The finale to M. Night Shyamalan’s superhero origin trilogy, which was 19 years in the making, arrives on Blu-ray and DVD this week courtesy of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. Bringing the characters from Unbreakable and Split together, Glass is both problematic and fascinating at the same time.
Nineteen years after discovering that he has superpowers, former security guard David Dunn (Bruce Willis) has set up a business with his son Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark) that specializes in home security. The store is a front that allows David to prowl the streets as the rain poncho wearing hero The Overseer, as he is called online. Serving his brand of vigilante justice on those who he feels deserve it, and evading the authorities in the process, David is determined to find a group of cheerleaders who have gone missing.
When David locates the young women and their abductor Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy), who has twenty-four personalities which are referred to as “The Horde,” his routine rescue mission takes an unexpected turn when both he and The Horde find themselves locked up in the same psychiatric institution that is holding David’s arch nemesis Elijah Price aka Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson). There they meet Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) a doctor who has three days to convince them that their beliefs of superhero grandeur are nothing more than fantasies shielding them from traumatic events of their past.
As David and The Horde begin to question what is real and what is delusion, Mr. Glass sets a plan in motion to utilize The Horde’s biggest asset – the being known as “The Beast”.
While it is not surprising that Glass is not your traditional supervillain team-up movie, Shyamalan’s insistence on holding the audience’s hands through the tropes of team-up stories is. This is evident in the problematic climax which frequently pauses the action for expository dialogue on plot conventions in comics. The film also struggles to find space for the supporting characters in the film who are woefully underutilized.
Glass works best when Shyamalan lets his three principle characters interact with each other. Mr. Glass and The Horde, McAvoy gives another brilliant performance in the role, remain compelling characters even when isolated in their individual cells for large sections of the film. The simmering tension they build up is far more intriguing than the convenient tropes Shyamalan employs to keep the story moving.
Even in its most ridiculous moments, it is hard not to appreciate some of the risks that Glass takes throughout. Unlike the formula that Marvel and DC employs, this trilogy reminds us that you don’t need massive budgets to make a comic book inspired franchise. This idea of making a grand spectacle on a budget one tenth the size of a Marvel film is emphasized in the Blu-ray bonus features.
The Blu-ray is filled with a slew of extras that shed light on Shyamalan’s vision for the unique universe he constructs. “Glass Decoded” is an interesting featurette that highlights the use of colour over the course of the trilogy, and how it signifies the characters’ awareness of the comic book world they are in. Another fascinating feature is “David Dunn vs. The Beast” which explains how the climatic fight scene was pulled off. There is also a great conversation between McAvoy and Shyamalan that touches on the challenges with bringing this film to life.
While Glass is not as strong as its predecessors, even shattered glass has interesting pieces.
Bonus Features: Alternate Opening; Deleted Scenes, The Collection of Main Characters; A Conversation with James McAvoy and M. Night Shyamalan; David vs. The Beast; Glass Decoded; Breaking Glass; Connecting the Glass Universe; M. Night Shyamalan: Behind the Lens; The Sound of Glass; Enhancing the Spectacle; Raven Hill Memorial; Night Vision