Glass Movie Review

If nothing else, M. Night Shyamalan is audacious and I have always admired that. He likes to swing away at the cinematic fences and in Glass, he melds two of his pictures into a new universe. It’s ultimately not a very satisfying one, but the guy tries hard.

At the end of 2017’s Split, which returned the filmmaker to box office prominence, it was revealed that what we watched existed in the same realm of 2000’s Unbreakable. It did so by bringing in David Dunn (Bruce Willis). As you may recall, Dunn was the lone survivor of a train derailment who came to realize he was impervious to pain. Comic book store owner Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), suffering from a disease that cause his bones to break easily, surmised that David was a superhero. And Elijah was the arch nemesis as the 2000 flick revealed he was the evil mastermind behind the train going off the track.

In Split, we were introduced to James McAvoy’s Kevin and almost two dozen other characters that lived inside his head while he tormented teen girls that he kidnapped. From an annoying nine-year old boy to a OCD monster to a proper British dame, his personalities culminated with The Beast, who also possessed super human strength. The surprise ending suggested David will battle The Beast and low and behold – Split made more than enough money for that to occur.

This brings us to Glass. The first act allows this trio of characters to end up in the same mental institution with a psychiatrist (Sarah Paulson) attempting to dissuade them of their perceived powers. Dunn is sensitive to the possibility. The many voices of Kevin has his moments of doubt. Elijah, aka Mr. Glass, is so doped up that we’re not sure he knows what’s going on. However, fans of Unbreakable know the dude is a mastermind.

Glass brings back other characters from its double source material. Charlayne Woodard returns as Elijah’s supportive to a troubling degree mother. Spencer Treat Clark is back as David’s now grown son (Robin Wright skipped out as his wife). And Anya-Taylor Joy reprises her Split role as Kevin’s surviving kidnap victim. Her story arch here is easily the most inexplicable one in a movie filled with often strange choices.

My feelings with Unbreakable and Split are a bit against the grain from many others. I actually dug the former 19 years ago while many found out it to be a disappointing follow-up to The Sixth Sense. As for the latter, I enjoyed McAvoy’s bonkers performance greatly but found it as a whole to be a mixed bag. The melding of the two worlds also fits that description. It’s got everything we expect from Shyamalan, including a twist ending or two. This time around, they land with less impact than earlier efforts.

McAvoy is still impressive, but we’ve seen this show before. Unbreakable set itself up perfectly for a world building sequel. Quite frankly, Glass made me realize I wish it hadn’t taken Split for us to get it. More of the Dunn/Elijah dynamic could have been rewarding without these other personalities in the way. Shyamalan’s personality shines through as always as he tries to overwhelm us with style and suspense. Like Split, the result is some memorable sequences amid numerous questionable ones and not the more cohesive whole that I found Unbreakable to be.

**1/2 (out of four)

Us Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (03/19/19): The upgrade has happened from $48.8 million to $56.8 million

Next weekend we will find out if lightning strikes again for director Jordan Peele with the release of Us. The horror pic is Peele’s eagerly awaited sophomore effort and follow-up to his 2017 debut Get Out. That film rode a cultural wave of excitement and critical raves that resulted in a Best Picture nomination and an Oscar for Peele for his original screenplay.

Perhaps not since M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable (his feature after The Sixth Sense) have we seen a movie that can sold mostly on “from the director of…”. Us centers on a family being terrorized by a brood that appears to be different versions of themselves. The cast includes Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, and Tim Heidecker.

Any fears of a sophomore slump were eliminated this past weekend when Us screened at South by Southwest. Reviews are strong with 100% currently on Rotten Tomatoes. Get Out exceeded opening weekend projections two years ago when it made $33 million for its start and legged out considerably to $176 million.

Us doesn’t have the benefit of unknown expectations. Peele’s name and some seriously effective trailers have prognosticators thinking this will exceed the first weekend of Get Out. Whether it experiences the smallish declines from weekend to weekend is a better question as Us should be more front-loaded with its earnings.

I’ll say mid to high 40s is where this lands with $50 million certainly being a possibility.

Us opening weekend prediction: $56.8 million

January 18-21 Box Office Predictions

The four-day Martin Luther King holiday frame brings just one new release and it’s a big one as M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass debuts. The melding of the director’s past hits Unbreakable and Split looks to achieve January’s second largest debut ever. You can peruse my detailed prediction post for it here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/01/08/glass-box-office-prediction/

While reviews have been mixed at best, I have a hunch Glass could be fairly critic proof (think Venom from a few months back). My low 70s estimate for its Friday to Monday performance easily has it dominating the charts and nabbing the month’s runner-up status as far as all-time openers behind 2015’s American Sniper.

With no new wide releases out, The Upside should fall to second after its better than anticipated premiere (more on that below). Aquaman, A Dog’s Way Home, and SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse should fill out the rest of the top five.

