Monday, February 04, 2019

The Eastrail 177 Trilogy

M. Night Shyamalan's shows tend to be a hit and miss for me. The hits are brilliant, and the misses are pathetic. Grinned when I read the review of the film written by Anthony Lane in January 28 issue of The New Yorker. Titled '“Glass,” the Last Piece of M. Night Shyamalan’s Superhero Puzzle', it accurately reflected what I thought of the final installment in this film trilogy of 'Eastrail 177'. Hurhurhur.

The film trilogy began almost two decades ago in 2000 with 'Unbreakable', then 'Split' (2016), and now finally in 2018, 'Glass'. This is some crazy wait for a trilogy to be completed. Well, not that I was waiting. The individual shows could be watched on their own, but to watch it again in its entirety, one begins to pick at the details and draw them out, like how the director is fixated with origin stories and sometimes, I really don't care. (Reviews contain spoilers herehere and here.) 


From the outset of the trilogy, Shyamalan has been obsessed with how and why people become superheroes, and the new film is stiff with origin stories; as kryptonite is to Superman, for instance, water is to Dunn, because he once nearly drowned as a kid. What’s more perplexing about superheroism, though, and what Shyamalan barely touches upon, is the mad persistence of our communal craving for it—movie after movie, on an ever-vaster scale. Indeed, viewers weaned on the “Avengers” saga will consider the feats of the heroes in “Glass” to be distinctly non-super. Near the end, as footage of the Beast lifting up one side of a van goes viral, we see ordinary citizens gazing at their phones in wonder. Really? Wouldn’t they assume that the image was digitally tweaked, or taken from an old show called “Philly’s Strongest Man”? Wouldn’t they shrug and move on, without so much as a WTF?

I like the actors- Samuel L Jackson (as Elijah Price, 'Mr Glass'), Bruce Willis (as David Dunn) and the brilliant James McAvoy (as Kevin Wendell, 'the Beast'). The first two films were quite brilliant, and I enjoyed it very much. I felt that 'Glass' didn't match up to what I expect of a finale. Sure, it is what it is, and it's conclusively the end, but I still don't like it. There're superhero moments and superhero strength, and everything was done subtly- no big budget explosions, world destruction and such. Also, this entire finale can be re-titled 'Prison Break: the Superhero Edition'.

You have to admire Shyamalan’s efforts to deconstruct a genre that he evidently loves, yet there is just so little to haunt or to fool us in the result, and a few sharp laughs might have helped his cause. To be honest, I would trade the whole trilogy for the Beast—not McAvoy’s but another one, which prowls through “What We Do in the Shadows” (2014), spoken of with fear and trembling. At last the Beast appears, in dreadful majesty, and turns out to be someone’s ex-girlfriend, named Pauline. Aaargh.

No comments: