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Worlds collide in tense, twisty fantasy

By: - Writing Editor
/ 12:10 AM January 23, 2019

Samuel L. Jackson in “Glass”

M. Night Shyamalan conjures up a comic book-inspired story that ties together three different superbeings from his two films, 2000’s “Unbreakable” and 2016’s “Split.” And while it takes time to get to the truly riveting parts, the sequel “Glass” makes sense of, and fleshes out, the worlds presented in both films.

If you found “Unbreakable” to be merely satisfactory, then “Glass” is the long-awaited chapter that expounds on its mythology, as it finally answers dangling questions that were left unasked all those years ago.

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David Dunn, aka The Overseer (Bruce Willis), is back, fully embracing his vigilante ways, tracking criminals in his trademark hooded raincoat and keeping crime victims avenged.

Still at large, however, is the serial killer with multiple personalities, Kevin Crumb, monikered The Horde (James McAvoy), who abducts a quartet of cheerleaders.

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Meanwhile, Elijah Price, or Dunn’s foe, Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson), is in a mental hospital, rendered harmless due to his fragile bone condition.

Bruce Willis reprises his role from “Unbreakable.”

Tasked with convincing them that they’re merely being delusional, the hospital’s high-ranking doctor, Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson), hopes to “deprogram” them, and the people closest to the superhumans: Mrs. Price (Charlayne Woodard), devoted mother of Glass; Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark), David’s son and crime researcher; and Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy), who has developed a weirder than usual Stockholm syndrome towards The Horde.

It’s a formidable ensemble, as Willis is characteristically stoic, McAvoy amusingly chews scenery and Jackson is typically badass without doing much. Paulson, as their neutral, powerless adversary, is a nicely infuriating addition.

Shyamalan’s story about myth-making humans is praiseworthy, and for the most part, his nearly airtight script manages to create a sense of mystery and wonder.

The pacing, however, makes the proceedings feel disjointed sometimes. It isn’t subtle about dropping hints either, lingering on scenes that you just know will be important later.

Despite its flaws, “Glass” feels more like a complete story than its two predecessors, grand and imaginative in its examination of human potential.

Sarah Paulson plays a new character.

Tops box office

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Shyamalan scored his fifth No. 1 movie, as the director’s “Glass,” while not quite the blockbuster some expected, nevertheless dominated the Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) holiday weekend at the box office with $40.6 million in ticket sales according to studio estimates on Sunday.

Universal Pictures predicted that “Glass” will make about $47 million over the four-day holiday weekend.

Some industry forecasts had gone as high as $75 million over four days. But poor reviews took some of the momentum away from “Glass,” Shyamalan’s final entry in a trilogy begun with 2000’s “Unbreakable” and followed up with 2017’s “Split.”

Shyamalan’s film registered a 35 percent “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences also gave it a B Cinema Score.

Yet the result still proved the renewed draw of Shyamalan, the “Sixth Sense” filmmaker synonymous with supernatural thrillers and unpredictable plot twists.

“Split,” which greatly overshot expectations with a $40 million opening and $278.5 million worldwide, signaled his return as a box-office force, now teamed up with horror factory Blumhouse Productions.

Shyamalan, himself, put up the film’s approximately $20 million budget.

James McAvoy plays his “Split” villain anew.

Jim Orr, president of domestic distribution for Universal, said any forecasts beyond how “Glass” performed were out of whack with the studio’s own expectations. Orr granted that better reviews might have meant a larger return and that the winter storm across the Midwest and Northeast may have dampened results.

But he said Universal was thrilled with the results. The four-day total ranks “Glass” as the third best MLK weekend opening ever, behind only “American Sniper” ($107.2 million) and “Ride Along” ($48.6 million). “Glass” also picked up $48.5 million overseas, where Disney had distribution rights.

The top 10 movies are:

1. “Glass,” $40.6 million ($48.5 million international).
2. “The Upside,” $15.7 million.
3. “Aquaman,” $10.3 million ($14.3 million international).
4. “Dragon Ball Super: Broly,” $8.7 million ($5.3 million international).
5. “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” $7.3 million.
6. “A Dog’s Way Home,” $7.1 million ($2.8 million international).
7. “Escape Room,” $5.3 million ($9.5 million international).
8. “Mary Poppins Returns,” $5.2 million ($6 million international).
9. “Bumblebee,” $4.7 million ($20.9 million international).
10. “On the Basis of Sex,” $4 million. —AP

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