‘Glass’ Reviews: M. Night Shyamalan Doesn’t Care What the Critics Say
And why he turned down a bigger budget.
Is Glass a good movie? According to early reviews (including ours) the answer is no. The movie currently has a 38 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, but writer and director M. Night Shyamalan says he’s no longer concerned about the early critical reception his movies get.
Shyamalan answered questions at an early screening of Glass on Saturday as part of a marathon screening of the full Eastrail 177 Trilogy — which also includes Unbreakable (2000) and Split (2017) — attended by Inverse. He didn’t discuss these negative reviews directly, instead touching on the similar response Unbreakable received almost two decades earlier.
“When Unbreakable came out it wasn’t received well I was just super hurt,” Shyamalan said. “I guess I was just confused and hurt because I was you know, in my mind I felt like I was doing something that felt good and I was really trying to push the envelope.”
If anything, Unbreakable was ahead of its time, offering a fresh take on the superhero genre before it was even established. The film also had the misfortune of following Sixth Sense, arguably Shyamalan’s best work, which confused fans who were expecting another scary movie starring Bruce Willis.
“The idea of like doing a comic book movie but doing it super grounded as almost like a drama felt important,” he said, “and yet that wasn’t what happened. What happened was it was dissonant and people didn’t know how to take it.”
It also didn’t help that the studio refused to market Unbreakable as a superhero movie.
Shyamalan recalls one studio executive telling him that comic book movies were “just for those people that go to those conventions.”
At the time, Shyamalan responded: “Really? Oh, maybe I’m just weird.”
Fast forward 19 years and superhero movies are no longer niche. They’re the dominant force in mainstream entertainment. So what does it mean if Glass is just as poorly received as Unbreakable?
Maybe Shyamalan is just ahead of the curve yet again.
“I really enjoy fucking with genre,” he said. “That’s what drives me, and I should be okay if when I’m making something that’s weird that it doesn’t land on the day that I should be courageous.”
He added that while Unbreakable wasn’t well received at launch, it’s reputation improved over time.
“This was not in my head,” he said. “This was not connecting. Everyone needed a moment to get there and if I want to call myself an artist I have to be able to handle that.”
Then again, maybe the problem with Glass was self-inflicted. The movie constantly promises an epic showdown and never truly delivers. This might be a thematic decision, but there’s clearly also a financial reason why Glass doesn’t feature a big-budget finale to rival Marvel.
“I’m making smaller movies now,” Shyamalan said. “Both the studios, Disney and Universal, offered any amount of money to make this movie and I said that we’re going to make it the same we made Unbreakable, on a small budget.”
Glass is playing in theaters now.