Quick Hit: A bit lame for a movie about a giant 90 foot shark.
I’m actually a fan of Steve Alten’s novels. It’s a very particular brand of story that essentially comes down to being scientists vs. monsters of lore – some of them real (take Meg for instance) and some of them probably not (The Loch comes to mind about a scientist who was convinced as a boy that Loch Ness monsters are real due to an experience as a boy). But he tries very hard to convey history, science, and even a bit of other cultures into his books at the same time. The Meg does take a step in this direction, but at the same time, some things are not meant to play out on a movie screen rather than a book.
What this movie boils down to is some people get stranded on a submarine and they need Jason Statham to rescue them. In a moment he cures rampant alcoholism that has been raging within him since his last rescue dive and jumps back into the water. In doing so, they release the beast that had destroyed the submarine he was saving on his last rescue dive – The MEG (hereafter only typed in all capital letters when referring to the shark), a megalodon. And she’s a hungry girl for sure (and a clever girl, because we might as well reference Jurassic Park because it borrows heavily).
The best things that this movie has going for it is the set design, which really makes submarines look like submarines and makes the beach look awesome, particularly when the MEG is sliding under the water near everyone. The movie also has Statham, who has a penchant for appearing in ridiculous movies (see Crank, Crank 2, Transporter, The Expendables, etc) and making them seem at least remotely plausible. He continues that here, delivering lines with just enough seriousness that the movie could be taken for real, but also at times putting his Limey tongue firmly in his cheek to deliver lines. It’s a good performance in a film that probably deserved more.
Some of the images in The Meg are pretty good, but a lot of the movie is just blah. In particular, the action sequences, which are full of CGI shark, leave a lot to be desired. There’s just not a good way to make this believable, and it robs the shots of a lot of the tension they should have. There’s one in particular that is better than the others, which is when Statham is miraculously outswimming a 90 foot shark. But other than that, the visual style isn’t as promising as you would have hoped. There’s also the matter of the fact that the movie has very little that makes the violence believable. Outside of The Shallows, there’s been very few movies about sharks that don’t have a decent amount of blood and gore, and so despite the huge size of the shark, there isn’t much there. Personally, a way around the gore would have been to just have the MEG swallow people whole, but that’s just me.
And there’s the running time of The Meg which feels as bloated as the shark. It’s almost two hours long, and a lot of it is filled with sadness for the cliché characters that have died. I’m not saying that characters shouldn’t mourn their losses, but at least remember what type of a movie you’re in. The same goes for the scientific explanations that occur throughout the first hour of the movie that want so hard for you to believe that the MEG is really out there under an oceanic trench, waiting to eat us all. It’s as if the movie had two tones that just don’t mesh well, and so the movie ultimately fails.
If you love Statham, you probably won’t leave totally disappointed, but otherwise, I don’t see a lot to recommend this average shark film. I’m giving it a “C-“.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"