Directed by: Jon Turteltaub
Runtime: 1hr, 53mins
Action, Horror, Sci-Fi
Review by: Zach Owens
Alright, I know this isn’t an indie movie, but I recently caught up with this movie and couldn’t help myself.
It turns out “The Meg” is everything you thought it would be only more-so. It’s big and dumb and cheesy and silly and ridiculous, and I’m not talking about the shark. In fact, the shark somehow, despite its size, is smart enough to sneak around and take everyone by surprise far more times than you might have expected.
The film is based loosely on Steve Alten’s 1997 novel “Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror.” It involves a somewhat disgraced rescue diver, Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham), being called in to save members of an underwater research team that’s been attacked by an unknown creature while exploring the deepest recesses of the ocean. The area had previously been concealed by a thermocline cloud of hydrogen sulfide.
The creature is, of course, a Megalodon, an enormous and powerful species of shark that was believed to have been extinct for millions of years. The fact that Jonas spots it, knows what it is immediately and states that it’s a Megalodon so matter of factly seems to indicate that these characters live in a world where SyFy original movies aren’t considered ridiculous and they’ve seen enough of them to not be surprised when one actually turns up. And because they made the mistake of venturing through the thermocline cloud, they’ve opened a doorway for the “Meg” to pass into our modern world.
And because billionaire Jack Morris (Rainn Wilson), the man footing the bill for the project, doesn’t want bad publicity, Jonas and the research team end up being responsible for trying to find and put down the violent beast.
This is one of those slasher-style movies that knows you’re anticipating the deaths, so it tries to trick you into thinking you know what it’s going to do next, only to do something slightly different. But the anticipation of the jump scare, and the slight subverting of the expected outcome, ends up being the thing that makes the actual jump scares work.
This is also another one of those big summer blockbusters that’s targeting the sizable Asian market, particularly that of China, where they typically stand to make more money. If you’ve been noticing more and more Chinese stars getting notable roles in summer blockbusters it’s because most of those blockbusters make more money internationally than domestically. So producers continue to find more and more ways to appeal to the international market. To that end, “The Meg” takes place off the coast of Shanghai and features famous Chinese actors Li Bingbing and Winston Chao in prominent roles.
Jason Statham’s Jonas and Li Bingbing’s Suyin become the film’s central romance. It isn’t as though they have no chemistry, it’s more that the writing puts them in the most obvious and cliche situations – like she just happens to walk in on him while he’s in a towel so she can be impressed by his muscular body, or one of them might need some mouth to mouth at some point. Let’s just say it isn’t the most interesting relationship I’ve ever seen put on screen, but the two do their best with the material they’re given.
Yet the real question on so many minds here is, does Jason Statham get to punch the Meg in the face? And the answer is – pretty much.
There will be too many movie snobs that will turn their nose up at this film because, “it’s too silly,” and too many “regular movie goers” who will say, “it’s the best shark movie of all time because it’s so much fun.” Reality is somewhere in the middle. It may be big and dumb, but it’s certainly not going for the serious cinephile, who won’t be able to resist putting it up against “Jaws.” But the filmmakers knew what kind of movie they were making and who they were making it for.
It’s an over-the-top, thrill ride of a B movie that’ll likely have you laughing at it as much as screaming at its jump scares. If Shark Week, “Sharknado” and the countless other silly SyFy original movies have proven anything, it’s that there is a place for big, dumb, fun monster flicks. At least “The Meg” has the budget and the star power to deliver on the concept.