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“Glass” Cracks With Confounding Comic Book Story

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Glass continues to prove a theory that writer/director M. Night Shyamalan is most at home when in the genre of horror thrillers. I say this as I regard his best films to be both Unbreakable and Split, despite both their endings featuring the Shyamalan hallmark of tricking the audience into watching the origins of a comic book movie. Now he ties these two films together in his ultimate crossover event. But while the first two films of this apparent trilogy had a brilliant build-up of terror, Glass goes full comic book mode, charging into the popular genre of the decade with scattershot commentary, more content to reference than reap.

All the players are assembled. Bruce Willis is back as David Dunn, trying to be the secret street hero of the super-strong figure The Overseer, with his son helping out on the tech side. Samuel L. Jackson returns to the role of Elijah, the man with fragile bones and a devilishly smart intellect, eager to push the narrative of heroes and villains that he prefers to be called Mr. Glass. And then there’s the latest addition to the circle of oddities, the split-personalities of Kevin, reprised by James McAvoy after his debut in 2016’s Split. Though all three play a key role in the events that follow, it’s ultimately McAvoy who steals the show for being so comfy in his role and having literally more character than Willis and Jackson who have to seriously dust off these roles after so long.

The story finds the three superpowered men being held in a correctional facility, under the watch of the intrigued and emotional Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson). Convinced that there’s a rational explanation for the supernatural powers, Staple tries to convince the three men that they’ve become delusional with their abilities. This could be an interesting dynamic for the picture, where we’re not fully aware of how truthful these superheroes or supervillains are. But Mr. Glass knows better, acting as the M. Night of the picture who is not only aware of the realism in their abilities but can see every twist coming, even the third-act left-field reveal that comes off more standard than it should.

Per the Shyamalan method, the film starts off with great ideas and ultimately peters out by retreating to the twistedly ludicrous. That sense of screenwriting insanity usually makes his films a hoot but this time there’s a mundanity to it all, presenting a last-minute villain addition that feels more lazy than shocking. Perhaps the most perplexing aspect is how clunkily Shyamalan weaves in the elements of comic book culture that inspire both Mr. Glass and the plot itself. Both Glass and Staple continue spouting comic book tropes and lore like they’re on an episode of The Big Bang Theory, trying to out-nerd each other in their understandings of origins and limited editions. Always trying to keep things subversive, Shyamalan’s script refuses to take sides or say anything all that complete about the subject, merely shrugging his shoulders by the climax and tossing in a three-way battle of deeply disturbed men. One thing I can say for sure is that a handful of comic book fans are going to be deeply disappointed with the film not delivering the one scene the script constantly promises.

While Glass does present a new sort of film from Shyamalan, it’s ultimately a middling one that never builds up to anything as interesting as its characters. We never get a grander sense of The Overseer’s vigilantism, an intriguing theory from Glass, or even as many clever conversations with Kevin, aka The Horde. All are entirely beholden to the farfetched plot which has all been orchestrated by villain masterminds, doling out a cartoonish salvo of traps and surprises, many of which are yanked out of thin air. The manner in which this film settles for its comic book world without presenting anything all that new or insightful from the current crop of superhero cinema is enough to make one nostalgic for the more laughable twists of Shyamalan’s previous pictures.


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“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.


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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.


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Review: “Captain Marvel” is a Solidly Sensational Sci-Fi Adventure

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Captain Marvel joins the ranks of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a much different way. She slides into the MCU via a twisty sci-fi adventure of the 1990s, before the Avengers were formed. And though the film does serve as a strong bridge picture that answers a few more questions about the Marvel universe, the film quickly becomes its own thing and gives its hero a real identity as the powerful addition to the superhero ensemble.

Brie Larson plays Carol Danvers, a woman not sure if she’s a human pilot of Earth or a soldier of the Kree empire’s Starforce. There’s little time to explore these conflicting visions she’s having when there’s special energy powers to control and a war being waged against the shape-shifting Skrull alien creatures. A detour to 1990s Earth gives her a bit of time to find out more while also hunting down some more Skrulls, leading to some interesting scenarios when combatting aliens that could look like old ladies.

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) ..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

Carol’s landing on Earth leads to treading down familiar Marvel timeline territory as well as evoking plenty of dated 1990s bits. What started drawing me into the picture was how the film holds itself back from the obvious. The 1990s setting is used for some gags of video stores and Windows 95, sure, but never goes the extra mile of becoming an aggravating reference fest, keeping a certain vibe the way Guardians of the Galaxy embraced the 1970s and 1980s. And just like that film, there’s a nostalgic soundtrack to boot, with choice tracks for just the right cue.

Samuel L. Jackson pops up in the film as a younger Nick Fury with his two eyes still intact. He teams up with Carol in her intergalactic spy adventure and thankfully never goes to the booming lengths he was known for that decade. And the filmmakers could have easily made this younger Fury go full Die Hard 3 or Pulp Fiction but he never does, always keeping that cool persona he has been known for in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..L to R: Att-Lass (Algenis Perez Soto), Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and Minn-Erva (Gemma Chan)..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

But the one aspect that is never shunned and built up grandly is the aspect of female empowerment. Danvers is established as a woman who doesn’t have a clear identity or mindful nature of galactic politics and has to build herself up when she realizes she may be a very powerful pawn in a big game of intergalactic chess. Her memories are that of always being told to back off from non-traditional activities for girls and, sure enough, she rises up to become the smirking and energy-shooting hero when the final piece of her character puzzle is pieced together. It’s just unfortunate that the film spends so much time doing the building amid a twisty sci-fi spy story that Brie never gets a moment to shine as brightly as she could, despite a very enthusiastic third-act closer.

If we’re being blunt, no, Captain Marvel doesn’t quite have the same gravity to be a cultural milestone of a comic book movie. Where others have pointed to Black Panther as not the first the most insightful and cultural of black-led superhero movies, I doubt many will look towards Captain Marvel as the grandest of female-led comic book movies, making its motives known with the power and subtlety of a supernova. But, in terms of what the film is aiming towards, it doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone and that’s perhaps the point. I just wish that Captain Marvel’s astounding powers to destroy starships and aliens had a much bigger punch for a picture that wants to obliterate the glass ceiling and merely cuts a narrow hole within the MCU. It’s a nice hole, mind you, and still weaves a capable and compelling sci-fi adventure with a surprisingly more engaging finale than most Marvel solos.


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