Film review of the movie The Meg, starring Jason Statham as a rescue expert who must tackle a Megalodon, a massive prehistoric shark, after it is disturbed from an isolated existence after an engineering exploration.
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During a deep water rescue mission, expert Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) is forced to leave behind two of his crew when the submarine they are in is attacked by a mighty unseen creature. Jonas is convinced it is a giant Megalodon shark, a relic of prehistory, thought to have been extinct for more than 2 million years, a belief that lends others to think he’s crazy and they blame him for the loss of lives.
Years later, a scientific research station penetrates deeper into the ocean than other explorers, uncovering a hidden world of strange creatures. Down there, is the Magalodon Jonas encountered years before and it attacks a mini-sub captained by his ex-wife.
Brought out of retirement by the lead scientist at the station, Jonas again rescues people from the jaws of death. But the Kraken has awoken and it follows them to the surface. Jonas and the crew know they must destroy the creature as it heads toward a heavily populated beach in China.
Literary critics shrieked “Jurassic Shark!” when author Steve Alten’s first book in ‘The Meg’ series hit the stands in 1997. But they may have laughed on the other side of their faces when that book and the six others that followed have sold millions of copies worldwide.
This film adaptation has been in various levels of developmental hell since the rights were first bought by Disney back in the late 90’s. Directors as varied as Jan De Bont and Eli Roth have at one time been attached to it, but it’s Cool Runnings and National Treasure’s Jon Turteltaub who finally wields the megaphone.
It’s more Jurassic Jaws than Park and there are cute, if rather obvious, references to its mighty ‘big bad shark on the run’ forbear. Like Steven Spielberg, Turteltaub is wise in delaying showing off the CGI team’s efforts at realising the long extinct sea beast.
There is a small boy who begs his mother to let him swim in the sea, a Chinese ‘Alex Kintner’.
When The Meg is finally slain, its carcass groans as it floats toward the ocean floor.
Hell, there’s even a small dog called Pippin!
But however much the movie apes that blockbuster, it was always doomed to fail.The Meg is not helped out by a script that is as fishy as the monster the cast chase. Statham, whose monotone, gravelly voice usually barfs up dialogue as if it was something irritating he had just eaten, is unable to assist.
Some of the classic, plummy lines he gets are:
- Oh my God
- It’s the Megaladon (everyone says a variation on this during the first half. How come everyone knows so much about this animal?)
- We’ll all die
- Man versus Meg isn’t a fight…it’s a slaughter!
One thing’s always for sure, you are never left unsurprised after watching Statham on screen. He does what it says on the tin he has just been spring out of: He grumbles. He stares intensely. He furrows his brow. He looks manly.
He also looks very good when wearing only a towel (yes, there is a ubiquitous topless moment, more worth the price of admission than the whole movie).
He has the chance to show some range in The Meg, though – he also looks great in a swimsuit.
A good support cast includes Li Bingbing as an ethereal looking, plucky love interest, Shuya Sophia Cai (and providing most of the laughs in the movie) as her smart daughter and Rainn Wilson as the pantomime, rat-fink research station owner who puts the word lawsuit before casualties when discussing loss of life.
Turteltaub and the production team ensure there are some workmanlike action scenes and the sight of a shark cage being swallowed whole is not something you see every day, but they feel ‘by the numbers’, as if these sort of shocks have cropped up before.
It’s a shame too that the script, peppered as it is with classic dialogue howlers, doesn’t pursue a neat and much more interesting vein of sympathy for the shark, one that Turteltaub skirts around rather than runs with.
The Meg, poor, misunderstood creature that it is, has been merrily swimming around and gobbling up Giant Squid for millions of years when it is suddenly besieged with noise, eye-piercing lights and threatening objects like nuclear submarines and buzzed by more annoying smaller ones.
Yanked out of it’s hermetically sealed environs by nosey humans and all in the name of “science”, it then merrily continues on its way near to the surface – gobbling up whatever it happens across – only to be chased, poisoned and strung up on fishing line.
Fair? I think not. For part of the film, I actually sympathised with it (and the Humpback Whale family).
It’s a Z-movie on an A list budget with a B-cast, but it just about does the job – just – and is left wide open for a sequel. Given that The Meg is already expected to have one of the biggest August weekend opens for a film, it was a wise option.
Cast & credits
Director: John Turteltaub. 1hr 53 mins (113mins). Apelles Entertainment/Di Bonaventura Pictures/Flagship Entertainment Group/Gravity Pictures/Maeday Productions. (12a)
Producers: Belle Avery, Lorenzo Di Bonaventura, Colin Wilson.
Writers: Dean Georgaris, Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber.
Camera: Tom Stern.
Music: Harry Gregson-Williams.
Sets: Grant Major.
Jason Statham, Bingbing Li, Rainn Wilson, Cliff Curtis, Winston Chao, Shuya Sophia Cai, Ruby Rose, Page Kennedy, Robert Taylor, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Jessica McNamee.