My estimates are as follows and keep in mind they’re for the four days of grosses:

1. Glass

Predicted Gross: $72.1 million

2. The Upside

Predicted Gross: $15.4 million

3. Aquaman

Predicted Gross: $13.8 million

4. A Dog’s Way Home

Predicted Gross: $9.1 million

5. SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse

Predicted Gross: $8.3 million

Box Office Results (January 1113)

As mentioned, The Upside had just what its name suggested. The Kevin Hart/Bryan Cranston comedic drama surprised prognosticators like me with a healthy start of $20.3 million, easily surpassing my $11.6 million projection. It’s further proof of Hart’s potency at the box office and marks the first #1 opening for studio STX Entertainment.

Aquaman was second after three weeks on top with $17.3 million, in line with my $17.7 million prediction. The impressive total stands at $287 million.

A Dog’s Way Home had a so-so start in third with $11.2 million – not quite reaching my guesstimate of $12.8 million.

SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse was fourth and I incorrectly had it outside the top five. The animated superhero tale (fresh off a Golden Globe win for Best Animated Film) made $9 million to bring its tally to $147 million.

Escape Room was close behind in fifth with $8.9 million (I said $9.4 million) for a two-week gross of $32 million.

Mary Poppins Returns fell to sixth with $7.6 million (I went higher with $8.8 million). The Disney sequel has made $151 million.

The Ruth Bader Ginsburg biopic On the Basis of Sex expanded nationwide and placed eighth with $6 million. I went with a little more at $7.9 million.

Finally, the Keanu Reeves sci-fi thriller Replicas bombed badly in 13th with just $2.3 million compared to my take of $3.4 million.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

Glass Box Office Prediction

When it debuts over the MLK four-day holiday weekend, M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass will easily break into the number one spot. Questions about its potential ceiling are very real. The superhero thriller mixes the casts of two of the filmmaker’s best known works – 2000’s Unbreakable and 2017’s Split. That means James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Spencer Treat Clark and Anya-Taylor Joy are along for the ride as well as Sarah Paulson joining this cinematic universe. No other movie opens wide against it.

Just over 18 years ago, Unbreakable was Night’s eagerly anticipated follow-up to his breakthrough smash hit The Sixth Sense. Audiences had a mixed reaction at the time, but it managed a five-day Thanksgiving haul of $46 million before a final domestic gross of $95 million. Its reputation has grown in many circles in time. Two years ago, Split served as a major comeback vehicle for the director with a $40 million start as it legged out to $138 million.

I believe the positive response for Split will earn this impressive results. It only helps that it’s still fresh in the minds of audiences, including the ending that set up this picture. Word-of-mouth will determine the rest.

Glass will not shatter this holiday weekend’s record, which is held by American Sniper at $107 million. Earning the #2 honors over MLK should be a breeze as that’s currently held by Ride Along at $48 million.

Prognostications have this nabbing anywhere between $50-75 million from Friday to Monday. I have a hunch the higher end of that range is the route to go.

*On the eve of its premiere, I’m downgrading from $72.1 million to $58.1 million

Glass opening weekend prediction: $58.1 million (Friday to Monday estimate)

Split Movie Review

Over the past two decades, audiences have witnessed the many personalities of director M. Night Shyamalan in his works. For instance, there’s his previous effort The Visit where I wrote that he seemed to thumbing his nose at both critics and moviegoers based on their disappointment for some of his films. There’s the Shyamalan that was heavily influenced by Spielberg and Hitchcock that contributed to high marks like The Sixth Sense and Signs. We have the comic book aficionado that made Unbreakable pretty special. And there’s whatever was going on his head while writing The Happening and its killer trees and pro hot dog chatter.

With Split, Shyamalan seems in the mode of returning to his former box office glories by throwing in everything that made his blockbusters break through. Not all those traits work, but they’re present in nostalgia inducing manner. There’s the stilted dialogue and characters reacting to dangerous situations that seem off kilter. On the other hand, there are occasional moments of truly well crafted tension. Some of the actors miss the mark, but you wonder if it’s because that’s how Night directed them. Finally, there’s one performance that is pretty awesome to behold and, yes, a major surprise ending that is quite satisfying.

Welcome back to the mixed bag of a world that Shyamalan creates with his pen. Split opens with three teen girls leaving a birthday party. Two of them (Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula) are your typical kids while Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy) is more of an outsider. Quickly into our screen time, they are kidnapped by Dennis (James McAvoy), who locks them in a small yet very clean room as he’s got serious OCD. Then, the trio finds out they were also nabbed by Patricia, a proper sounding English older lady. They were also taken by Hedwig, a shy nine year old boy. There are others as these personalities (23 of them) all live inside the head of McAvoy’s Kevin and Casey and her sort of friends have to figure out a way for one of them to let them out.

The action in Split is not confined to Kevin/Dennis/Patricia/Hedwig’s choice of holding rooms. On the outside, he is mostly Barry, an insecure fashion designer who visits his psychiatrist Dr. Fletcher (Betty Buckley). The doctor is an expert in these types of disorders who believes those suffering from it behold powers that are beyond human. And when Kevin warns of a 24th person in that head called The Beast, Dr. Fletcher’s theories may get a chance to be proven right or wrong.

