January has few new releases coming to theaters, but arguably the biggest is M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass. The culmination of a trilogy that began with 2000’s Unbreakable, Glass is one of the most anticipated movies of the first part of the year. Both Unbreakable and its sequel Split have received favorable reviews from audiences and critics. Is there any reason to worry Glass will not do as well? The answer is a resounding, “Yes!” and Shyamalan has no one to blame but himself.
Shyamalan’s directorial career kicked into high gear after the iconic The Sixth Sense was released in 1999. Its memorable twist ending made “I see dead people” a meme before they even had a chance to become dank. Almost overnight (in Hollywood terms) Shyamalan was an sensation whose name would forever be associated with the twist ending.
Unfortunately, Shyamalan would lean into this style of storytelling. The director seemed more concern with ending his movies on a shocking twist instead of making good films. Signs was released in 2002 to mostly positive reviews. It is one of Shyamalan’s most straightforward movies (the aliens’ weakness to water is as much a twist as it is the story coming full circle). Whether you consider the ending a twist a great bit of storytelling, there is one certainty: the movie was not as well received as The Sixth Sense.
The Village hit theaters in 2004 and was even less popular with audiences and critics. By this time, the twist ending had become a Shyamalan trademark. Ironically, this took all of the tension out of the movie since those who did not guess what the ending was knew something unexpected was coming. The movie was very polarizing and was the beginning of the backlash towards the once revered director.
By the time The Happening was released in 2008, Shyamalan’s reputation for twist endings was a joke. It had become clear that the director was a one trick pony. Even worse, The Happening was a bad movie. Wooden acting, poor dialogue (including a line when a science teacher tells an inquisitive child that, “some things just can’t be explained”), poor pacing were added to – you guessed it – a nonsensical twist ending.
This was the end of the line for fans who had given the director every possible chance to prove The Sixth Sense was not a fluke. After almost a decade, it was clear Shyamalan was content with making little changes to his formula. Occasionally, a movie like The Visit will come out and people will tell you that Shyamalan is not all that bad, but movies like The Last Airbender and After Earth prove that Shyamalan is more lucky than he is good.
This brings us to the “Eastrail 177” trilogy. Split was met with positive feedback from fans and critics and the surprise connection to Unbreakable made fans even more excited. Glass is one of the most anticipated movies of the year as audiences wait to see the conclusion to the series. Audiences will probably flock to theaters to see a movie that is more likely to disappoint as it is to impress.
Almost two decades after its initial release Unbreakable gets a pass for what can be generously called an mediocre movie. The slow pacing and telegraphed ending take away from any excitement the movie may have had. Samuel L. Jackson’s memorable monologue is ruined by one of the silliest lines in movie history. The abrupt ending complete with tacked on text leave the audience unsatisfied. Revisionist history may have deemed the movie a classic superhero movie, but an objective viewing shows its flaws.
It is not a risk to predict that Glass will be the highest grossing movie of January. It is a risk to assume it will be a good movie, however. M. Night Shyamalan has shown a lack of consistency in making good movies and I would prefer not to be disappointed again.