A Touch Of Glass
Yeah, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything. Are you that surprised?
It’s not like I haven’t been going out and watching things . Or playing things. Or reading things. (Scrap that last bit. I have been more distracted by sudoku and picross/nonogram games of the last while to actually commit to reading anything in a while.)
It’s more that I’ve just felt like I’m a bit too late to the game to write something insightful or interesting on some things. That’s not to say there’s been good and bad movies or TV shows.
Just don’t judge my headspace too much.
I suppose in some ways it’s very weird that watching Glass was inspirational enough to get my finger out and write something about this movie. But maybe such inspiration is not a good thing, because I kind of just want to moan about how much I wanted this film to be better.
Don’t cry, Bruce. I went there.
I’m unsure what Glass pitched itself as, but it has hit our screens as a crossover between M Night Shyamalan’s previous movies Unbreakable and Split.
Glass follows Unbreakable‘s vaguely super-powered David Dunn (Willis), taking it upon himself, with the help of his son Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark), to clear out some random bad guys . You know, the types of guys who take videos of their friends attacking people while shouting “Superman punch” and then upload it to the internet?
Yep, the truest and most monstrous villains of society.
Dunn, thanks to his “sixth sense” (different film, same actor, same director) senses some villainy going on while out on patrol and finds four high-school cheerleaders locked up in an abandoned building by James McAvoy’s “split” character(s) awaiting the arrival of his Beast personality. Both men have a fight, get taken into custody and end up in an asylum where Dr Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) has three days to get into their heads and prove to them that their powers and abilities are all delusional.
Both men are locked up at the same centre is Dunn’s somewhat enemy Mr Glass (Samuel L Jackson), who, despite being the film’s title, barely appears in the first hour of the film, and when he does is a comatose wreck.
Glass embraces more psychology and origin than the usual superhero aesthetic. There are limited dramatic fights scenes: instead, we engage with the mentality of these characters as the film delves into the origins and reasoning of (and surrounding) superheroes and their nemeses.
This could all work in a much shorter film, but Glass labours its beats, making sure that its audience are sure of just how crazy the notion of a superhero is. Yeah, you know that origin-beat when Uncle Ben dies? Or when Bruce Wayne’s family die? Or…you know, when the hero is treated to some other inspirational moment that is more than just the death of a parental figure?
Well, Glass suggests that Shyamalan has been solely wallowing on this beat and this moment for three films.
Just to be sure.
There is no subtlety in these beats: the film even features a scene (shown in many of the trailers) where Joseph Dunn finds himself in a comic-book shop alongside two huge signs for “heroes” and “villains.” The implication that this store keeps the two narratives separate doesn’t really work in a world where the media has been overloaded with a world of superheroes and antiheroes.
Unbreakable, released a whole nineteen years ago, is a perfect starter for this narrative: nineteen years later, this is instead a narrative that has become too tired and overused for such commentary on and, unfortunately, the contents of the Glass just aren’t good enough to bring anything interestingly new.
In keeping with Shyamalan’s usual narrative’s, Glass comes with a final reveal that puts the rest of the film in a (slightly) different perspective. It’s a beat that saves the film from losing itself completely down the rabbit-hole, but in doing so is a beat that renders this film (and it’s prequels) nearly meaningless. It’s a good thing that the stars are capable of delivering some meaning while chewing on the scenery: with so many characters to deal with and and attempt to give each character and narrative a breath, there is no real heart or commitment in the film.
Glass suggests that the world doesn’t need or want superheroes in it: I can sort of agree (yes, I am tired and fed up with superheroes.)
But I don’t think Glass is aware of the fact that, as it tries to both embrace and destroy a genre at the same time, it is desperately trying and wanting to be a part of that genre.
Also published on Medium.