Thursday, January 31, 2019

Escape Room / Glass

Fear not, faceless reader- for I am still maintaining my blog as I reset my personal and professional priorities. The last few years have seen some great changes for your ranting typist with a penchant for the over statement, but I’m still here and still watching, reading, and experiencing things that I feel the need to rant about.
No, my dear faceless readers, I am not going to turn to politics, religion, or any sort of deep introspection on how we can improve our lives. I have facebook, twitter, and all sorts of other social media for that nonsense which is really none of your concern and of absolutely no interest to anyone but me and the few who get ornery about such things.
This is about entertainment! And with that, let’s get to it.
It happens more often than not, but this film truly captures the “Well, it wasn’t bad” emotional release I find myself having after many experiences. What elevates the film is that there is some great set design, some spectacular effects, and some truly bland and unimpressive performances. And it’s not the performers that are at fault as much as the script and the direction seems to be to give off as bland a performance as possible. One actress manages to deliver an impressive physical performance, but ultimately falls a little flat. It fails to really capture the emotion needed.
We open “In Media Res”, as a lone man drops into the final room of the puzzle before rewinding the story by a couple of days earlier. Six strangers are invited to participate in an “Escape Room” contest with a $50K prize for the one who is able to solve it. We are introduced to our three primary characters with a prologue sequence, setting up that the other three will not matter or play any important role with the climax of the film. So we know the shy physics nerd, the ruthless stock salesmen, and the alcoholic stock-boy are in for the long haul and we have no real reason to care about the gaming nerd, the Iraqi Veteran, or the blue-collar Miner. And the film sets off the place the right colors in the parameters of the coded box. The mystery plays out- and we are asked to question the motives of Dr. Wootan Yu. And the fact that this is the name of our villain just speaks volumes to the stupidity of the script itself.  With that note, the mystery is fairly obvious- from the very beginning.
But the film is stylistic enough that it’s never really “bad” to watch as much as it’s visually appealing and entertaining throughout. The actors are trying to put more into their performances, but it feels as though the director is holding each of them back with an almost iron grip. As though he’s afraid their charisma may overshadow the spectacular settings or the traps themselves, and it hurts to see that limitation. Tyler Labine feels especially comatose given previous works I’ve seen.
6.5 with a mild recommendation. You won’t be sorry you’ve seen it but it won’t crack a top ten list.
And in this corner we have M. Night Shyamalan’s finale to the trilogy set up more then a decade earlier with “UNBREAKABLE”, shocked with a continuation from “SPLIT”, and set this viewer on pins and needles with anticipation. And I’m going to go on record as saying that M. Night did NOT disappoint!
Regularly excoriated for being self-indulgent and paced at the pouring speed of molasses, the film has seen some brutal reactions from critics and audiences alike. But this is the third part of a trilogy and it acts as the finale to the previous Acts. And it’s a story he wanted to tell- and in the telling, he held me in complete anticipation for the results that were fairly well telegraphed throughout the film but ultimately placed in a way which would turn the story in on itself. Because “Glass” is not just some comic book villain we’re here to jeer and hiss at- he is a world-class mastermind and architect that takes more than a few matters into account and has such a sense of fragility that he necessarily removes his own ego from the equation. It ultimately forces a deep thinker to ask: “What makes a villain?”
8.5 out of 10. I recommend, but with the added advice that you not expect this to be a Superhero Blockbuster film. Nor should you come and expect the breaking down of the tropes one might see in a “Watchmen” or “V for Vendetta” piece, geared to undermine the philosophical views that elevate heroism and exceptionalism. This film takes those to task for the corrupting influences that they truly are. Enjoy this film for what it is, and not what people have come to expect in Superhero movies today.

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