Movie Review: Glass

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Elijah (Samuel L. Jackson), Kevin (James McAvoy), and David (Bruce Willis) are checking into a mental institution in Glass, M. Night Shyamalan’s conclusion to his Eastrail 177 trilogy. (Source: The Atlantic)

In 2000, M. Night Shyamalan made a movie where it used the superhero genre with a twist. While a modest hit in theaters, Unbreakable became one of the greatest cult classics of all-time. Filled with originality, subtle performances by Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson as David and Elijah, two individuals who discuss a comic-book theory after David survives from a tragic train crash without breaking any bones, and Shyamalan’s clever writing and directing approach by having a comic-book feel to every shot (e.g. the greens and purples during the characters’ arcs).

After years of mishaps, Shyamalan returns to form with Split, an unnerving psychological thriller about the effects of dissociative identity disorder. James McAvoy’s wonderful performance as Kevin Wendell Crumb, inspired by the real-life DID patient Billy Milligan, will send chills down one’s spine. These three people would eventually meet each other for the first time in a third movie.

Enter Glass, a movie with every intention to become a satisfying finale to one of the best trilogies in existence. Unfortunately, this is half-true.

After the events of Split, security guard David Dunn (Willis) works at a security firm in Philadelphia. Taking the alias The Overseer, he uses his supernatural abilities to see crimes people have committed by bumping into them. He learns from his now-adult son Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark) that Kevin (McAvoy) is holding a group of cheerleaders hostage in an abandoned factory. After an intense fight, they are sent to the same psychiatric hospital that wheelchair-bound Elijah Price (Jackson), who has Type 1 osteogenesis imperfecta (a rare disease in which his bone breaks really easily), has been staying at for years. While under the supervision of doctor Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) specializes in patients who believe to be superheroes (which sounds far-fetched beyond repair. There is something about her motivation that makes it somewhat captivating), all hell begins to break loose,

While not a complete disaster, it’s great to see Shyamalan return to his familiar roots after the surprise of Split. Jackson and Willis aren’t given much to do, but they do have their shining moments. However, McAvoy steals the spotlight once again as Kevin. While Split showed only nine of his 24 personalities, this movie shows 20 of them. Just like before, some of his personalities–particularly Hedwig–can be funny in an unnerving way. I swear, one of his personalities almost reminded me of Nic Cage. There is also more backstory surrounding him and other characters.

Along with his cinematographer Mike Gioulakis, he uses a lot of clever film techniques (ranging from POV to its flashbacks). I love the shot where Elijah escapes in his wheelchair while a fight ensues in the background. The first two acts are gripping enough. It reunites the characters we know and love. It’s also surprising to see the return of some supporting characters from the previous entries, like Kevin’s former hostage Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Elijah’s mother (Charlayne Woodard). There is a lot of patience given as the three characters start to evolve and learn about Elijah’s theory about the existence of superheroes, in which Glass does a great job exploring deeper into. There are plenty of twists throughout the film, in which Shyamalan is known for, which is part of the problem.

Without giving anything away, the last act, while exciting, feels a little too busy. It comes off as being preposterous and pedestrian, even by Shyamalan’s standards. It leaves people scratching their heads once the credits start to roll. Despite the disappointing final act, Glass is still gripping as it is fascinating. I’m more than glad these movies exist.

7.5/10

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Movie Review: The Upside

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Dell (Kevin Hart) takes care of a wealthy quadriplegic (Bryan Cranston) in the American remake of the French-language classic The Intouchables. (Source: The Wrap)

In 2011, a movie called The Intouchables came out in France. Based on a true story, it followed the friendship between a white quadriplegic millionaire and a black ex-con. It became the most successful French film; earning about $300 million worldwide. It received a lot of awards including the Cesar Award for Omar Sy’s performance and was honored at the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, where the directors earned the HOPE award for their terrific work bringing the story to the silver screen.

Director Neil Burger and screenwriter Jon Hartmere decide to bring the story back to life for American audiences. After its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2017, The Upside was put on the shelf amid the Harvey Weinstein scandal until right now. The movie has released during the controversy of Kevin Hart’s involvement of being the host for the upcoming Academy Awards ceremony. Talk about horrible timing!

Instead of taking place in Paris, the movie is set in New York City. Philip Lacasse (Bryan Cranston) is one of the wealthiest people in the city. A paragliding accident left him in a wheelchair. With the help of his assistant Yvonne (Nicole Kidman), he tries to find the perfect candidate to be his caretaker.

Enter Dell Scott (Hart), an ex-convict who lives on the other side of town. He comes into his estate to get a signature for his parole officer. Without being aware, he gets the job as Philip’s caretaker. Later, they form an unlikely bond they will never forget.

The Upside recreates famous scenes from the original, as well as adding a few subplots to stand on its own. For instance, Dell tries to reconnect with his ex-wife and son, but gets thrown out of his crappy apartment. The movie also shows Philip’s dreams of his tragic accident. As a result, however, there are plenty of cheap laughs to even out the drama in this tasteless movie lacking any subtlety or grace that made the original so good.

It does have a few decent laughs, especially one scene where they both go to a hot-dog restaurant while high on marijuana. Then, there’s a gag that involves replacing a catheter that goes on for what feels like an eternity. Everything just falls apart. Cranston and Hart are trying their best here. Cranston does bring his deadpan charisma into his role of the rich quadriplegic. For Hart, he is doing the same shtick he’s known for in his stand-up. He simply sucks the life out of his character. I have no idea what Kidman is doing here.

With last year’s BlacKkKlansman and Green Book, they showcase the hardships of racism in their own distinct way; by being as authentic and faithful to their source material as possible while trying not to manipulate their audiences. They also contain a sense of humor to even out the harsh reality of their portrayal.

The Upside contains none of those. It doesn’t have the charm of the original, the humor falls flat, the characters feel like stereotypes, and hardly contains any surprises. With its 126-minute running-time, the movie is twenty minutes too long. If you will excuse me, I’m going to rewatch The Intouchables to get the bad taste of The Upside out of my mouth.

3/10