This past weekend, the wife and I caught M. Night Shyamalan’s latest movie. This is going to be a review on that film WITH SPOILERS. This review will be spoiling the ending and important plot points of the movie, “Split.” Do not read this review if you have not seen the movie. The ending is such that you’ll likely enjoy seeing the movie with no spoilers. You’ve been warned!

It seems like the marketing for this movie started in the early fall last year and ever since my wife saw the first trailer, she was very intrigued and really wanted to see it. This desire came more out of an appreciation for James Mcavoy’s acting chops than a trust in Shyamalan’s directing track record. In fact, it’s that track record with such stinkers as “The Last Airbender”, “The Village”, and “The Happening” that has caused me and many casual movie-goers to avoid his films. I’ve heard some say that “The Visit” that came out a little while back about the creepy visit to the grandparents (never saw it) was not terrible but there weren’t any reviews that made me want to go see it.

I’m here to tell you that Shyamalan’s most recent film, “Split,” is really good. No joke. Not kind of good, not average, it is really good! Now, right up front, I will say that this movie isn’t for everyone. The tone of the movie definitely delivers on being a creepy psychological thriller without much of a scare factor. James Mcavoy delivers so well in his performance. You don’t get to see all 23 (24) of his personalities but the 5-7 that he does get to showcase are AMAZING. Truly, he’s a master of his craft. My favorite of his personalities was definitely Hedwig, the 9-year-old boy. He added some awesome comic relief in a movie that I didn’t think could pull off comic relief well at all.

His performance of Dennis pretending to be Barry (a dissociative identity impersonating another disassociative identity!) was truly inspired. How many others actors could actually pull that off?

I was starting to have some big question marks with the story when Mcavoy’s therapist explained the abilities her DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) patients could possess. Even more question marks were raised when Mcavoy turns into “the beast.” Although, I will say that I was grateful that restraint was shown in this transformation. If he grew hair, claws, and went throw some kind of werewolf transformation I would’ve checked out.

However… with the frame of reference provided at the very end of the movie, his abilities made perfect sense. Here is the bomb… it’s revealed at the end of the movie that Split is a story told within a shared Shyamalan universe. Bruce Willis is seen at a bar at the end of the movie, watching the news story about Mcavoy’s villain and mentioning a “Mr. Glass.” If that ending confused you at all, here’s what’s going on.

Shyamalan directed a movie in 2000 that was an understated, realistic superhero movie that starred Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson. That movie was “Unbreakable.” This movie had much critical acclaim and was generally a well-accepted film by general audiences. The ending of “Split” reveals that this movie is in the same universe as that of “Unbreakable.” Mind-Blown! This means that there will be another if not multiple movies set in this universe where Bruce Willis’ superhero character will be pitted against Mr. Glass, The Hord (of the beast), and possibly more villains that Mr. Glass has been recruiting. I am so psyched for this!

Is this movie a complete return to form for Shyamalan? Has he completely redeemed himself for his past directing blunders? Perhaps not yet. But he has definitely taken some big steps in that direction. One of my favorite scenes in this film is when Shyamalan portrays a character (he cameos in almost all of his films) that has access to security video footage that Mcavoy’s therapist needs. As they view the footage, the therapist teases Shyamalan’s character for eating too much junk food and “getting soft in the middle” to which Shyamalan replies guiltily, “I know.” This seemed a clever line of dialogue in which Shyamalan poked some fun at himself for not making great directing choices in the middle of his now possibly turning career.

I’m curious to know what you thought of the movie. Did you get the big reveal at the end? Did you catch the “Unbreakable” soundtrack playing right before they revealed the shared universe? Should we forgive Shyamalan? Let me know!



The Most MagicAL Place on Earth?


Hello, my name is Alan Middleton and I never visited Disney World until I was 29 years old. Before my first visit 2 weeks ago, anyone I ever told that I had never been treated me like I had been severely deprived. They’d ask, “Did your parents not love you?” or, “Are you afraid of flying?” But I assure you that my parents loved all 8 of their children and were wise enough not to even attempt such a trip with that many kids. Also, my fear of flying is confined to who I’m going to be stuck sitting next to or if Spirit will lose my luggage or not. #neveragain

It’s interesting to me how people would describe Disney to me before I went earlier this year. They’d proudly proclaim that it is, in fact, the most magical place on earth. They would describe it as a kind of paradise for the family where everyone was struck with unearthly happiness. There would be boasting of the bigness of the park itself, its shows, and its fireworks. They’d also boast of the attention given to the smaller details such as park cleanliness, well-hidden security cameras, and cast member (employee) etiquette. Indeed, the park goes through tremendous lengths to immerse their patrons in this world and suspend any type of disbelief.

Despite Disney’s best efforts, I was disappointed. Now don’t get me wrong, I had an AWESOME time there. It captured my imagination (or rather the figment of my imagination) and was truly a magical place. Getting to experience it with my wife (who had been twice before) as well as my brother, sister-in-law, and their two boys (my amazing nephews) made even more so of an enchanting excursion. I rode so many amazing rides (Everest and Haunted Mansion were my favorites) and saw so many cool shows (Lion King, Phantasmic, Star Wars, and my personal favorite I got to star in… Indiana Jones!). The food was amazing, the aura was intoxicating, and the experience was one I’ll never forget.

So why was I disappointed? In a word… Heaven. Heaven is the reason it disappointed me. Now it’s no lie that Disney World was sold to me by those who had been pretty hard. The expectations I had going in were pretty high. It’s fair to say that in many ways, Disney World exceeded my expectations. But through it all, I had this voice inside me that kept seeing the humanity in it all. By that, I suppose I mean that Disney World wasn’t transcendent to what I thought a theme park could be. There’s no doubt it’s the best theme park I have ever been to or likely will ever go to. But it is there that lies in the thought of… this is the best attempt we can make towards a truly magical kingdom. When I compare that in my mind to what I believe and know heaven will be, Disney World falls remarkably short. At Disney

When I compare that in my mind to what I believe and know heaven will be, Disney World falls remarkably short. At Disney World, my feet grew tired from power walking everywhere to see as much as possible in three short days there. There will be a day when those who wait on the Lord will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not become faint. At Disney World, they are ingenious with their methods in getting you to spend even more money while you are at their park. There is a day to come where we will want for nothing. At Disney World, there are still lines, there are still ill-mannered and rude patrons as well as cast members. There are rides that shut down. There are crowds to fight. There are unpleasant weather conditions. There is greed, selfishness, jealousy, arrogance, immorality, etc.

Disney World was a great vacation. It was a great place to visit. But to keep everything in perspective, I still look forward to the perfect place that one day we won’t just be visiting. In that perfect place, we’ll move in for good. And indeed, even now we are (the church) bringing this kingdom to earth. I eagerly welcome His kingdom, the most magical place on earth.

Matthew 25:34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.'”