The Meg offers a fair share of humor and suspense but comes off as just a bit more than the typical SyFy B-movie of the week. At least I think it does. When you get misgendered in the bathroom before seeing a film, it absolutely kills your mood and kick-starts a depression. Just going off of my notes during the press screening, I can say that I appreciated the commentary with regards to shark poaching.
There were some lines here and there that got my attention because they made me laugh. I made note of deep sea rescue diver Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) being shirtless when chief marine biologist Suyin (Li Bingbing) walked in on him. Can somebody say awkward? I didn’t read the book that inspired the film but it feels like they forced a romantic relationship between the two.
Because nobody else believed Jonas five years earlier on another rescue mission, Suyin’s daughter, Meiying (Sophia Cai), refers to him as “Crazy.” The prologue, set five years earlier, doesn’t reveal too much. It’s great that they gave Meiying a lot to do in this film–some of which provide for some of what I thought were the film’s most comical moments. I also liked that she’s the first person there when the Meg comes to surface level upon attacking the institute. It’ll lead to a lot of therapy sessions due to PTSD, I’m sure.
Exploring a new ecosystem beneath the thermocline level at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean is a worthy goal to admire. Once the Mana One research crew reached the surface at the bottom, you just knew they were going to get attacked. This is as much of a film cliche as there ever was! Granted, you feel for Origin pilot Lori Taylor, (Jessica McNamee), The Wall (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson), and Toshi (Masi Oka). At the surface level, everyone is freaking out including billionaire investor Jack Morris. He’s the guy paying for the entire operation, which he refers to as an expensive day camp!
Chinese oceanographer Dr. Zhang (Winston Chao) and station chief Mac (Cliff Curtis) realize that Jonas is the only man for the job. This doesn’t sit well with their medical doctor, Dr. Heller (Robert Taylor). He was one of the few crew members that Jonas was able to save. He believes Jonas to be a coward to this day. Yet Dr. Zhang and Mac fly off to Thailand to try and woo him knowing he’d rather stay in his self-imposed retirement. All it takes is one mention of Lori and Jonas is off to save the world. Meanwhile, Suyin–Dr. Zhang’s daughter–is brave enough to take things into her own hands without really knowing what she’s up against. ” was under the impression that you were trying to save people from dying at the bottom of the ocean!” Morris exclaims.
One of the things that I appreciated about The Meg was that they didn’t reveal too much too soon. We’ve seen it before in the likes of Jaws, Jurassic Park, etc. On the one hand, audiences don’t want to keep waiting. If a film is being billed as a monster movie so to speak, we want to see it as soon as possible. On the other hand, there’s a lot of plot to develop–even for a film based on a book–so it’s a good idea to introduce all the characters while building up to the moment. The creature’s look is gigantic and terrifying to say the least. Even though the Megalodon is CGI, never for a second did it look like the rubber Great White in Steven Spielberg’s Jaws. Thankfully, the CGI is on key. This film lives and dies on the CGI.
We’re so used to seeing Statham kick ass and kill people so The Meg is big change for his on-screen persona. There’s something different about watching him play Jonas. Despite people thinking that Jonas is crazy, he’s still a human with emotions. Statham plays up this aspect of Jonas and it’s seem through his interacting with other characters. Jonas doesn’t see the battle between man and Meg as a fight but rather, a slaughter.
There seems to be quite a bit of humor in The Meg. This ought to come as no surprise. Some of the humor alone comes from the situation that people are in. Morris gets a substantial amount of witty lines. Even lead engineer Jaxx (Ruby Rose) and remote pilot DJ (Page Kennedy) get their share. This is offset by the suspense that comes with this shark popping out of nowhere at any moment.
If there is one thing to not like about the film, it is the fate of the dog, Pippin, that will leave most people upset. As Pippin starts swimming back towards the ship, the film immediately cuts to the next scene. Talk about suspense! We don’t know whether the dog lives or dies in that very moment and it’s very upsetting.
The Meg is okay and has its moments but my cap is off to the entire crew because shooting water-based films are very much a challenge.
DIRECTOR: Jon Turteltaub
SCREENWRITERS: Dean Georgaris and Jon Hoeber & Erich Hoeber
CAST: Jason Statham, Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose, Winston Chao, Page Kennedy, Jessica McNamee, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Robert Taylor, Sophia Shuya Cai, Masi Oka, and Cliff Curtis