McAvoy is given the chance to play in a universe that any actor would cherish and he’s impressive. There are scenes when he transitions from person to person that are quite enjoyable to watch. It really is his show, though Casey’s character is given a backstory via flashback that helps flesh out her perspective on everything.

There are times in Split that feel like vintage Shyamalan, but they come in infrequent spurts. My criticism here is simple, other than the dodgy dialogue we’ve come to anticipate even in his finest pictures. Split just really isn’t that scary or suspenseful while you’re watching it. Some of the best parts are when the director wants you to laugh… intentionally I think.

I certainly won’t spoil the ending, but I will say that it culminated this otherwise so-so experience with an unexpected surprise. In truth, I’ve thought more about what happened in the last 30 seconds than in the two previous hours and what it could mean in the future. That doesn’t excuse its faults, but at least Night wraps it up on that George Costanza high note.

**1/2 (out of four)

Split Box Office Prediction

The cinematic horror stylings of M. Night Shyamalan returns to theaters next weekend when Split debuts. His latest fright fest stars James McAvoy as a man with multiple personalities who kidnaps three teen girls. Anya Taylor-Joy and Betty Buckley are among the costars acting alongside all of McAvoy’s characters.

Split screened at a couple of film festivals during the fall and early word suggests a return to form for the auteur. The current Rotten Tomatoes score stands at 82%. Of course, Shyamalan’s filmography is a checkered one. He sprinted out of the gate with commercial and critical hits such as The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Signs. Disappointments from critics and audiences would come with Lady in the Water, The Happening, and After Earth. His previous effort, 2015’s The Visit, drew mixed reaction from reviewers and crowds yet it debuted with a better than anticipated $25 million weekend and $65M overall domestic take.

In fact, the smallest first weekend from the director since he’s become a celebrity in his own right remains Lady in the Water at $18 million. I incorrectly predicted The Visit would open under that over one year ago and was proven wrong.

With solid reviews and effective TV spots and trailers, I’ll predict Split gets over that $18 million figure and just shy of $20M.

Split opening weekend prediction: $19.6 million

For my xXx: Return of Xander Cage prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/10/xxx-return-of-xander-cage-box-office-prediction/

For my The Founder prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/11/the-founder-box-office-prediction/

For my 20th Century Women prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/12/20th-century-women-box-office-prediction/

For my The Resurrection of Gavin Stone prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/12/the-resurrection-of-gavin-stone-box-office-prediction/

Top 25 Best Movie Trailers (1990-2015): Nos. 25-21

This evening brings us to a new best of list covering the last 25 years of motion pictures. And this time, instead of the best movies, we’re covering my personal list of greatest movie trailers of the last generation.

Let’s be clear: making this particular list was quite difficult. There are lots of criteria for what makes a brilliant trailer. Frankly, it frequently has little to do nothing with whether or not the finished product is any good. There are movies contained in this list that I was no fan of, but that doesn’t mean its teaser or trailer wasn’t pretty sweet. And the teaser and trailer designation is key. I’m including both on this list. There are some teasers that actually had little to do with the eventual picture. And there are some full trailers that effectively captured how terrific the eventual picture turned out to be.

Obviously this list is all in the eye of the beholder (meaning me) and there are several spectacular ones left off. Here’s just a dozen of them: Spider-Man, Zero Dark Thirty, Man of Steel, The Dark Knight, The Day After Tomorrow, Star Trek, Heat, Guardians of the Galaxy, Pearl Harbor, Fight Club, Kill Bill – Vol. 1, and Suicide Squad. I’m also glad I limited myself to the past 25 years because there’s some of the best ever prior to that period – namely Psycho, Alien, and The Shining.

As is typical with these lists, I’ll count down from 25 to 1 in five part installments every day. Here we go:

25. Taken (2008)

It’s not often you can say that one trailer spawned a film franchise, but Taken did just that with its trailer focusing on that famous Liam Neeson speech to his daughter’s captors.

24. Black Mass (2015)

Johnny Depp had starred in a string of commercial and critical disappointments, but one look at this chilling dinner table trailer and you knew he was back in his element. A likely Oscar nomination may well follow early next year.

23. Unbreakable (2000)

It may be hard to recall now, but Unbreakable was M. Night Shyamalan’s supremely eagerly awaited follow-up to his phenomenon The Sixth Sense. This mysterious trailer raised the bar of expectations and though some would disagree with me, I believe the actual film delivered.

22. Red Eye (2005)

The late Wes Craven’s pic has one of the cleverest trailers on the list. The first portion of it makes it seems like a lame romantic comedy (with Rachel McAdams no less, making that prospect more believable). The sudden tone shift makes you realize what you’re really in for…

21. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

It had been 30 years since director George Miller was behind the camera for this franchise and legitimate doubts persisted whether his reboot that replaced Mel Gibson with Tom Hardy would work. Once the first trailer hit, there was little doubt at all in this visually breathtaking work.

We will get to numbers 20-16 tomorrow, folks!