‘Alita: Battle Angel’ Motorball clip to premiere Feb 1 at 6:15 AM in PH

20th Century Fox releases a high-adrenaline clip from the upcoming sci-fi epic action adventure movie “Alita: Battle Angel” where Alita, played by Rosa Salazar tries out for the dangerous motorball sport.

Follow these links for the motorball clip debut: 20th Century Fox PH – FB  and  20thcenturyfoxph YouTube.

With an intro message from producer James Cameron, the Motorball clip features the one obsession that unites the people of Iron City in “Alita: Battle Angel”. Motorball is a gladiatorial sport whose champions are the heroes of an otherwise desperate city. The game takes place on rocket-propelled wheels, as hulking cyborgs fitted with chains, spikes, blades and armor race at 100-mph through the hairpin turns of a trap-filled track designed to damage cyborg parts. Those who win at Motorball not only attain rock star status in Iron City but a chance to ascend to Zalem forever. Producer Jon Landau describes Motorball as “NASCAR meets WWF meets MMA on steroids.”  

Everyone in Iron City watches Motorball. Kids play street Motorball, which is how Alita is first introduced to the sport. Later, with her Berserker body, Alita tries out for the 2nd League – the “minors” of Iron City Motorball. “It’s all new to Alita but she eventually becomes the LeBron James of Motorball,” says Salazar. “I really like that, because the cyborg guys are like, ‘look at all my bells and whistles.’ And she takes them all down.”

Art director Todd Holland became the in-house expert on the fictional sport, expanding from the Manga’s inspiration to come up with scoring and rules. “Motorball is not about shooting into an end goal or a hoop—it’s about possession,” Holland explains. “The longer you’re in possession of the ball, the more points you score.  There are seven person teams, but there is also a more cutthroat version which is everybody pitted against each other, which is what Alita experiences in her tryouts.” 

What Alita believes will just be a low-key audition turns into an all-out, life-or-death chase. Rodriguez had the whole team watch race car movies to inspire the scene’s whiplash camerawork but once things fly off the track, there were no precursors for this kind of action. “The Motorball chase is one of my favorites,” says director Robert Rodriguez. “The action’s already blistering when Motorball is just a game, but things quickly turn from a game to a hunt sequence as the cyborgs try to annihilate Alita.”

“Alita: Battle Angel” opens February 6 in cinemas nationwide from 20th Century Fox.  The movie will be available in 2D, 3D and  3D IMAX screens.

Pre-Valentine romantic film ‘Snow Flower’ features temporary relationship

Calling all hopeless romantics! You’ll surely fall for this Japanese love story, coming out February 6 in cinemas nationwide that spans four beautiful seasons.

This love month, dive into a puddle—no, an ocean of feels with Snow Flower, a Japanese YA movie that is almost too precious for this world. Out on February 6 in time for Valentine’s Day, Snow Flower is about a year in the life of a bright young woman named Miyuki (Ayami Nakajo). The sad truth is, it’s her last year ever, according to her doctor’s prognosis. Just as she’s about to abandon all hope, she meets Yusuke (Hiroomi Tosaka), a kind stranger who would become the love of her life, in wintertime Tokyo.

In a serendipitous turn of events, Miyuki and Yusuke cross paths again six months after their meet cute. Her time running out, Miyuki courageously offers Yusuke a deal: be her boyfriend for one month in exchange for one million yen. Yusuke, whose café workplace desperately needs a financial boost, accepts the offer to continue supporting his younger siblings.

Truly beginning in the summer, their romance is a match #blessed by the universe as the seasons unfold as beautifully as their story. From the cherry blossoms of Tokyo, their love story crosses oceans to the red aurora of Finland. You see, it’s Miyuki’s last wish to witness the rare phenomenon in the winter wonderland where her parents met.

Based on the iconic Japanese winter song “Yuki no Hana” (Snow Flower), this feel-good YA movie will remind you what it truly means to be alive and present in the moment.

