TL;DR – A film that knows how to be a bit silly while still playing it mostly straight about a shark that suddenly not extinct.
Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
Last year there was a film that came out about a killer shark destroying the world, and not just a shark but a megalodon. I wanted to go see it, but the timing never worked out and I think I was going through Jurassic World fatigue at the same time. Well, this week with the release of Godzilla and after playing Sea of Thieves I had been interested to give it a look and what would you know the very day I was pondering The Meg popped up on Netflix. Well never one to look a gift horse in the mouth I knew now was the best time to check it out and wow, it did not disappoint.
So to set the scene, off the shore of China a billionaire Morris (Rainn Wilson) has built Mana One a purpose built deep ocean observatory. Its goal is to study the life in the oceans around the Mariana Trench but to also investigate a theory of chief scientist Zhang (Winston Chao). He believes that the trench is actually deeper and there is a layer of cold water creating a thermocline (barrier) protecting an undisturbed ecosystem underneath. So they send down Lori (Jessica McNamee), Toshi (Masi Oka), and The Wall (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson) in a submarine and lo and behold Zhang was right. However, just as they start to explore this new region they are attacked by something large and fast, sending them crashing into the ocean floor. With time being on the line and few people qualified they call in Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) a rescue diver who is now out of the game after a rescue went wrong and people blamed him for the deaths of his team.
is one of those films that is walking a very thin tightrope. On the one hand,
it knows what type of film it is and it is playing into that genre, but on the
other hand, it can’t get too silly because it is not a parody or satire film. There
are a lot of calculations that go into making a film that is silly fun but
still playing it straight and on a whole, I think The Meg gets that balance right … for the most part.
Part of what helps the film immensely is how the cast is clearly here for it, and at times is having real fun with this more schlocky film. When you cast Jason Statham in your film you kind of know what you are going to get, so it is important that he is a good fit for your film and here he is. He has that complete earnest sincerity that works through his gruff delivery, and that is just the right fit for the film. Rainn Wilson is clearly having a ball as the billionaire Morris and chewing on every bit of scenery that he can get his hands on. But it is also a role with a lot of range, and I liked that they subverted a lot of the tropes that usually goes along with that kind of character before going nope he is 100% that kind of character. Also, if there was one star-making turn in this film it was Sophia Cai as Meiying the daughter of Suyin (Li Bingbing) the main scientist. I think she steals nearly every scene she is in.
highlight is the visual effects, that did more than a serviceable job bringing
the shark and other creatures to life. I have always had not so much a fear
(though that is there) but a healthy respect for sharks being the apex predator
of the oceans. But those shots of the shark appearing from the dark below was terrifying
every time. There was a lot of detail in the sharks themselves that while not
the best animated giant monster, was still a serviceable one.
Overall the story was fine, with the kind of story beat that you expect in a film like this. There is the first encounter, the accidental release, the hunt, the resolution of the hunt, the oh God we got it wrong, and the big final act set piece. There are the requisite ‘meet all the people here who will mostly be dead by the end of the film’ moment. There are some people that will clearly survive no matter what happens, and those you expect to die generally end up dead. I did find it interesting how the film has some subtle additions to make it more engaging for the Chinese market (also to score one of those coveted Chinese releases). There are digs at Taiwan, the irresponsible media, also self-absorbed capitalists. While the story was nothing you wouldn’t expect, it was still fine. However, I did find that by the time of the big third act battle sequence I had started to check out, I think the predictable narrative just kind of ran out of steam.
In the end, do we recommend The Meg? I mean sure. Look if you are catching it on Netflix or on TV then you’ve got nothing to lose. It is a mostly solid big monster film, it is not the best in the genre by a wide margin, but it is also by no means the worst
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow
Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV,
he’ll be talking about International Relations,
or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of The Meg
Directed by – Jon Turteltaub
Screenplay by – Dean Georgaris, Jon Hoeber & Erich Hoeber
Based on – Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror by Steve Alten
Music by – Harry Gregson-Williams
Cinematography by – Tom Stern
Edited by – Steven Kemper
Production/Distribution Companies – Gravity Pictures, Flagship Entertainment, Apelles Entertainment, Di Bonaventura Pictures, Maeday Productions & Warner Bros. Pictures
Starring – Jason Statham, Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, Cliff Curtis, Ruby Rose, Winston Chao, Page Kennedy, Jessica McNamee, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Robert Taylor, Sophia Cai & Masi Oka
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: PG; Germany: 12; New Zealand: M; United Kingdom: 12A; United States: PG-13