Archive for the ‘Glass (2019)’ Category

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Distributor: Universal Studios

Release Date: April 16, 2019

Region: Region A

Length: 02:09:01

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC)

Main Audio:

English Dolby Atmos

7.1 English Dolby TrueHD

Alternate Audio:

5.1 Spanish Dolby Digital

5.1 French (Canada) Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Ratio: 2.39:1

Notes: This package also contains a DVD disc and a digital copy of the film. UHD/Blu-ray Combo and DVD editions of the film are also available for purchase.

Glass Title

“I want each film be a stand-alone in its power, in its language, in its originality…” –M. Night Shyamalan (Press Book, 2019)

For years after the release of Unbreakable, M. Night Shyamalan was asked by journalists if and when he planned on making a sequel. He was always noncommittal. The film was originally supposed to be the first film in a trilogy, but this plan was abruptly abandoned when it failed to live up to box-office expectations. This isn’t to say that it didn’t have its devoted admirers as many cinephiles, critics, and filmmakers (including Quentin Tarantino) have claimed it as a favorite. It is with some trepidation that I admit to being among these admirers, but I’ll go further and say that Unbreakable ties with The Sixth Sense as my favorite Shyamalan film.

My affection for the film is probably due to the various subtexts concerning identity that seem to saturate the film. Every important male character is looking to someone else to define them. Joseph Dunn looks to his father David. David looks to Elijah. Elijah looks to David. They all act out of desperation and/or become distraught at some point in the film when their sense of self is threatened (since the person in which they are looking to define them inevitably falls short of their hopes). Joseph pulls a gun on his father and gets into a fight at school. Elijah’s every action is a bid to prove the theories which define him, and he spirals into a depression when those theories are challenged. David Dunn gains agency in his own life because of Elijah’s theories and seems devastated when his friend proves to be both insane and murderous.

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David Dunn and Elijah Price in Unbreakable (2000)

It could be argued that Audrey defines herself by her relationship with David. She understandably seems rather desperate to make things work. However, if one delves a bit deeper, she seems to know her mind and has well established ideals. She doesn’t really depend on other people to design them. She was only able to have a relationship with David because of his fake injury. Her job is helping people heal and she doesn’t like the violent game of football. Her beliefs are well formed, and she seems quite firm in her resolve. In fact, this is another example of David Dunn’s reliance on others to form his sense of self. He feels the need to quit football so that he can continue his relationship with Audrey and fakes an injury so that they can move forward. This situation is a paradox since David and Audrey are only able to give their marriage another go at the end because David has found his place. Unfortunately, violence is inevitable if he is to proceed down this road. He can only be a good husband when he is doing what he was intended to do, but she has a well-established aversion to violence in all forms.

It is interesting to note that the women in this film are a bit stronger than the men (at least in regard to their identity) as viewers will notice a similar strength in Elijah’s mother. In any case, there’s so much that Shyamalan has to say as he unravels his deceptively simple subversion of the “Superman” mythos, and it is quite interesting to note that Glass is a crossover with Split. When one considers that this film centers around a man who suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder, it becomes clear that identity is a primary concern in this film as well (even if Shyamalan does very different things with the subject). Of course, this is appropriate since the basic plot of Split was originally written as a parallel storyline in an early draft of the Unbreakable script:

“Originally Unbreakable and Split were together. David and the Horde bump into each other at the train station and David follows him… Whenever you raise the stakes, you can’t un-raise them. So once you introduce girls being abducted, there’s a ticking clock that doesn’t allow for the breadth of character development that I wanted to do in Unbreakable with David, his wife, and his kid.” –M. Night Shyamalan (Vulture, January 07, 2019)

In other words, David Dunn (a man with no firmly established identity) was originally going to do battle with Kevin Crumb (a man with numerous identities) in the final act of Unbreakable before the final twist with Elijah. In fact, the final battle in the finished film is with a man keeping a woman and two children prisoner in their home. This is a similar situation to the one that plays out in Split. The primary difference being that the man in orange is quite different from Kevin’s hoard.

Interestingly, Many fans believe that Shyamalan inserted Kevin as a young child into the train station sequence as Dunn bumps into a mother and her young son as both the sound design and the onscreen action strongly suggest that the mother is abusing her child:

At the very least, this is a moment that suggests that Kevin Crumb was still alive in Shyamalan’s mind (even if the young child isn’t actually Kevin). In any case, these two films are tied together in other ways. For one thing, Split utilizes scenes that depict certain formative moments in the lives of both Casey and Kevin. This is very much in keeping with the structure of Unbreakable as it included a number of scenes from Elijah’s childhood.

