Lauded for his shocking twists throughout his career, Shyamalan fell off the map for over a decade due to a string of high-profile box-office failures. (Does anybody rememberThe Happening? And we don’t talk about The Last Airbender…) With Glass, however, Shyamalan combines the worlds of two of his most memorable pieces—2000’s Unbreakable and 2017’s Split—in a truly unique exploration of the superhero genre.
Lauded for his shocking twists throughout his career, Shyamalan fell off the map for over a decade due to a string of high-profile box-office failures. (Does anybody remember The Happening? And we don’t talk about The Last Airbender…) With Glass, however, Shyamalan combines the worlds of two of his most memorable pieces—2000’sUnbreakable and 2017’s Split—in a truly unique exploration of the superhero genre.
Beginning after the events of Split, Glassfinds David Dunn (Bruce Willis) pursuing Kevin Wendall Crumb (James McAvoy, who attacks the role with frantic energy) until both men are captured by Dr. Ellie Price (Sarah Paulson), a psychologist charged with attempting to understand her subjects and discern the truth about their behaviour. In the process, they also reacquaint themselves with Elijah Price aka Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson), whose shadowy presence emerges as an orchestrator whoholds secrets critical to both men.
By bringing his hidden hero David Dunn, Mr. Glass and the mentally unstable Kevin Wendell Crumb together, Shyamalan has the opportunity to further explore the realm of superhuman beings in a grounded, personal manner. In many ways, the film exemplifies Shyamalan’s signature style, unspooling his narrative as a slow burn with long takes and quiet dialogue. (In doing so, similar to Unbreakable, Glassserves as the polar opposite to examples of the current superhero genre which relies heavily on special effects and epic battles.)
Having collected all three characters into a high-security mental institution, Dr. Staple meets with her potential ‘heroes’ in a series of intense meetings attempting to cure them of any delusions. In each conversation, she points to events in their lives, questioning whether or not there is anything truly ‘special’ about each individual. Couldn’t Crumb have performed his wild physical feats after watching internet videos on parkour? What if Dunn’s superhuman strength was merely a result of weakened materials? In doing so, Staple calmly begins to deconstruct their understanding of reality in a way that challenges their beliefs about the world and themselves.
As a result, it’s this relationship between belief and reality that becomes the film’s central focus. Whereas Staple continuously calls into question the quality of her subjects, the ultimate question becomes whether or not that changes who they are. While doubt can creep into our minds (even to the point that it reframes our understandings), it does not change who we were created to be. (In fact, without giving away any spoilers, is it also possible that the lies we’ve been told could prevent us from reaching our full potential?) Whether it’s David Dunn, Elijah Price or Kevin Wendal Crumb, each primary character in Glassis on a journey of self-discovery as they attempt to discern truth from lies. While, in the end, Glasswill hardly be the film that defines Shyamalan’s legacy. However, there is also a lot to like in the film through its conversations about what defines our character and makes us who we are.
For its home video release, the film truly looks remarkable on 4K UHD, as Shyamalan manages to sharpen his colours in a way that help him tell his story more effectively. (The Pink Room, in particular, looks stunning.) Special features of note includeGlass Decoded, which details Shyamalan’s process of continuity over the three films (over 19 years!), and Connecting the Glass Universewhich explores his unique vision for such a grounded take on the superhero genre. Including the usual ‘alternate takes/deleted scenes’, the film does not include a director’s commentary. (However, there is a conversation between James McAvoy and Shyamalan who discuss the importance of originality for the genre.)
Glass is available on 4K, Blu-Ray and DVD on April 16th, 2019.