Directed by Kojiro Hashimoto and distributed by Axinite Digicinema in the Philippines, it’s a date on February 6, Snow Flower is the movie to catch this love month. 

‘Born Beautiful’ review: Humor is a weapon

Scrappy as it may seem, ‘Born Beautiful’ takes a subversive path to laughs and profundity, making it a light contrast to its predecessor ‘Die Beautiful.’

There’s a broad and raunchy type of humor in Born Beautiful that can be enjoyed on two levels. From a slapstick level, those coming in for an outrageous ‘laugh-out-loud’ time will likely be satisfied, provided they’re not easily offended by the unabashed (yet grounded) vulgarity that this film has. To a profound extent, the viewing experience can be even more rewarding once you realize that the film is way smarter than it seems. It deftly weaponizes humor to tackle a variety of socio-political issues, even touching on the most taboo ones.

Take this one scene for example. In the beginning of the film, Barbs (Martin del Rosario) and her friends rehearse for an upcoming Q&A competition. A character draws out a question and reads, “How many restrooms are there in the Philippines?” It’s a nonsensical question that nevertheless elicits a witty answer. But the recipient interprets it with a deeper meaning and responds with, “Three. One for men, one for women and one for persons with disability.” In that scene alone, the film casually brushes off the suggestion of having a separate CR for the ‘third sex’. It’s an early indication that this film will bear no usual themes of LGBTQ discrimination found in Die Beautiful. This sequel is way past that level now; Born Beautiful promises a brighter and more progressive take of the demographic that it represents.

Martin del Rosario as Barbs Cordero in ‘Born Beautiful.’

In fact, the film basks in the celebration of a transgender’s life: “dare to live, dare to love, dare to be you,” as its tagline says. There are few speed bumps along the way, and I mean speed bumps because the film meanders with a couple of sub-conflicts before it gets down to its prime predicament—an element purposely not shown in the trailer. For the first act, mortuary cosmetologist Barbs Cordero struggles with identity crisis in the wake of her two friends’ deaths. What follows is an eye-opening and brutal ‘gay conversion therapy’ arc that may trigger people with strong religious beliefs. Plotwise, the subplot feels inorganic as we’ve already seen in the first film how self-assured Barbs is with her sexuality. It’s easy to get past that hurdle if this first act is viewed more as a plot device.

By the second act, the issue of polyamorous relationship is brought into light. Barbs finds herself torn between two lovers, each having their own ‘guilty pleasure’ appeals: an abusive tricycle driver Greg (Kiko Matos) and a committed taxi driver Michael Angelo (Akihiro Blanco). The film carefully treads away from the PSA territory by offering no self-righteous solution to the issue at hand. It just shows how polyamorous relationships can work in the LGBTQ community.

Martin del Rosario (Barbs) and Kiko Matos (Greg) in ‘Born Beautiful.’

Originally commissioned as a twelve-episode cable TV series, this five-episode material truncated into a 90-minute full-length feature has its own share of flaws too. The screenplay plays out like a glorified sitcom burdened by pacing problems, occasional lame jokes and under-developed supporting characters. Perci Intalan and his writers steer the franchise to a more radical path, picking a blanket of issues along the way: racism, death penalty, unwanted pregnancy, the cost of beauty (that transcends up to death)—and even an impromptu sex education lesson (courtesy of Chai Fonacier’s delightful character) that otherwise gets heavily bleeped by MTRCB. By doing so, Born Beautiful tackles societal issues not as deeply as it can but rather as many as it can. It’s not the best approach that a film could have, but that should not discount the amount of nobility that this film has.

Martin del Rosario (Barbs) and Akihiro Blanco (Michael Angelo) in ‘Born Beautiful.’

Apart from the makeup transformations, the highlight of this film has to be the much-anticipated cameo appearances of Barbs’ deceased best friend, Trisha (Paolo Ballesteros). It’s a pivotal role to the story but it can be disadvantageous as Ballesteros’ presence reminds us of Die Beautiful’s emotional depth, partly achieved through his excellent lead performance. To put it in BeauCon terms, as the new queen, Del Rosario has big heels to fill. He does a fine job in doing so.

