10th Aug2018

‘The Meg’ Review

by Jason Brigger

Stars: Jason Statham, Ruby Rose, Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, Cliff Curtis, Winston Chao, Shuya Sophia Cai, Page Kennedy, Robert Taylor | Written by Dean Georgaris, Jon Hoeber | Directed by Jon Turteltaub

the-meg-poster

The Meg may seem like a film you would watch late at night on a basic cable channel but the $150 million dollar (approximately £116,430,000) budget says otherwise. The film, based on the popular book Meg, is Jaws on steroids with more humor and in this insistence, that is a good thing. The plot? Well, it’s marine biologists and Jason Statham trying to stop a 75-foot-long prehistoric shark known as the Megalodon, i.e. the Meg, from eating people. That about sums up the film.

Oh, you want the longer form of the plot? Jonas Taylor (Statham) is an expert sea diver and Naval Captain who aborted his mission and half his crew when he encountered the Meg several years ago. No one believes him about the Meg and Taylor’s life has not gone well since then, including the failure of his marriage and being dishonorably discharged from the military. He now spends his days drunk and passed out in Thailand until a second chance comes calling for him.

When Taylor’s ex-wife Lori (Jessica McNamee) embarks on a deep-sea expedition, she breaks an environmental barrier that has kept the Meg secluded from humanity and unleashes the prehistoric monster to the surface, putting humankind on its menu. Taylor is hired to rescue Lori and her crew as her submarine is stuck 11,000 feet below the surface. Despite saving Lori, the ramifications are deadly as the Meg attacks the underwater research facility funded by billionaire Morris (Rainn Wilson) and run by world renowned scientist Zhang (Winston Chao) and his daughter Suyin (Bingbing Li), resulting in
Taylor making the choice to stay and fight the Meg one more time.

The Good:

  • Fun. The film is fun and lighthearted and never takes itself too seriously and when it does, Rainn Wilson’s Morris steps in for the comedic relief. Jason Statham is a superhero with a wet suit in the film and if you can get past several “how is that possible?” moments, you can really enjoy the ridiculousness of the film.
  • Paying tribute to the deceased. In most films, especially action films, once a character dies, the remaining characters proceed through the film without much more than a few seconds of remorse. The Meg is different as the intensity and death of their friends is a recurring theme and a topic the characters address throughout the film. It is a small detail but a nice touch from the writers.

The Bad:

  • The dialogue. While I was not expecting Shakespeare, I was hoping for at least decent dialogue between the characters. This is no more apparent than in the first twenty minutes of the film when some cringe worthy lines of dialogue are spoken. The lines come off as fake and felt like the writers looked at generic dialogue from past action films and copied them to this film. The positive is either the actors/actresses delivered the lines better or the dialogue improved the longer the film proceeded and by the conclusion, some genuine good lines were delivered.
  • Background of the characters. Yes, it’s an action film and most of the characters are only present to be shark chum but that doesn’t mean the audience doesn’t want to be invested in the characters. Outside of Taylor, the audience never learns the background of the supporting cast or even how they came together on the research facility. I am still trying to figure out half of the characters’ jobs at the facility or what the main research objective is for the underwater facility. I am also upset that Suyin’s 8-year-old daughter Meiying (Sophia Cai) is allowed to run around all floors of the research facility without parental guidance!

The Middling:

  • Who is the villain? Outside of the Meg, the audience really does not have a villain to root against in the film. Technically, even the Meg isn’t a villain as Lori and her marine biologist friends are the intruders that disrupted the Meg’s habitat and provided a way for it to escape to the surface. Morris is the only character that comes close to being a villain but his worst quality is that of an eccentric billionaire who only wants to capture the Meg in order to profit from it. Not the most noble of attributes but still not a Lex Luthor type villain the audience can hate. Overall, the film does not suffer and may even be better for not having an over-the-top villain but without having this type of character, The Meg seems to be missing an opportunity for the audience to root for a person for the Meg to devour.

Final Grade: C+ (Average)

The Meg is the best shark film since Jaws (no disrespect to Deep Blue Sea) but that doesn’t mean it’s a “good” film. If you are looking for a fun action film to distract you from the real world, you can do a lot worse than this. The film is an enjoyable way to spend 1½ hours of your day and it has a giant shark fighting Jason Statham, what more can an audience want?

The Meg is in cinemas now.
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You can catch Jason Brigger on the geek-centric podcast, The History of Bad Ideas, as new episodes are released every week at www.nerdly.co.uk or subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher and other podcasting apps. You can listen to their latest episode right here.
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