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Glass

‘Glass’ is the latest film from prolific director M. Night Shyamalan. He’s had an uneven career with plenty of misses among the hits. His most recent film ‘Split’ was in the latter as it revealed itself to be a sequel to his 2000 success ‘Unbreakable’. ‘Glass’ is the third in this series, making for an unusual superhero franchise. ‘Glass’ confirms Shyamalan’s status as a risk-taker which is to be admired in this era of cinematic mediocrity.

Former cop turned unlikely superhero David Dunn (Bruce Willis) is battling his latest foe Kevin Crumb (James McAvoy). A dangerous criminal with a multitude of personalities, Crumb’s insidious presence is one David finds difficult to erase. Also causing David headaches is old nemesis Elijah Price (Samuel L Jackson) who holds the key to unravelling the secrets binding all three together.

Heavily steeped in comic-book lore, ‘Glass’ is very much a product of one who grew up reading them. Shyamalan is clearly a fan as he ticks of the usual tropes of the genre with the line between heroism and villainy blurred. Like his best films, Shyamalan has fun with the material and knows how to pace the story so it slowly unfurls in an intriguing manner. Price’s nefarious plans and Crumb and David’s part ensure the attention is held until an unexpected finale.

None of this would work without fine performances. When he feels like it, Willis can be a good actor as can Jackson. The one receiving top billing is McAvoy who, like most roles he does, dives into his performance with gusto. He embodies the terrifying menace of his character well with his unpredictability keeping things on their toes. Some moments feel contrived but Shyamalan’s script generally shows thought has been put into crafting an arresting story.

Even though he’s done some admittedly terrible films, ‘Glass’ show Shyamalan still has talent. If he stays away from the self-indulgence affecting his lesser work then he has the promise of delivering further solid films such as this one. Not all heroes or villains wear capes as ‘Glass’ proves and provides a refreshing antidote to other films full of virtuous muscle-bound saviours.

Rating out of 10: 7

Aquaman

First appearing in DC Comics in 1941, ‘Aquaman’ has been a quiet comic-book achiever. Whilst not as widely known as Batman or Superman, Aquaman’s longevity points to garnering his own loyal comic book fans. After appearing in ‘Batman v Superman’ and ‘Justice League’, ‘Aquaman’ receives his first solo cinematic outing. It’s as spectacular as expected with the CGI working overtime to bring Aquaman’s water-filled world to fluid life.

Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) is the son of a human and the Princess of Atlantis. Swimming the vast expanses of the underwater empire, Arthur gradually becomes a powerful warrior, named by the public as Aquaman, whose legacy is to become King of his world. When his half-brother Orm (Patrick Wilson) decides to destroy humanity by uniting the various kingdoms ruling the seven seas, Arthur is forced to face his legacy. Aided by close friend Mera (Amber Heard), Arthur puts all his might into battling a looming cataclysm threatening to tear everyone apart.

‘Aquaman’ is a fun, if often silly, comic book caper. Much different to the recent DC comics films, ‘Aquaman’ is far lighter in tone with an abundance of humour and lashings of thrills. Momoa is a perfect fit as the barrel-chested hero with his waspish ways mirroring the actor’s latent charisma. He is ably supported by Heard, Wilson and others who spout the dialogue with tongue firmly in cheek. James Wan directs with an eye for genuine comic-book flavour with each celluloid frame looking like a panel from the comic page.

Although its screenplay is overlong with an episodic feel, ‘Aquaman’ makes up for it by not taking things too seriously. Audiences see these films to be entertained by colourful spectacle which ‘Aquaman’ delivers. Occasionally the sights seem a little too gaudy but the pop-art design of the sets and the elaborate action sequences elevate the film above several recent similar work. It looks like it cost a fortune but every penny is evident on screen with the escapism ratio at a definite high.

Despite being quite ridiculous at times, ‘Aquaman’ is entertaining high-octane nonsense. This is easily the best of the recent spate of DC movies as it discards the morose musings of its forebears to create an enjoyable time. A sequel wouldn’t go amiss in a world that needs more optimistic and exciting viewing than sombre outings of the recent past.

Rating out of 10: 7