Now comparing Del Rosario’s performance to the acclaimed original portrayer, Christian Bables, the latter might have an edge when it comes to dramatic scenes but visually, Del Rosario makes a more charismatic lead. By the time the film gets to its raunchy intimate scenes, my doubts has been erased as the actor, along with his co-stars Matos and Blanco, shows unwavering commitment to their roles. The rest of the supporting cast are also commendable, with Lou Veloso’s godmother-ish role garnering the audience’s biggest laughs.

Gio Gahol, Martin Del Rosario, and VJ Mendoza in ‘Born Beautiful.’

Amid Born Beautiful’s scattered goals, they do converge towards a greater realization: the heart’s capacity for boundless love. One could have wished for a more affecting redemption upon its abrupt ending. The film closes on a totally different dynamic from where it started, ultimately making it feel like a pilot episode to a more promising aftermath. One can only hope that the full series will be released sooner than later this year.

3.5 out of 5 stars
Directed By Perci Intalan and written by Jun Robles Lana, Rody Vera, Elmer Gatchalian, Ivan Andrew Payawal and Fatrick Tabada, ‘Born Beautiful‘ stars Martin del Rosario, Lou Veloso, Chai Fonacier, Kiko Matos, Akihiro Blanco, Gio Gahol, VJ Mendoza, Jason Barcial, Milo Elmido Jr., Elora Españo, Joey Paras and Jojit Lorenzo. With a special participation of Paolo Ballesteros. Run time: 95 minutes.

‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ swings back to IMAX cinemas in PH

Fresh from receiving a nomination for Best Animated Feature at this year’s Academy Awards, Columbia Pictures’ Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse will swing back to IMAX cinemas in the Philippines starting January 26, even as it continues its heroic run at regular theaters nationwide.

This gives fans the chance to watch the Golden Globe Best Motion Picture – Animation winner in the biggest screen possible, making the Spider-Verse truly immersive.

The Oscar nomination of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse follows its phenomenal record at the awards circuit, winning a slew of Best Animated Feature honors from prestigious critics’ groups (New York Film Critics Circle and Los Angeles Film Critics Association among others) and the frontrunner to win in the upcoming British Academy Awards.

READ MORE: Movie review on Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the creative minds behind The LEGO Movie and 21 Jump Street, bring their unique talents to a fresh vision of a different Spider-Man Universe, with a groundbreaking visual style that’s the first of its kind. Spider-Man™: Into the Spider-Verse introduces Brooklyn teen Miles Morales, and the limitless possibilities of the Spider-Verse, where more than one can wear the mask.

Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman, the screenplay is by Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman from a story by Phil Lord based on the Marvel Comics. The film is produced by Avi Arad, Amy Pascal, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller and Christina Steinberg. Stan Lee, Brian Michael Bendis and Will Allegra serve as executive producers.

The film features the voices of Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Lily Tomlin, Luna Lauren Velez, Zoë Kravitz, John Mulaney, Kimiko Glenn with Nicolas Cage, Kathryn Hahn and Liev Schreiber.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.

Xian Lim, Louise Delos Reyes paired for the first time via ‘Hanggang Kailan’

What if you had one last trip to be with the person you love before you end your relationship? How do you say goodbye?

VIVA Films, the producer of 100 Tula Para Kay Stella and Sid & Aya (Not a Love Story), in cooperation with BluArt Productions and XL8, continues to redefine the romance genre in Philippine cinema with its special pre-Valentine offering, “Hanggang Kailan?”

Xian Lim and Louise Delos Reyes star as Donnie and Kath, a couple who’s celebrating their second anniversary.  But instead of looking forward to more years together, they agree that this is going to be their last even though they are still very much in love.  

Before they totally go their separate ways, Donnie and Kath take a 4-day/3-night vacation in Saga, Japan.  Amidst picturesque landscapes, new memories will be made, hearts will break. And they’ve always known that this is bound to happen.

