“The Meg”- Movie Review
Imagine this: You’re seven years old. You’ve been taking swimming lessons for a while now. You’re learning the breaststroke, the backstroke, the butterfly, and everything’s going great. What you know about the ocean comes from what you’ve seen in The Little Mermaid and The Land Before Time V: The Mysterious Island (big big water!). Everything’s going great. But then one day, sometime at night, you turn on the TV, and in the span of 124 minutes, your naiveté is shattered. You see a woman being dragged across the water screaming in pain before she gets pulled under. You see a young boy being eaten alive by a shark while a fountain of his blood bursts up from the water. Do you think this kind of imagery would hibernate in your subconscious and make you nervous about ever stepping foot in a large body of water every again? If you say yes, you’re right. And if you’re right, imagine the level of anxiety you’d get from seeing a trailer for a movie about a blood-thirsty sea creature the size of the Titanic?
What I’m talking about here is The Meg, a film loosely based on a 1997 novel by Steve Alton that brings the lore of the Megalodon shark to life. After a crew of scientists crash during a deep-sea expedition, a seasoned rescue diver named Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) is brought in to save them. To his surprise, and to the shock of everyone at the Mana One research facility, the scientists aren’t the only ones stuck at the bottom of the ocean- so is a 70-foot Megalodon, one that Jonas just so happened to encounter years ago during a fatal rescue operation. In a matter of no time, the beast breaks through the barriers and makes it to the surface. And now it’s up to Jonas, oceanographer Suyin Zhang (Li Bingbing), and many others (including Ruby Rose, Cliff Curtis, Winston Chao, and Page Kennedy) to kill it before it devours anything and everything.
So as you can tell, Jaws had a profound effect on me growing up. I’ve always admired the ocean and (almost) everything in it, but that movie inspired me to never drift too far from the shallow ends. The idea that some giant, sharp-toothed predator could be lurking just below my feet terrifies me to no end. And while I have Jaws to thank for planting a seed of fear into my subconscious, I have to give credit to The Meg for successfully reinforcing my anxieties.
The shots that director Jon Turtletaub uses to convey the size and scale of the Megalodon are quite effective. There’s a moment when the film switches to a first-person POV of someone bobbing in and out of the water, and just as the camera dips back into the water, we suddenly come face-to-face with the shark. This combined with shots of the shark swimming beneath a crowd of people- making them seem like ants in comparison- do well at building suspense. It also helps that the effects are decently rendered. It’s by no means one-hundred percent believable, but it’s good enough to where whenever the shark is on screen, it’s beyond entertaining.
The acting is just as solid, especially from Jason Statham and Li Bingbing, and Shuya Sopa Cai. Rainn Wilson is basically playing a scruffier version of Dwight Schroot from The Office, but he plays it well. The only times where the humor actually works is when it’s coming from him. Everyone else’s performances flow with the film’s tone, which often teeters between being grounded and more serious and being a colorful, dumb summer movie. The first half of the movie is heavy on the dialogue and build-up, while much of the craziness of the Megalodon is saved for the second. I think if the filmmakers had found a sturdier balance between the two, the film would’ve come off stronger.
As is, The Meg delivers what it advertises. Really there are no surprises. The story plays exactly how you expect it to, Jason Statham does his thing, and overall, it’s a decent film I’m positive you’ll have fun with. So if you’re still up for a mindless summer popcorn movie, The Meg is the perfect catch.
Cosmic Grade- 3.3/5 Stars