M. Night Shyamalan, the visionary director of films like The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable & now Glass, has had a rough career. Once called “the next Spielberg”, Shyamalan quickly fell off the radar with box office bombs like The Last Airbender & After Earth. And while critics and audiences did like his last
Let’s start off at the beginning. Shyamalan started off his career with a small film called Praying with Anger. A couple of films later, the director found commercial success in the now cult-classic The Sixth Sense. It was widely celebrated among film lovers around the world, instantly proving him a force to be reckoned with. 2 years later, he directed the Bruce Willis-Samuel L. Jackson starrer Unbreakable, another critically acclaimed film. At this point, people started associating Shyamalan with his reliance on twist endings. After all, The Sixth Sense is well known for its infamous twist. And then came The Village, and this is where things started to get bad.
His next films tanked at the box office, with critics (and audiences) starting to lose faith in the director. His overuse of twist endings was starting to get tiresome, and his filmmaking style was getting stale. Alas, the world had seemingly lost another great director in the making. Or was it?
The Shyamalan Renaissance
2016’s Split, starring James McAvoy as a person with 24 different personalities, was a massive success. Not only were surprised by McAvoy’s bone-chilling performance, but they were also appreciative of Shyamalan’s return to the helm. And what about the twist? People went nuts over it. Seeing as how his next film, Glass is releasing this weekend worldwide, I don’t see any point in keeping it a secret. While Split can be seen as a standalone movie on its own, the last couple minutes really change the context in which it is set.
Removing that instance, the film still stands on its own as a psychological thriller. But with *that* ending, it elevates itself by borrowing (and commenting on) the superhero genre itself. The film industry has changed a lot since Unbreakable first came out. Gone are the days when superhero films were looked down upon. If you chart the top grossing films worldwide in the last few years, a comic-book film is almost certain to come out on top. Hell, with the Marvel Cinematic Universe in full swing, the concept of a shared universe is something every studio wants to replicate.
In any case, it seemed like it was Shyamalan’s return to form. With The Visit and Split having received positive reviews, Glass would only take him further, right?
The Potential Downfall?
Glass, the final movie in the Unbreakable trilogy, has finally released this weekend. How did it fare? Not well. With a current rating of 35% on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, it seems like the majority of critics have not liked the film. While I personally did like like the movie, I can see where people might have problems with it. At times, Glass does feel like disjointed, with many people citing that Shyamalan is commenting on the comic-book movie genre without actually understanding it. However, I don’t agree with that notion.
To discuss prevalent “issues” in the film, we’d have to talk about spoilers. (Which we won’t, at least here) Shyamalan has made it clear that he’s always planned this trilogy from the very start. Expect no more movies set in the Unbreakable universe, at least for a while. But that begs the question, does it detract from the experience? Let’s make it clear, Glass is not another Last Airbender. That’s for sure. We see the director going back to his roots that he so clearly established early on in his career. And the general consensus is we need more of that. He’s always had a knack for telling stories which involve a certain amount of supernatural elements, coupled with his reliance on twist endings.
M. Night Shyamalan is one of the more interesting directors, who unfortunately has had more failures than he can afford. Is it too late for his redemption? Only time will tell.