The Meg joins the varied genre of Shark movies ranging in tone thematically from Man vs Nature to Sci Fi and out right parody.
I’ll get this out of the way upfront, just like the recent Transformers movies The Meg is largely funded and focused on the Asian Box Office market, so everything from casting to locations and product placement reflect this. However unlike the recent Transformers outings, The Meg is actually a coherent movie with characters and a story. It was also in part filmed in Kumeu studios in NZ (represent).
Lets find out where The Meg lands on the scale from Classic Jaws to “they made how many sequels?!” Sharknado.
The Meg is a camp Sci Fi movie where once again mankinds tinkering unleashes things it’s unable to control. There’s a giant shark, underwater action and lots of things get eaten. It’s unapologetically a summer blockbuster not The Abyss, if you are ok with that then there’s fun to be had.
So we have an underwater research lab funded by the dorky Billionaire played by The Office’s Rain Wilson they are trying to find a secret deepest part of the ocean that is separated by a super cold layer of water.
Jason Statham plays Jonas Taylor a rugged and slightly PTSD rescue diver and as usual puts in a solid, if one note, performance, I’d like to see Statham circle back to his more comedic Lock Stock days eventually.
Li Bingbing although a huge star in Chinese cinema is a bit uneven and clunky as Marine Biologist, Suyin. Sure there is a bit of language barrier, but it was more how authentic the performance came across than her english language skills.
Sophia Cai puts in a cute performance as a Li Bingbing’s daughter Meiying, child actors can be sort of hit and miss but she actually adds a bit of character to the story.
Nzer Cliff Curtis (represent) manages to anchor the movie’s premise with credibility (somehow) and lends weight to the intense scenes with his presence.
Ruby Rose was trying for the cocky but capable computer tech trope but mostly just has distractingly over styled hair. I haven’t seen the seasons of Orange is the New Black to get an idea of her acting in it but based on John Wick 2 and The Meg, shes being used as as much of a special effect as the CGI sharks. But still early days in her career.
So The Meg is okay but it holds itself back from greatness, if you are in the mood for light entertainment you will probably get some satisfaction. The general film making and editing is competent but if handled by a better director could have really brought some tension and stakes to some of the more intense scenes and might have aligned it more with the book it’s been adapted from. Tone wise it was skating between serious and goofy so some of the urgency was a bit lost.
Despite it’s nearly 2 hour run-time there were points where some of the scenes really needed a bit more room to breathe and let the suspense and tension sink in.
Li Bingbing’s performance really sunk any of the potential romance between her and Statham, again it’s not the language barrier it was her performance. Cliff Curtis and Statham had more chemistry!
Yes the movie acknowledged some of it’s own silliness but there are some things that happen along the way that will have you rolling your eyes like a shark mid attack.
The Good Stuff
The great thing about The Meg is it doesn’t take it’s self too seriously but doesn’t go full Sharknado silly either, it manages to walk that line between unconsciously ridiculous and self parody.
What actually kept the movie together was the Cliff Curtis / Jason Statham bro combo, I’d like to see these guys in something together again.
There is a theory I have when it comes to good monster movies is that for the first 45 mins it’s all setup until the creature is revealed and then it all goes nuts. The Exorcist, Jaws Alien and Aliens, are all examples of this. I appreciated the fact that you didn’t get to see The Meg until about 45 minutes into the movie. But as I mentioned before the directing and editing don’t make the most of this tension.
The action set-pieces are entertaining for the most part and the visuals and CGI look good (I hope Aquaman gets some of these CG artists onboard).
The Meg is a fun if sub par monster movie, held back by some uneven performances and presentation.
It’s relatively bloodless which probably helped The Meg get it’s PG-13 rating and there were a few kids in the audience that seemed to be enjoying the ride.
It’s not as terrible as some reviewers seem to think especially when compared to the genuinely lazy and disappointing Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.
How much popcorn could get stuck in a megalodons teeth?
You’ll like it if you enjoy:
Blockbuster popcorn movies.
Deep blue sea.
Skip it if you:
Want any realism.
Solid story / performances.
Are expecting another Jaws.
In cinemas now