damned for it. But, if it was God’s plan to sacrifice his Son for mankind, then Judas’ betrayal was part of the plan. How can we punish a man who was destined to do something evil for a greater plan over which he had no say? Judas played his role, and in that sense, was he not heroic?
And so it is with Mr. Glass. Elijah Price has his role to play, and he accepts it. Sam Jackson fills the character with genius, charisma, and just the right amount of crazy. He’s not a cackling madman – he’s just a madman.
“I’ve been waiting to show the world that we exist.”
-Samuel L. Jackson as Mr. Glass, “Glass”
I think in the end what I loved about this trilogy is that, like all good art, it entertains (the movie has, by my count, three twist endings) but it also makes you look at the world, and yourself, a little differently.
You Can’t Miss “Glass” If…
- You loved “Unbreakable”
- You’re a fan of M. Night Shaymalan and twist endings
- James McAvoy captivated you in “Split”
- The ever-increasing stakes of blockbuster superhero films is starting to make all of them feel less epic by comparison
You Should Avoid “Glass” If…
- You didn’t see “Split”
- You’re expecting huge explosions, sky-beams, and heavy CGI fueled battles
- You find superpowers silly no matter the form
- You need your movies to be light-hearted with clean, happy endings
The Cracks In The “Glass” (!!!SPOILER WARNING!!!)
The movie isn’t perfect, and I had a few issues with it that I still grapple with.
First, you really won’t understand this movie without “Split.” It literally picks up right after that film, and I think The Horde’s disorder and resulting powers are not well explained until the second act of this movie. I don’t think it’s a huge problem in this era of connected universe movies, because Kevin Wendell Crumb literally had an entire supervillain origin film, but I do have to judge this movie on its own merits.
Second, and THIS IS WHERE I GET INTO SPOILERS, I thought the presence of the unnamed secret society at the end came a little out of nowhere and is, arguably, a little tacked on. It’s very important – it fills in every plothole I’ve heard fans complain about, and it is central to the theme that the world is holding us back by stomping on our belief in our extraordinary selves. But I feel like it could have been foreshadowed a little better earlier on in the movie. In fact, I’m not sure it would’ve hurt the film at all to suggest the existence of such a cabal in vague terms, with the reveal being instead that the cabal was literal rather than metaphorical. It does however set up the amazing conclusion and final twist regarding Mr. Glass’s plan.
Third, and MY BIGGEST SPOILER SO PLEASE STOP IF YOU’RE GOING TO SEE THE MOVIE, I did not like the way David Dunn died. For such a noble and heroic figure, who I’ve loved for 20 years, to die drowning in a puddle, forced down by an unseen and unnamed savage, was beyond depressing. I don’t know if it’s the death or the the method that bothers me more – no, nevermind, it’s the method. Still, there is a nice sendoff for David at the end that makes it sting less, but yeah. This was brutal and it left a bad taste in my mouth in what was otherwise an amazing cinematic experience.
My Final Verdict
Like I said, it’s not perfect. But I found it gripping, engaging, and it both expanded and concluded a trilogy two decades long. It’s universe-building and climactic simultaneously, and I think it will become a cult classic before long.
If you like superhero stories that turn the genre on its head, check out Carmelo Chimera’s graphic novel, “Magnificent.”
By day, Carmelo Chimera practices law. By later in the day, he owns a pair of comic book stores. By even later in the day, he writes and publishes books and comic books.