Night Shyamalan’s latest thriller Split will not make audiences forget about the director’s most embarrassing missteps, but the film evokes The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable more than The Happening and After Earth. The film follow the abduction of three teenage girls by a man with dissociative identity disorder (DID). Known to us as “Kevin”, the man harbors 23 distinct personalities, and as some of them begin to run things, we’re confronted with a powerful force living inside Kevin – a 24th personality known only as “The Beast”. The film is commendable for its uses of classic camera techniques to disorient the audience and ratchet up the more realistic aspects of the film, while downplaying the more fantastic and silly elements. Aided by two spectacular performances (and a collection of other strong ones), Split is easily the best film Shyamalan has made in over a decade – and may be second only to The Sixth Sense.
For the third time this summer, it is time to watch a superhero flick where some characters fight other characters for poorly-developed reasons. In this specific case, it’s the X-Men universe and the film is X-Men: Apocalypse, named after the all-power and ancient villain of the film. The eponymous character is central to not only the plot and theme of the film, but ultimately its problems as well. On a fundamental level, this film fails because it could not appropriately handle the character of Apocalypse, and you can almost feel it buckling under the weight of this Frankenstein’s Monster. There are lesser problems as well, including some poorly-used characters and a mismanaged tonal consistency, but you can trace nearly every negative back to the big-bad. Thus, despite introducing intriguing new versions of beloved characters, this is a poor end to the new X-Men trilogy.