Author Topic: M. Night Shyamalan's Eastrail 177 Trilogy (Unbreakable/Split/Glass)  (Read 52 times)

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Offline The Letter M

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(Granted, one of these films is 21 years old, but if you're like me, you might not have seen Split or Glass until recently!)

I didn't see any specific threads for these films, so I figured I'd start one up since I just recently watched Split and Glass for the first time ever earlier this week after rewatching Unbreakable for the first time in a few years. I've had Glass on BD since it hit stores, but only recently got Split on BD a few weeks ago and finally found time to watch all three in three consecutive nights.

It was great to revisit Unbreakable, and of the few Shyamalan films I have seen, this is easily my favorite one. It's not super perfect, but it's probably his best film, and Willis is absolutely golden in this one, as is Jackson, and the actor for Joseph Dunn, Spencer Treat Clark (who I appreciated returning to reprise his role in Glass). Revisiting this film with a more critical eye and appreciating Shyamalan's direction and framing of his shots to mimic the box-style panels of comics, I found this film even more enjoyable, beyond the superb acting performances and the great musical score. Not even counting this as a "Superhero Film", it's easily one of my all-time favorite films, but being a grounded, realistic telling of a superhero origin, it's probably the best of its kind.

As for Split, I had little expectations going into it, other than knowing how well-praised McAvoy was for his performance as Kevin Wendell Crumb (and his 23 alters). It was a very tense, suspenseful thriller that had me holding my breath numerous times! Anya Taylor Joy was fantastic as Casey, but the other two girls were a bit more stiff in their roles and performances. Thankfully their scenes were minimal after the first act (and that whole hanger-opening-the-lock part was less believable than The Beast being able to climb walls). I felt really sad for Dr. Fletcher, maybe more so than I did for Casey, whose backstory was really upsetting and depressing (and disturbing). And while I knew that Dunn had a cameo in the film, that final scene still surprised me, especially when the music from Unbreakable starts fading in.

It's interesting that this film is usually depicted as being the first-ever "stealth sequel", which surprises me that nothing like it has never happened before. The only thing I could think of that comes close is when Tony Stark appears at the end of The Incredible Hulk because, back in 2008, *I* did not know that both films would take place in the same universe. The Paramount Pictures' distributed Iron Man seemed like it was it's own thing set apart from the Universal Pictures' distributed Incredible Hulk, even though Nick Fury appears at the end of Iron Man, I didn't think that the Hulk would be in the same universe (since no other comic book films had any real crossover before, despite Fox owning and releasing films for the Fantastic Four, Daredevil, and the X-Men).

Anyways, moving on to Glass, I was going in to this one pretty much blind, outside of remembering a couple of trailers from a couple of years ago. I'll be up front - I avoided reviews before watching this, just so my opinions wouldn't be tainted, and after I finished it, outside of feeling a bit depressed about the upsetting death of Dunn, I quite enjoyed the film. It felt like it completed the trilogy, even if it was never really a trilogy from the start, but I felt like Mr. Glass, The Beast, and The Oversser had fitting ends. Elijah wasn't going to survive this, but the fact that his masterplan was a suicide mission all along, really and truly showed off his intellect. On this first viewing, I had no idea what he was planning until it was all revealed, so it really surprised me. For Kevin, it was sad to see him die, especially in the hands of Casey, but I liked that he was able to be freed from being suppressed by his more dominant, and kind of evil alters. And for David...well, yeah, his death really hurt me, and kind of flies in the face of his line in Unbreakable where he says "heroes don't die (by drowning)", but I think by revealing that there are forces out there that are able to take down these super-powered beings, it might encourage those with abilities to rise up and protect themselves from the out-of-left-field-revealed clandestine organization.

And speaking of them, and Dr. Staple, I was both upset by them coming up out of nowhere, but it made it feel like a Shyamalan film, for better or for worse, and it helps make sense of the fact that there aren't more special supers out there in the world. This black clover organization has been working hard for over 10,000 years to keep these people suppressed, gaslight them into normalcy, or straight up lobotomize/kill them. I do wonder why they had waited so long to try and capture The Overseer, especially if he's been a vigilante hero for nearly 19 years, especially when Elijah had been institutionalized for almost that entire time. Wouldn't someone have known that it was David that told the authorities that Elijah was the one who set up three acts of terrorism, the third of which revealed a single person who miraculously survived?? Seems like a BIG oversight on this supposedly powerful black clover secret society. Maybe having the Horde/Beast finally appear on the scene was what it took for Staple to track them all down and try to "cure" them. Just a couple of plot holes if you really think about it too hard.

I did enjoy that Glass did some call backs to Unbreakable, like how Kevin's dad died on the exact same train that David survived, or the supposed theory that the women dragging a kid along at the stadium in Unbreakable was actually a young Kevin Wendell Crumb. Or how Shyamalan's cameo character from Split was actually the drug-dealer from Unbreakable. I also really enjoyed the use of reflections and inverse camera angles in this film as a call back to those used in both Unbreakable, and to a lesser extent, in Split. I also like how Glass completely subverts the giant third-act CGI battle at the Osaka Tower for a more subdued battle in a parking lot, which is more fitting for the more grounded story-telling of this universe. And speaking of that battle, I'll just assume that David was weakened in his battle with The Beast that he was unable to get up from being held down in that freaking pothole mud puddle, especially coming right out of being in that water tank that so conveniently only had a tarp covering it and not a real, solid lid (and showing it earlier in the film that way was definitely a clue that he would end up in there eventually). Oh, and the use of two deleted scenes from Unbreakable finally making an appearance in Glass felt very satisfying, especially since Shyamalan was pained to cut out the flashback scene of Elijah at the carnival - BRILLIANT move, and I'm glad that kid finally got his chance to show that scene off, even though he would have been 19 years older by the time Glass came out!

Over-all, this is a pretty enjoyable trilogy, even if it wasn't wholly planned as one, the world was built and set-up in a believable way, and the characters are all very intriguing and captivating. Going from Dunn's story, to Crumb's in Split, and ending with the masterplan by Price in Glass, it all felt like each film filled in the pieces for each character. And the use of color in all three films is just astounding, even using yellows for Kevin/The Beast as a callback to the "Active Comics" issue that Elijah's mom gave to him as a kid, where a green-clad hero fights of a beastly yellow villain on the cover. Even if it wasn't planned out all from the start, calling back to those bits in Unbreakable in the later two films just feels like putting the last puzzle piece in and seeing it all fit together. I would love to see what other fans of these films have to say about them. It seems like Unbreakable is almost universally praised, both as being one of M. Night's best films, and the best of this trilogy, while Split is mostly praised (especially for McAvoy's acting), while Glass has the most mixed reception, but I think it fits the themes of the other two films, and that perhaps a lot of fans of Unbreakable and Split were expecting too much, especially in 2019 when comic book films were becoming the mainstream norm, unlike in 2000 where they were just beginning to break out. If tthis trilogy had been planned, completed and released all before, say, 2005 or 2008, it might have garnered better reviews by the end, but sadly, Glass released in a saturated market that lives up to expectations rather subverting them.

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