I have a confession to make. The reason I went to go see Glass was not because I loved Unbreakable, even though I did. I didn’t see it because I love M. Night Shyamalan. His record has been a bit spotty as of late. I didn’t see it because I’ve loved Bruce Willis in everything since Moonlighting. I went to see it because the critics panned it, but on Rotten Tomatoes, despite the critical reviews, 96% of fans still wanted to see it.
The movie started slow, and I expected another Shyamalan clunker. I never saw Split. I didn’t even know it existed until this movie trailer dropped. I had to ask my husband for an explanation of the plot and storyline of that movie so I could approach this one more well informed. But something happened–something that happens to a lot of comic book/scifi/fantasy fans–I connected to the genre.
This is a seriously thought invoking film, if you like comics. If you get past all the things that seem implausible–things that go along with what we know as “normal procedure” in the real world– it all comes together toward the end of the film. What emerges is a reflection of values in the stories we loved seeing inside of comic books.
It’s not an epic movie. It doesn’t have lots of twists, but it’s not a clunker. It doesn’t have the surprise ending you might expect in a Shyamalan movie. But… if you think deeply about it–in two movies MLS has been telling you there is an equal an opposite to every super hero/villain that appears–you’ll be expecting another movie. Mr. Glass has his opposite in Unbreakable, but no opposite to the Beast has ever been seen. If the Beast is a scitzo evil doer, there must be a very focused do-gooder out there to balance him. (My husband says it’s Richard Simmons). The fact that we stood around to talk about what and who that person might be after the movie, lingering in the theater and outside of it, talking about the clues and how things tied together, is the sign of a good story. And that’s what we’ve been asking for, right? Isn’t that what everyone wants?
So why did the critics hate it?
Scifi, or speculative fiction to tie it together with comic books, as I’ve mentioned before, has a long history of being snubbed by critics and embraced by the public. Star Wars was the first big scifi film to be nominated by the Academy for best film. Even in 1978, Critics were split on Star Wars, but couldn’t overcome the massive popularity of the film. But it didn’t win best film in 1978. Do you know what did win? Annie Hall. Have you ever seen that movie? I haven’t. Do you know a single person who has seen it? Do you know a single person who HASN’T seen Star Wars?
The Academy has been out of touch with the public for at least 50 years, but they still stand as a battlement guarding the dinosaur entertainment industry and their insular bubble, of which critics seem to be a part. Science Fiction continues to be massively popular and the Academy continues to snub it. The Martian was so popular that it couldn’t be ignored. But it didn’t win. Even if it had, it wasn’t in the top five best selling movies of 2015. Reviewing the best selling movies of 2016 you’d wonder where the Academy was and why they weren’t watching the same movies the public was.
Look at the top selling movies in the last few years and it’s pretty clear that the public loves scifi and comic book movies.
So what gives?
The problem with this split between critics in Hollywood and the fans that watch the movies (and love them) seems to be reflected in everything from video games to politics. Every critic, like so many commentators on public life, the elites in Hollywood, DC and New York, seem to be stuck in a bubble they can’t see out of. The movies we love come out of this bubble, so why do they stay in it if everything inside is so horrible?
I can’t figure that out. All I know is if I see a movie that has a low critic score, if I hear about a movie that any pocket of elites sneer about, I’m probably going to go see it, just out of curiosity.