Bona Fajardo, the man behind noteworthy films such as I Found My Heart in Santa Fe, Kahit Ayaw Mo Na, and Iliw, is the director that brings this screenplay by Onay Sales to life.  In a past interview, director Fajardo had encouraged audiences to keep watching movies to discover stories to your liking.  “’Pag nagustuhan mo ang sine ituloy-tuloy mo na yan… kung ano ‘yong hinahanap mong ganda, kung anong istorya, nandiyan naman lahat ‘yan, makikita mo ‘yan.”

This is the first time for Xian and Louise to work together.  

Aiming for longevity in show business, the Kapuso-turned-Kapamilya actress says she’s willing to try different roles to keep honing her craft.  On TV, Louise was last seen in Asintado.  Her last movie project was Para sa Broken Hearted  (October 2018).  It’s interesting to see how her  team-up with the Chinito Heartthrob will bring out a side to her that her fans haven’t seen.  

Meanwhile, Xian’s involvement in this movie goes beyond acting. The XL8 mentioned above is his new venture.  Like Louise, Xian is not afraid to try new things.  Last year, he started his basketball career, playing for Mandaluyong El Tigre in MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League).  Around that time, he was also part of the box-office hit movie Miss Granny.  

“Hanggang Kailan?” opens in cinemas on February 6.

‘The Kid Who Would Be King’ review: Fun, friendly retelling of old tale

The Kid Who Would Be King adapts the old tale and excels by the modern cinematic standards of creative story and charm.

The Kid Who Would Be King tells an old tale that meets the modern world. Alex (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) thinks he’s just another nobody until he stumbles upon the mythical Sword in the Stone, Excalibur. He unites his friends and enemies—Bedders (Dean Chaumoo), Lance (Tom Taylor) and Kaye (Rhianna Doris)—into a band of knights and, together with the legendary wizard Merlin/Mertin (Patrick Stewart and Angus Imrie), they take on the wicked enchantress Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson). With the future at stake, Alex must become the great leader he never dreamed he could be.

The legend of King Arthur is one that has been told plenty of times in films, so nobody needs an introduction to the renowned legend of the Sword and the Stone, of Arthur and his roundtable knights.  The Kid Who Would Be King under the direction of Joe Cornish is never far from the original, but it gives us a new reinterpretation of the legend itself. The film revolves around a British school kid, Alex, who rises to greatness and has life lessons that will surely excite the young ones. While adults may find the film repetitive, it put enough clever and sarcastic wit to make it a worthwhile picture for them too.

True to be told, The Kid Who Would Be King is one of the better adaptations of the Arthurian legend. It’s a feel-good family and friendly film that doesn’t take itself too seriously, as many Arthurian adaptations tend to do. It was the best way so that the young generation would get the story more than the adaptions whose more into actions.

The film casts an outstanding bunch of modern British school kids its heroes that fully sets it apart from other recent adaptations of King Arthur. Louis Ashbourne Serkis puts in a performance that would make his father proud, as he plays a good-hearted Alex handling both the intimate emotional scenes as well as the more fantastic elements like a veteran. Dean Chaumoo plays one of the sweetest and perfect friends on film ever to play aside to Louis’ more serious character. Angus Imrie who played Mertin/Merlin on the other hand, steals the show with its exaggerated spell casting arm movements and made a lot of fun in the film so much so that he even overshadows his older self, played by Patrick Stewart

Director Joe Cornish creates a contemporary twist on the story of the old tale. Unlike many adaptations that tend to play up the more fantastical elements of the legends, Cornish does well to keep the story somewhat grounded. He keeps the action light enough for a family audience in a magical adventure providing just enough CGI, chills, laughs and thrills to keep all ages entertained. The climax was one of the best thing for it delivers a delightful school-based battle, uniting the kids on a unique way to post a battle in an old tale set in modern world. The Kid Who Would Be King was simple yet entertaining and got a whole lot of heart with moments of humour that amazes and overwhelms dull moments.