Of course, there were also certain stylistic differences between the two films. Unbreakable was given a fluid aesthetic using sequence shots that employ precise compositions and minimal editing, while Split employed more a more conventional approach to coverage (although it should be made clear that his compositions were equally precise). Eduardo Serra’s cinematography for Unbreakable is some of the richest in Shyamalan’s filmography (rivaled only by Roger Deakins’ incredible work on The Village), but it was probably smart to give each film their own aesthetic to reinforce the idea that Split is a stand-alone creation (even if the events on screen take place in the same universe). The experience was further distinguished by employing music by West Dylan Thordson instead of James Newton Howard.

When Glass was announced shortly after (or perhaps during) Split’s theatrical success, it raised several immediate questions of equal importance: Would it employ the sequence shot aesthetic of Unbreakable or the more conventional cutting patterns of Split? Would Shyamalan bring back James Newton Howard’s Unbreakable compositions, West Dylan Thordson’s Split score, an amalgam of both of these scores, or something altogether different? We soon learned that Michael Gioulakis would return after serving as the cinematography on Split, and West Dylan Thordson would return to compose the music. The look and sound, however, seems to take both films into account while also creating a decidedly different aesthetic.

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David Dunn makes headlines after fighting the man in orange in Unbreakable (2000). This is the birth of “The Overseer.”

It was no small surprise to learn that Glass would also carry over the aforementioned theme of identity, and it was validating to discover that Shyamalan articulated this in the film’s press notes:

Glass delves into the root of identity itself: whether we are objectively who we are or whether our minds can shape and ultimately determine our physical realities…” –Press Notes

Glass had so much going for it that it seemed somewhat like an anticlimax when it was met with a cyclone of vitriol from critics upon its release. Had journalists not begged the director for nearly two decades to make a sequel to Unbreakable? Had he not given people exactly what they had been screaming for all these years? Well, yes and no… The trouble is really quite simple: every critic and every fan of the original film had their own interpretations of that film—and every critic and every film fan had their own ideas as to what a sequel to that film should be like. In the end, Shyamalan didn’t deliver the film that everyone expected. Worse, the film ended in a manner… well, suffice it to say that it didn’t sit well with their fanboy sensibilities or their preconceived critical expectations.

Let’s be fair and admit that meeting everyone’s expectations would have been impossible, because there were as many unique expectations as there were viewers for this particular movie. However, it is easy to understand why the ending may have rubbed people the wrong way. Shyamalan actually subverted more than our expectations. He subverted his own climax. Beyond this, he subverted the genre itself. That was his intention. It’s understandable if people react with disappointment or even anger. However, it’s difficult not to feel that it deserves further study. Who knows? Things might look very different in the future when our wounds have healed.

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The Presentation:

4 of 5 Stars

Universal protects the Blu-ray and DVD discs in a standard two-disc case with film-related artwork that features each of the three primary characters in shards of glass. One of the film’s one sheet designs would have been preferable as this isn’t an improvement over any of the three posters seen during the film’s theatrical run. The case itself is protected with an embossed slipcover that features the same artwork.

Teaser Poster

The disc’s static menu uses a cropped version of the design originally seen on the film’s teaser poster. It’s a notable improvement over the cover artwork and should be intuitive to navigate. (Those who own other Universal discs know exactly what to expect.)

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Picture Quality:

5 of 5 Stars

Universal’s extremely clean transfer is nearly beyond reproach. Darker scenes are well handled and are not marred by noise as one would have every reason to expect, and black levels leave little to no room for criticism. Fine detail is incredibly impressive throughout as a wide variety of textures grace each scene in the film (even if darker scenes may fair slightly less well in this particular respect). Color, clarity, and depth are equally well handled here. The encode is healthy and doesn’t introduce any unnecessary digital anomalies that might detract from one’s experience.

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Sound Quality:

5 of 5 Stars

The Dolby Atmos track is sufficiently immersive and should give your sound systems an adequate workout (even if this particular film is more subtle than is typical of the genre). As one might expect, the low end is particularly active here. Dialogue, effects, music, and atmospherics are all well prioritized. It would be difficult to find any legitimate reason to complain about the mix. It is truly a very nice job.

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Special Features:

3 of 5 Stars

Deleted Scenes – (24:53 with Introduction) – (13:36)

The disc’s best and most useful supplement is unquestionably this collection of deleted scenes (and the Alternate Opening). It is currently a matter of record that the film’s original rough cut was well over three hours in length, so these offerings merely represent a small fraction of the deleted material available. In all honesty, this release could have easily done without the generic promo-centric EPK “featurettes” and should have offered more of Shyamalan’s deleted material instead—or, better yet, a third disc containing a complete reel of the deleted footage would have made this an outstanding release.

