by Hunter Johnson
“He’s the new Steven Spielberg!”
“His signature twists amaze and astonish without fail!”
“His eye for filmmaking surpasses all others!”
These are the kinds of things audiences and critics were saying about director M. Night Shyamalan twenty years ago. With hits like “The Sixth Sense,” “Unbreakable,” and “Signs,” Shyamalan proved over and over again that he could do no wrong.
So what happened? What caused a director to suddenly fall out of the viewers’ graces and into an abyss of more and more hated films?
After “Signs,” he did “The Village,” a film that some consider another Shyamalan masterpiece but was overall divisive. Then he made “Lady in the Water,” a passion project based on an original bedtime story that was filmed well but fell short when it came to story.
But viewers still had hope that those missteps were just flukes and he would return better and stronger. That’s when things got even worse for Shyamalan.
Next, he made “The Happening,” a universally panned film with awful performances and cheesy drama. Then fans were ecstatic to hear the news that Shyamalan was adapting the beloved children’s show, “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” into a film. They were even more disappointed to receive a film so bad that many filmgoers consider it one of the worst films ever made.
Shyamalan outed himself as a flawed artist. Most artists would give up after all that scorn, but not Shyamalan.
That leads us to the return of Shyamalan. Beginning with the largely unseen but expertly made “The Visit,” and the well-received tv show, “Wayward Pines,” Shyamalan demonstrated signs of a potential resurgence. That’s when “Split” came out.
Critics raved about Shyamalan’s newest thriller starring the charismatic James McAvoy and welcomed the director back into the limelight yet again.
Now, Shyamalan’s newest thriller has been released and there’s a lot more riding on this film than just its own potential success. Audiences are crossing their fingers that “Glass” would cement the return of the brilliant filmmaker that Shyamalan used to be known as.
And it absolutely fulfills that return. “Glass” is a brilliantly executed film with meticulous dialogue and careful plotting as Shyamalan completes his “Eastrail 177 Trilogy,” with “Glass” acting as the direct sequel to both “Unbreakable” and “Split.”
While the film may have some flaws — the underuse of Bruce Willis’s talent being one of them — “Glass” hits it out of the park as a thought-provoking film that delves into the minds of so-called “superheroes,” asking tough questions and giving satisfying answers to those questions.
As was the case with “Split,” the true star of the film is James McAvoy, who delivers yet again as the multi-personality serial killer, Kevin Wendall Crumb. Every personality that McAvoy brings out is completely distinct and enjoyable to watch.
Bruce Willis is fine in the film, but unfortunately, he has very little to do. It somewhat seems that Shyamalan was much more interested in McAvoy’s character or Samuel L. Jackson’s character than Willis’, which is a shame because if used properly — a feat done with the same character back in 2000s “Unbreakable” — Willis could’ve really shined in this film.
But speaking of Samuel L. Jackson, the return of “Mr. Glass” is a treat well-worth the wait. Jackson’s portrayal is fresh, creepy, and just as entertaining as it was nineteen years ago in “Unbreakable.”
Overall, “Glass” is a film that knows exactly what it is. Even in the age of superhero filmmaking, Shyamalan doesn’t give in to those superhero tropes for a second. He delivers the same dark tone he set up in “Unbreakable” and “Split” and he closes out this psycho-analytical trilogy expertly. Let’s hope that Shyamalan can continue this new streak of great filmmaking for future films.
Hunter Johnson is a sophomore theatre major and an arts and entertainment writer for Cedars. He spends his time acting on stage, reading and watching Star Wars, and occasionally doing homework.