The Kid Who Would Be King is funny and likeable enough with full of inspiration for younger generation. A must watch for the whole family this season.

4 out of 5 stars

The Kid Who Would Be King is written and directed by Joe Cornish and stars Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Dean Chaumoo, Tom Taylor, Rhianna Dorris, Angus Imrie, Rebecca Ferguson and Patrick Stewart. Runtime: 120 minutes

‘A Dog’s Way Home’ explores power of unconditional love

Based on the bestselling novel by the beloved author of A Dog’s Purpose, Columbia Pictures’ A Dog’s Way Home is an emotionally charged and uplifting spiritual odyssey that follows one dog’s journey home that highlights the power of unconditional love between a dog and her owner.

A Dog’s Way Home chronicles the heartwarming adventure of Bella, a dog who embarks on an epic 400-mile journey home after she is separated from her beloved human, Lucas, an aspiring med student and VA hospital volunteer. Bella touches the lives of many during her unwavering quest; from an orphaned mountain lion cub to a homeless veteran down on his luck, Bella brings joy and comfort to everyone she meets with her unique spirit and faith.

“We all have really deep needs for connection, belonging, purpose, safety, expression and autonomy,” says Ashley Judd, who stars in the film.  “In the movie, Bella gets to have her family of choice, which we all have the gift of finding in this life.  We’ve got the families into which we are born, and we get to make a chosen family, and that’s what happens to Bella. When she gets separated from that family, she’s willing to go to extraordinary lengths to be home.  It’s an epic adventure.”

That adventure is based on the bestselling novel by W. Bruce Cameron, who, with his wife, Cathryn Michon, would adapt it into a screenplay.  “This story is about true love,” says Cameron.  “Here’s a dog that goes through so many adventures and trials, and it’s all about getting back to her person.  I think anybody who has had a dog will recognize the unconditional love these animals can give, and will find it in their heart to embrace that message.”

There’s nothing like the bond between dog and person, adds Michon.  “Bella loves many people, but she and her human have a soul bond, and that soul bond is the spiritual story and the heart of this film.”

Bella (Shelby) in Columbia Pictures’ A DOG’S WAY HOME.

The film also Jonah Hauer-King, Edward James Olmos, Alexandra Shipp, Wes Studi and Bryce Dallas Howard as the voice of Bella.

In Philippine cinemas Febryary 6, A Dog’s Way Home is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International. #ADogsWayHome

Liam Neeson’s vengeance fuels hard-pounding action in ‘Cold Pursuit’

Blood in the snow will flow in Liam Neeson’s (known for the highly successful Taken franchise) latest thrilling action film “Cold Pursuit” where he plays Nes Coxman, a snowplough driver  in  Kehoe, a 10 degrees and counting glitzy ski resort in the Rocky Mountains.

Liam Neeson is no stranger to reinvention. But even by his standards, “Cold Pursuit” represents a surprising gear-shift into wicked new territory.  The movie sets the local police in action at the same time who are not used to much action until the son of unassuming town snowplough driver, Nels Coxman is murdered at the order of Viking (Tom Bateman), a flamboyant drug lord. Enraged and armed with heavy machinery, Nels sets out to dismantle the cartel one man at a time, but his understanding of murder comes mainly from what he read in a crime novel. As the bodies pile up, his actions ignite a turf war between Viking and his long-standing rival White Bull (Tom Jackson), a soulful Native-American mafia boss, that will quickly escalate and turn the small town’s bright white slopes blood-red.

There aren’t many actors whose CV include everything from an Oscar-nominated turn in Schindler’s List to a Jedi, a Batman villain, a shady cop made out of Lego and a talking Lion. But then, Liam Neeson isn’t like many other actors.  With an astonishing 126 credits to his name, the 66-year-old famously saw himself unwittingly reinvented as an action star a decade ago, with his starring role as Bryan Mills in the huge global smash that was TAKEN. But while that movie’s plot, of a father out for revenge against the men who have put his offspring in danger, may sound like it shares some DNA with that of Cold Pursuit, the latter sees him deliver a performance unlike any in his already storied career.

