Nineteen years. Nineteen years! Six thousand, six hundred and thirty two days ago since Unbreakable was released in the USA. The “Eastrail 177 Trilogy” as it has come to be known is such an anomaly in the film world right now. We have had so many studios chasing Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) trying to release multiple movies in a singular year. Whether it is the mishandled DC Extended Universe, the ill-fated “Dark Universe” Cinematic Universe that got off to a non-start with Mr. Cruise’s The Mummy or even Fox’s “sometimes a hit, sometimes a miss” X-Men Universe which seems to be slowly (and sadly) getting shut down with the Disney merger.
I’m a big fan of comic books and the movies that are made around them. So to have something that is so different from the MCU I believe should be applauded. It takes restraint to create three movies over NINETEEN YEARS when in perspective that is Marvel’s output for a single year. It’s obvious that there is money to be made in superheroes and after all these years it could be argued that the universe being created here was not for the sake of making money but was actually a carefully thought out trilogy by M. Night Shyamalan. With all that time to refine does that make it a good movie however?
The “Eastrail 177 Trilogy” started back in 2000. In that year I was eight years old and was not really allowed to watch movies starring Bruce Willis choking people out and almost drowning. Parenting done wrong? Perhaps. I first became aware of Glass by simply seeing the teaser poster featuring Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson & James McAvoy and said I need to see that. I was not aware of the history of the movies before hand, I just thought this was a really, really cool poster. I found out about this prior studying I’d have to do and was ready to dive head first into some Shyamalan treats! Unbreakable (so-so) and then Split (so-so good!) both added to my excitement of the Glass teaser poster I had just happened to randomly one day come across. I had not been this hyped for a movie in quite a long time and could not explain why. Hopefully Glass can answer this question and live up to my self-made hype.
The movie wastes no time setting up who is who if you have not seen Unbreakable or Split. We see Bruce Willis as David Dunn/The Overseer righting wrongs and James McAvoy doing pretty much the same creepy stuff as “The Horde” personality through Kevin Wendell Crumb. Inevitably The Overseer ends up finding The Horde’s victims in an abandoned warehouse, they both throw down and end up spilling onto the street where the police promptly arrest them. Post their arrest, they are both placed into a mental institution which just so happens to be the home of The Overseer’s nemesis Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson).
From this point on you realise this is not the sort of superhero tale we are all used to on the big screen. For the majority of it’s runtime we see our three main characters undermined by the head doctor at every opportunity (just like your mum used to do with you when you were a kid) to prove that they are not superheroes with superpowers but they are just very ill people. The storytelling does such a good job of scientifically explaining everything “super” that happens to such a degree you as an audience member wonder if the two movies prior were just the thoughts of people that may have some issues.
The acting by the three main characters is fully realised, the standout for me is James McAvoy and his switching between personalities, it is still some hardcore acting that impresses me even after two movies. The rest of the cast reprise the roles from the former movies, Charlayne Woodard as Mrs. Price (Mr. Glass’ Mother), Spencer Treat Clark as Joseph Dunn (The Overseer’s Son) & Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey Cooke (The Horde’s surviving victim). Wondering why someone would want to see their torturer/kidnapper again? Glass does a better job than I thought it would at explaining why she wants to see Kevin Wendell Crumb and whilst this movie does not delve into Casey’s story as much as the other characters, I believe her arc in Split & Glass have made her enjoyable to watch and see her go from strength to strength.
The greatest problem with Glass is the middling middle. Opening with them clashing within the first twenty minutes, just to see them thrown into a chamber for a large remainder of the movie seems like a waste. Yes everything is here to build toward the story Shyamalan is telling with little bits and pieces adding to the final encounter, but some of it just feels like busy work for all the characters involved here. Add that to, not an underwhelming final showdown between The Overseer & The Horde but one that just doesn’t feel like it hits the mark in the right way, making it hard to recommend this movie to people who like their heroes to pack a bit more of a punch.
So was Glass worthy of finishing a trilogy that was started nineteen years ago? Unbreakable & Split were so different in tone from each other and it was interesting to see how these worlds were merged, which was done successfully with Shyamalan giving us the point of view from Sarah Paulson’s well acted and always serious Dr. Staple. By giving us the viewpoint of the doctor it makes everyone seem like they are out of their mind, giving a good baseline for the viewer to believe they are from the “universe” which ultimately adds to the grandeur of the movie overall. This is such a different type of superhero movie that it deserves credit for doing something others have not done before, even if it does not necessarily get everything right. I believe it lived up to my self made hype and it is worth seeing even if you have not seen the two prior movies, but I am still in two minds whether or not Glass is worthy of seeing out the trilogy because of the ending.
The ending of the movie opens up the potential for more in the future (as mentioned earlier it’d be hard not to make a movie universe) but this does not detract from the story as whole. If nothing else comes out of “Eastrail 177 Trilogy” universe that’s OK, but if more movies happen to come out well gosh darn it that’s OK too.