GLASS ONION vs KNIVES OUT: Did Rian Johnson Do It Again? | Movie Review

How do you follow up something as great as “Knives Out”? A film that was an unexpected breath of fresh air in the murder mystery genre, featuring an all-star ensemble cast in enviably cozy sweaters, and most importantly, a film that was simply so much fun. It’s something that has become essential fall season viewing for so many people, myself included, and recapturing that magic in a sequel seemed like an impossible task. But now, 3 years later, we have a sequel, and we have all been wondering: could it possibly be as much fun as the original? And the

answer is… it’s actually pretty damn close! “Glass Onion” might not have the coziness and the warmth of “Knives Out”, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss those things, but it also retains a lot of the qualities that made the first movie work and it is a thoroughly great time. Rian Johnson is back with a new rollercoaster of plot twists for us to enjoy, and this time around, the whodunit mystery unfolds at a lavish private estate on a Greek island. The players are a group of friends, gathered for their yearly reunion, at

the invitation of a charismatic billionaire entrepreneur, Miles. Puzzles, secrets, lies, red herrings, and of course, murder are in the cards. Everyone is a suspect, and

Benoit Blanc must once again get to the bottom of what’s actually going on. It’s worth noting that, aside from Daniel Craig reprising his role as Detective Blanc, the story of “Glass Onion” is in no way connected to “Knives Out”. But despite that, it is impossible not to compare the two. For one, both films take a very similar approach to the characters: most of them represent exaggerated types of people rather than

being fully fleshed-out, multi-dimensional characters, and most of them are unlikeable. You could even draw some specific parallels here between the two films! I am not going to reveal all of them, but for example, Kate Hudson’s “Birdie” will easily make you think of Toni Collette’s “Joni”, and there is a clear equivalent to Marta, played by Ana de Armas in the first movie… but because I want to keep this video spoiler-free, I am not going to tell you who that is, since we don’t meet this person right away. I will say that between the two films, I

was far more annoyed by the characters in “Glass Onion”. Even though both groups are unlikeable, I found the Thrombeys of “Knives Out” to be a more interesting kind of unlikeable, as well as a more subtle and more clever social commentary. With the “Disruptors” of “Glass Onion”, which is what that group of friends calls themselves, most of the character types feel a lot simpler, a lot less subtle, and the writing goes for broader strokes. Obviously, that approach to characterization is deliberate, however, I personally prefer nuance in 99% of cases. And also, a scheming Chris Evans is

just way more interesting than the villain we got in “Glass Onion”, there is no competition. As for the general group dynamic – it revolves around all of the characters (except for Detective Blanc, of course) having a strong, personal connection to the owner of the estate. Each of them has something to hide and a lot to lose, and they are all concerned about the presence of a former member of this group who now seems to be at odds with them. Once again, a pretty similar overall setup to the first film. Now, you can take this as

a positive or a negative. Some people will say that “Glass Onion” doesn’t feel original enough because it borrows too many elements from “Knives Out”. Beyond the characters themselves, there are similarities in the structure of the film and how the mystery is presented. But the way I see it, Johnson took the core of something that clearly worked and put it into a completely different setting, while also going bigger in almost every aspect. If that’s not a successful formula for a sequel, I don’t know what is. On the flipside, you can, of course, make the argument that

this is mostly repackaging everything that worked about the original and serving it with a fresh coat of paint, so to speak. But first of all, that kind of is the whodunit murder mystery genre in general – think of Agatha Christie novels. And second, I think the entertainment factor and the timeliness of the comedy is what really makes both of these films stand out. Johnson once again uses a rather classic approach to this mystery, like he did in “Knives Out” – there are flashbacks to fill in the details, the same events playing out from different perspectives

to provide context, and plenty of culturally-relevant satire to keep the audience entertained. If anything, “Glass Onion” goes further with the humor than the first film, and I am very tempted to actually call it a comedy. The overall tone is a little lighter and a bit more over the top, though it never turns into a complete farce. The mystery itself is also more ambitious, and while the question of whether bigger equals better in this case will come down to personal preference, it’s undeniable that Rian Johnson succeeds in delivering a sprawling sequel that feels fresh and exciting.

It’s also worth mentioning that “Glass Onion” work perfectly as a standalone. I know I’m spending a lot of time comparing it to “Knives Out” in this video, but that is simply because of how popular that film is, because the vast majority of people are going to be coming into “Glass Onion” having already seen the first movie. And because, as far as recent whodunits go, – “Knives Out” is kind of the gold standard. However, I really do appreciate that Johnson was able to create a sequel that can be watched and enjoyed as its own, separate story,

and that is actually a pretty rare thing. I do find it interesting that Detective Blanc is much more of a protagonist in this film compared to the first one, and even considering all of the reveals, he remains the most likable person in the story and a clear standout when it comes to the cast. He is also in a bit of a fish-out-of-water scenario here, as he tries to navigate his first real case in a long time, and it happens to involve people with a very different lifestyle from his own, which only makes him more appealing

to the audience. At this point, he is no longer a neutral investigator observing the drama – he is one of the players that are front and center of this story. Does that mean we’re going to potentially see more development for his character in future installments? Because yes, I am sure there are going to be future installments. Only time will tell, but for now it’s clear we have found our modern day, American version of Hercule Poirot, and that is pretty exciting news. As far as the rest of the cast goes – the movie would not work

without Kate Hudson, who steals every scene she’s in, Edward Norton who is disturbingly great as this obnoxious, arrogant billionaire jerk, and Janelle Monáe whose character is a mystery in itself that I’m not going to spoil. But really, everyone is excellent in the film, even though some characters could have used more screen time, and believe me when I say that “Glass Onion” features some of the best cameos you’ve seen all year. That being said, as I already mentioned, I did find the characters to be less interesting this time around. My primary interest here was the mystery

itself and specifically how Detective Blanc is going to work through this case, peel back the layers of this mystery, if you will, rather than actually being heavily invested in all of the personal drama, like I was in “Knives Out”. In a way, going bigger and broader made “Glass Onion” feel colder and a bit more hollow than its predecessor. So, naturally, as with any sequel, there has been a lot of talk about whether or not this film is actually better than the original, and depending on your personal taste, I can see the argument being made either

way. For me, “Knives Out” is still the better film, and one I’m going to keep coming back to because I have loved it more and more with every viewing. I prefer the slightly smaller, more focused, more contained feel of it. I like the more subtle approach to social commentary and characters, even though those things aren’t all that subtle in “Knives Out” to begin with, compared to “Glass Onion” they are. I like that it leans heavier into being a classic murder mystery rather than a more comedic mystery. And I love its overall warmth and atmosphere –

I will take sweaters and family drama in an old mansion with an epic library over a modern luxury vacation with ultra-rich influencers any day. That being said, “Glass Onion” is genuinely a great time, and it’s going to be a fun one to watch over the holidays, with friends and family, once it hits Netflix on December 23rd. I know I’m going to be watching it again, seeing if I can pick up on more details, and I am sure it’s going to be just as entertaining at home as it was on the big screen. Which, by the

way, let me know if you caught it during its unfortunately limited run in threatres! But yes, between all of the twists and turns, the luxurious setting, the talented cast, and the multiple things the title stands for, Rian Johnson delivers a very worthy follow-up to “Knives Out”! Now, where do you think Benoit Blanc is going next?

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