“On the one level, Cold Pursuit is a great, classic revenge thriller,” says Neeson. “But what was really appealing to me was the dark undercurrent of humour that runs through it.” Or, as his director, Hans Petter Moland puts it: “Basically, this is Liam Neeson like you’ve never seen him before. It’s a very special, unique performance.” 

Catch “Cold Pursuit” when it opens in cinemas on February 13 nationwide from Axinite Digicinema.

Goku, Vegeta face off against legendary Super Saiyan in ‘Dragon Ball Super: Broly’

The most anticipated and latest in the anime action Dragon Ball franchise starts January 30  as “Dragon Ball Super: Broly” opens exclusively in SM Cinemas.

“Dragon Ball Super: Broly” is a new legend penned by Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama, the first film in the new Super series, and the 20th anniversary film. Because of this bounty of importance, the production style of this film can best be summed up in Director Nagamine’s words: “If Goku has undergone an upgrade, then the visuals must be upgraded as well.” If Goku will always love to fight and become stronger, we need to think outside the box and create a contemporary, highquality Dragon Ball worthy of him. In other words, the stronger Goku gets, the harder we must work to express that evolution. The evolution displayed in Dragon Ball Super: Broly is not just a memorial to over 30 years of legendary titles, but also a challenge to depart from the films that came before it.

As this is the first Super film, we’ve also refreshed the character designs from the TV series. Mr. Iyoku at Shueisha’s “Dragon Ball Unit” proposed a challenge to us to renew the animation and character design because the drawing style of the creator of Dragon Ball, Toriyama himself, has also changed. Toriyama believes the new designs represent “the Dragon Ball of today,” and their shade is similar to the original manga’s. Aiming for that kind of animation, we held elaborate auditions for animators at Toei Animation.

Naohiro Shintani was handpicked by Toriyama himself to create these new designs based on the flavor of the original manga. Upon inking the model sheets, he received the nod from Toriyama on the first draft without having to do any retakes. What characterizes Shintani’s renewed designs is that they have a slim silhouette when compared with the previous designs. You could call them contemporary, but they also achieve the feeling of a fine balance that is closer to the original manga than previous anime designs. Upon observing the animation for the previous series, Shintani said, “I like the designs that director of key animation Minoru Maeda did for the original Dragon Ball TV anime, so I thought it would be nice if I could bring out Maeda’s nuances like his soft touch and expressions when I drew them.” This comes out in the character model sheets, but please look for this sensitive expression in the film as well.

A 20th Century Fox presentation, “Dragon Ball Super: Broly” opens in the following cinemas on January 30:  SM North EDSA, SM Megamall, SM Mall of Asia, SM Manila, SM Fairview, SM Sta. Mesa, SM Marikina, SM East Ortigas, SM San Lazaro, SM Southmall, SM Bacoor, SM Cebu, SM Seaside Cebu, SM Iloilo, SM Cauayan, SM Clark, SM Pampanga, SM Cabanatuan, SM BF, SM Dasmarinas, SM Davao, SM Lanang, SM Cagayan De Oro Downtown, SM Telasbastagan and SM Legazpi.

Check 20th Century Fox (Philippines) and SM Cinemas Facebook pages for the latest cinema list. 

‘Glass’ review: Bold antithesis to superhero genre

Glass subverts your expectations enough to make it a bold antithesis to the superhero genre.

Nobody foresaw the “Eastrail 177 trilogy” coming into life until the closing credits of the psychological horror thriller Split, which revealed itself to be a standalone sequel to the 2000 superhero-thriller Unbreakable. It’s a brilliant move for M. Night Shyamalan’s filmmaking career —now fans of either film will flock to see how it all ends up in Glass, easily making this as one of the most highly-anticipated films of the year.