However, it’s probably better to celebrate the thirteen minutes and thirty-six seconds of deleted material included here than it is to lament absent footage. In total, we are given twelve short scenes that fans of the film will be thrilled to own. Shyamalan discusses each of these scenes and provides contextual information while also explaining why they were cut from his final assembly.

The twelve deleted scenes are as follows:

Alone at Bar
Patricia Talks to Cheerleaders
David Encounters Pierce
Casey in Art Class
Dr. Staple Explains Machine
Mrs. Price in Waiting Room
Mrs. Price Talks to Elijah
Dr. Staple Drinks Tea
Pierce Checks Elijah’s Room
Mrs. Price Tells Elijah about Surgery
David Submits to Dr. Staple
Patients Worship the Beast

Alternate Opening – (02:57 with Introduction) – (02:13)

Let’s be honest. This is really just a thirteenth deleted scene. Luckily, it is an interesting inclusion as one can immediately see why it wasn’t used as the film’s credit opening. The final film has a much stronger opening (and better credits).

The Collection of Main Characters – (08:43)

Here’s where the disc begins to disappoint. Universal was once a force to reckon with when it came to supplementary material. For example, their documentary about the production of Jaws was terrific, and their Alfred Hitchcock titles all saw comprehensive “making of” documentaries. Unfortunately, those days have passed.

None of the included featurettes about Glass offer much more than typical promotional EPK navel-gazing. Comments about the production are generalized to the point of being meaningless, and there isn’t any attempt to dissect the material. This first series of four featurettes is the perfect example of what can only be described as “empty content.”

David Dunn

Elijah Price

Kevin Wendell Crumb

The Rest of the Family

Universal publicity would have you believe that each of these short clips contain a character analysis, but the truth is that it doesn’t offer anything that the viewer doesn’t already know. It is purely promotional fluff, and those who own the disc no longer need to be sold.

A Conversation with M. Night Shyamalan and James McAvoy – (5:10)

This conversation between M. Night Shyamalan and James McAvoy doesn’t really offer anything revelatory either, but it is marginally better than most of the other featurettes included here. It’s fun to see the director and actor discussing their project after the fact (even if we don’t really learn anything).

Bringing the Team Back Together – (02:54)

The cast and crew discuss how Shyamalan likes to reuse the same people on the production of his films, and how they form a kind of family as a result of this. It’s a subject that could have withstood a great deal of analysis, but even this feels anemic at under three minutes.

David Dunn vs. The Beast – (02:11)

We are supposed to think that we are learning about the production of the fight sequence in the film, but they are really just offering generic statements designed to sell the viewer on the film.

Glass Decoded – (02:52)

This particular featurette discusses the trilogy’s color coding, and manages to be moderately interesting even if it is sort on actual information and analysis.

Breaking Glass: The Stunts – (01:28)

We are given a general overview of the stunt work in an effort to showcase the film’s more impressive action sequences. There might me a nugget of actual information here and there, but it is still basically a fluff piece.

Connecting the Glass Universe – (02:54)

This featurette pretends to delve into the connection between the three films in the series, but it doesn’t really even scrape the surface.

M. Night Shyamalan: Behind the Lens – (02:46)

This EPK promo focuses on M. Night Shyamalan’s unique voice for all of two minutes and forty-six seconds.

The Sound of Glass (01:50)

West Dylan Thordson discusses his score for the film, and we do manage to learn a few interesting pieces of trivia. However, it seems unfortunate that no mention or comparison was made with James Newton Howard’s score for Unbreakable of his own score for Split. It seems like this topic warrants more than this fluff piece.

Enhancing the Spectacle – (02:53)

Enhancing the Spectacle gives an incredibly generic overview of how CGI was used to enhance the film’s practical effects.

Raven Hill Memorial – (02:16)

Raven Hill Memorial focuses on the film’s primary location. It can best be described as a documentary for the ADHD inflicted. We don’t learn very much in the two minute duration, but we don’t get bored either.

Night Vision – (01:56)

If these descriptions are beginning to sound redundant, this is because each and every one of the featurettes are lacking in actual content. Night Vision pretends to be about M. Night Shyamalan’s approach to visualization, but we don’t actually learn anything new here.

As a matter of fact, one wonders if the footage from all of these featurettes could have been combined into a single short that is more informative and worthwhile. Upon examination, this seems highly unlikely.

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Final Words:

Unbreakable was a tough act to follow. One’s enjoyment of Glass will require viewers to abandon all of their expectations. Universal’s Blu-ray offers an excellent transfer and a nice collection of deleted scenes.

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