Glass Actors
(L-R): Samuel L. Jackson, James McAvoy, Bruce Willis and Sarah Paulson star in writer-director M. Night Shyamalan’s superhero psychological horror thriller sequel, ‘Glass.’

Title: ‘Glass’

Director: M. Night Shyamalan

Starring: James Mcavoy, Bruce Willis, Anya Taylor-Joy (‘Split,’ ‘The Witch’), Sarah Paulson and Samuel L. Jackson

Crafting vigilante warriors who rely on their natural powers to save the innocent and punish criminals in superhero movies perfectly highlight society’s real-life need to protect their society. That fierce commitment and drive to defend the world has helped make superhero stories become the most successful genre in the movie industry over the past decade.

The superhero genre has thrived in part because of its exploration of the most fascinating, terrifying, complex and wounded characters as they try to rescue the worthy and battle their dangerous enemies in diverse situations and environments. While the most successful superhero franchises now regularly begin with detailed back stories, Academy Award-nominated filmmaker, M. Night Shyamalan, helped launch the power of the origin story 19 years ago, with the release of his hit 2000 superhero thriller, ‘Unbreakable.’

After the release of ‘Unbreakable,’ Shyamalan found success once again with his hit 2002 sci-fi thriller, ‘Signs,’ and then released several other original and adapted movies that didn’t receive as much critical and commercial acclaim. But the writer-director returned to his true alluring creative filmmaking form with the release of the 2015 found footage horror movie, The Visit.’

Shyamalan’s innovative creative streak then continued with the 2017 psychological thriller, ‘Split.’ The movie excited and surprised fans of ‘Unbreakable’ when one of its main actors, Bruce Willis, reprised his role of David Dunn, one of the superheroes who helped launch the resurgence of the genre, and appeared in ‘Split’s final scene.

After ‘Split’s release, the writer-director announced that his next project, ‘Glass,’ would weave the stories of David, Kevin Wendell Crumb and Elijah Price together. The three films collectively became known as the Eastrail 177 Trilogy, which finally allowed fans of both ‘Unbreakable’ and ‘Split’ witness the fates of some of their favorite superheroes. Shyamalan, who is making his first proper, true sequel with ‘Glass,’ was drawn to giving audiences the answers they’ve been asking for during the past two decades. The revelations will be shared with fans when Universal Pictures releases ‘Glass’ in theaters next Friday, January 18.

‘Glass,’ which is set several weeks after the conclusion of ‘Split,’ follows David (Willis), the protagonist of ‘Unbreakable,’ as he determinedly prowls the streets of Philadelphia. With the help of his son, Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark), who also appeared in the trilogy’s original film, David passionately searches for the man who’s responsible for the recent abductions and murders of local teenage girls.

Meanwhile, Kevin and the multiple identities who reside within him (James Mcavoy) do whatever it takes to stay under the radar and not get caught by the police. But after a chance encounter with Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) and officers, both Kevin and David are set to a local facility, the Raven Hill Memorial Psychiatric Research Hospital, which treats mental disorders. The facility also holds Elijah, who refers to himself as his alter-ego, Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson), and holds secrets critical to both of his fellow patients.

Dr. Staple soon tells all three of her patients that she’s determined to treat them for what she insists is a false belief of being real-world superheros. As the three self-proclaimed superheros then begin to battle back against the people who are trying to repress them, Joseph, as well as Casey Cooke (Anya Taylor-Joy), the only captive to survive an encounter with Kevin’s most dangerous alter-ego, The Beast, and Elijah’s mother (Charlayne Woodard) all set out to fight the injustices against the men they care about, as well as the evils that are plaguing them.

The overall Eastrail 177 trilogy powerfully works as a collective narrative, even though ‘Unbreakable’ and ‘Split’ didn’t truly connect until the last scene in the second entry. With the addition of ‘Glass’ to fill in previously unanswered questions left by its two predecessors, and offering a satisfying conclusion the interwoven stories of David, Kevin and the final film’s title character, the new drama stunningly delves into the root of identity itself. Shyamalan, who has been interested in the psychology of therapy since he was in college, expertly ponders whether people, especially the main three characters, can use their minds to shape and determine their physical realities.

Joseph, Casey, who has formed an almost spiritual bond with her former captor since he released her during ‘Split’s conclusion, and Elijah’s mother have all supported the respective men they care about. That unwavering loyalty is due to their intimate insight into the minds of the self-proclaimed superheroes, which makes the three men all more human and understandable. Meanwhile, Dr. Staple and her colleagues brilliantly fulfill the modern societal belief that her patients’ idea that they’re superheroes is a delusion.

‘Glass’ is an emotionally captivating and enthralling culmination of the two stories that were previously presented in ‘Unbreakable’ and ‘Split.’ The Eastrail 177 trilogy proves to be one of the most compelling genre series in film history, as Shyamalan interwove relatable and sympathetic protagonists and villains with classic superhero, thriller and psychological horror story elements. Like its predecessors, the new movie sets a precedent in creating and expanding original superhero characters and stories that reflect on modern cultural norms, ideas and sentiments, which turns the collective stories in the three movies into an unprecedented original trilogy.

Technical: A-

Acting: B+

Story: B+

Overall: B+

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Writer-director M. Night Shyamalan's superhero psychological horror thriller sequel, 'Glass'
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By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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