That being said, Glass works best as a sequel to Unbreakable. To be fair, Split feels like the disconnected tissue of the franchise (which aptly fits considering it tackles Dissociative Identity Disorder [DID]). If Unbreakable is a character study of an everyday man coming to terms with his amazing gift of super-strength and precognition abilities, Glass puts the said hero into action. Dubbed as ‘The Overseer,’ David Dunn (Bruce Willis) of the first film now runs a home security store but secretly pursues a vigilante life with the aid of his son Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark). The father-son relationship remains to be the strongest emotional core here and one could have wished for a more fleshed out dynamic, or perhaps just a larger arc for David. Nevertheless, Willis delivers a wise and grounded performance to successfully revitalize a character from 19 years ago.

Bruce Willis reprises his role, David Dunn in ‘Glass.’

However, it is Split’s Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy) a.k.a. The Horde with 24 different personalities, who actually takes the center stage for the most part. Kevin is back at it again with kidnapping and murdering teenage girls while McAvoy once again astounds in a role that is designed to showcase his tenacious commitment and powerhouse act. Glass features other personalities that weren’t featured in Split but I must say that he still delivers best as the sinister Patricia. The film wastes no time in pitting Kevin against David and the plot leads you to believe that this will be a classic hero vs. villain story. But director/writer M. Night Shyamalan pulls the rug out of you by the third act (more of that later).

James McAvoy (Kevin) and Anya Taylor-Joy (Casey) in ‘Glass.’

It is only halfway through where the film’s namesake, Elijah Price a.k.a. Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson), is reintroduced. Last time we heard of him, he’s locked away in a mental institution, harmless and heavily sedated, as it appears to be. A new character, Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) steps up and puts David and Kevin in the same facility. At the moment, it may seem like a counterintuitive decision. It’s only a matter of time before Mr. Glass’ insanely intelligent mind can formulate an escape plan or who-knows-whatever-nefarious scheme he has been concocting for years now.

Samuel L. Jackson plays the titular character in ‘Glass.’

By the second half, a mood swing occurs and this is where the plot starts to get meandering—but never boring, mind you. Dr. Ellie aims to convince them that their abilities are not supernatural but rather delusions of grandeur. It weakly pokes the viewer’s stance, especially after we’ve seen Kevin crawling on the ceiling earlier—clearly there’s something up her sleeve. And so what follows are intellectual banters, heavy-handed expositions and comic book meta-references. Shyamalan keeps us hooked with seamlessly incorporated deleted scenes from Unbreakable to reinforce the idea that their superhuman identities are forged in traumas. His excellent shot composition also assigns color motif fit for each character’s psyche and mood.

Sarah Paulson as psychiatrist Dr. Ellie Kemper in ‘Glass.’

Glass operates in a smaller budget and those looking for bombastic tentpole action sequences will be disappointed. The staging of the climactic battle looks and feels nothing like Marvel and DC and I for one am glad that it does not go to that route. Shyamalan has proven to be an ambitious filmmaker and while the risks he takes don’t always pay off —like when Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy) suddenly warms up towards her former captor Kevin (a faulty case of stockholm syndrome)—the director can be commended for having the audacity to do something different in the comic-book mythology. Obviously, there’s no clear road map of this trilogy 19 years ago. Hence, he opted for a more on-the-nose execution here to make sure that audiences are picking up with the singular vision he has in store.

A mass murderer (Samuel L. Jackson), a cannibal monster (James McAvoy) and an unlikely superhero (Bruce Willis) are locked up in an asylum in ‘Glass.’

Much of your ultimate liking for Glass boils down on its third act filled with shocking twists, one after another. Personally, I think it ends in a phenomenal fashion: what starts out to be a grounded superhero thriller film mostly shot in a claustrophobic hospital winds up on a shocking scope that might just outsmart any other superhero origin film. It’s not a desirable conclusion that will please most viewers but it’s the ending that fits well with Shyamalan’s vision. For that, I am deeply satisfied.

4 out of 5 stars
Directed and written by M. Night Shyamalan, ‘Glass‘ stars James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Sarah Paulson, Anya Taylor-Joy, Spencer Treat Clark and Charlayne Woodard. Run time: 129 minutes.