- Review by Conor Courtney
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what one expects from a movie like The Meg. I went into the theatre anticipating some form of Jaws, Deep Blue Sea, and Godzilla mash-up, but that’s not exactly what you’re in for. Going beyond the relatively simple premise itself, that of an underwater sea lab releasing a prehistoric monster shark from far beneath the ocean, the movie is unlike any shark thriller I have seen.
The star-studded cast, Jason Statham, Bingbing Li, Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose, Masi Oka, couldn’t seem to overcome the script awkwardly jutting in relationship after relationship, backstory after backstory. The cramped underwater station is somehow filled with connections including an ex-wife, an eccentric billionaire, an embittered submarine crash survivor, his alcoholic rescuer, the hero’s love interest, and three generations of underwater vehicle experts. The dialogue feels ripped from any B-shark film, full of sarcasm and various levels of racial based comedy. However, you can feel the box-office polish behind the jokes. Although I was there for the horror, there were filmgoers who clearly fell for the Marvel-esque witty comments, with several viewers laughing out loud at the film’s less stressful moments. Rainn Wilson’s character was probably one of the most bizarre aspects of the film. The outlandish and irreverent billionaire felt less like an Elon Musk type, and more along the lines of Lake Placid’s Hector Cyr (Oliver Platt) helicopter and all. If you let yourself forget about the shark you might even think you were in some Michael-Scarn sequel, with Dwight in the lead role. Fortunately, after about the halfway mark, the movie moves away from its focus on relationship drama and quips, and centres on the prehistoric threat.
The film manages the shark terror well. The setup is filled with quasi-scientific reasoning, and Statham saves the day several times, every 10 minutes or so, imbuing the movie with a sense of purpose and progression. Some of the better jump scares even managed to elicit audible screams in the packed theatre during my viewing. The film relied on the claustrophobic feeling created by underwater vehicles to intensify the terror, cleverly using small crafts and cages to highlight that any small body in the water was prey to the massive fish. There were countless scenes that would have terrified any thalassophobe. The film accomplishes this by making use of the hunting tactic of Great White sharks, with the Megalodon stalking its prey from far beneath the waves, before eventually breaching the surface.
It is worth noting that The Meg opted to follow the trend set by films like Deep Blue Sea, and improved upon by the Sharknado series, of ridiculous shark based violence, over the relative realism of Jaws. This entry veers away from establishing itself in the light of a drawn out beach safety PSA, with notable scenes including; lassoing the giant shark, the Meg biting down on a man in a Zorb like a dog with a beach ball, and of course, several underwater shark roars.
However, the film is by no means unrealistic with its gore, even boasting a (shark) eye-gouging scene that could rival Dead Space 2 or Audition.
The Meg doesn’t exactly do anything new, but what it does do is creative and enjoyable. The clunky dialogue is hard to ignore, but anyone watching The Meg for the writing is setting themselves up for failure.
The Meg stole the only pun I had planned to use, but that’s not going to stop me.