The Meg (2018)
Critic Consensus: The Meg sets audiences up for a good old-fashioned B-movie creature feature, but lacks the genre thrills -- or the cheesy bite -- to make it worth diving in.
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as Jonas Taylor
as Dr. Minway Zhang
as Jack Morris
as Jaxx Herd
as The Wall
as James 'Mac' Mackreides
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Critic Reviews for The Meg
Director Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure) strikes an agreeable tone, avoiding both unnecessary heaviness and self-aware camp.
There's some corniness that's apart of this film, there are some cheesy lines, but Statham sells it all.
Asks little more of you than to strap in, put away your phone and enjoy watching a freakishly huge prehistoric eating machine terrorize some scientists before it turns its appetite to a beach full of frolickers on floaties.
The one genuine shock is that it takes Statham as long as 44 minutes to remove his shirt and flash his pecs.
Audience Reviews for The Meg
A very basic monster movie that begins fun enough but then quickly overstays its welcome, becoming big and clumsy like a Megalodon while lacking in tension, thrills or anything to hold our attention for more than an hour as things start to get repetitious, lame and purely boring.
Amazingly this movie is an adaptation of a series of books! Yep, we could actually get sequels to this, hmmm. The Plot: A team of very clever people financed by a millionaire are all exploring the depths of the Marianas Trench. They believe at the bottom of the trench there is a thick layer or (thermocline) cloud of Hydrogen Sulfide which is hiding an even deeper section of the trench. Of course they are correct and discover another deeper world. Shock horror this new world is the habitat of a huge Megalodon. By accident (a hole is punched through the thermocline cloud) the Meg gets loose from its hidden world and is now free to eat (or swallow) its way through the South China Sea. Yes that's right, I did say the South China Sea. Did you know this was apparently a movie specifically aimed at the Chinese market? Nope neither did I. Well I say that but the story is set around the Marianas Trench in the western part of the Pacific Ocean and Hainan Island of the coast of China, so I guess that covers it. But its a hell of a coincidence that this movie just happens to be somewhat aimed at one of the biggest and most important movie markets of the time (cynical much?). The Team: OK well we've got a sexy blonde, a fat white guy, a nerdy looking Chinese guy, an attractive Chinese lady, a middle-aged Chinese scientist bloke, token black guy, the somewhat annoying and heartless white guy millionaire, a sexy inked up white goth-esque chick, a middle-aged white guy scientist, and a middle-aged New Zealander scientist bloke. Diversity box well and truly ticked. This movie is pure cheese, that should not be of any surprise. The movie confirms this for you straight away with Jonas' (Jason Statham) backstory. Jonas was part of a top deep sea rescue team. On his last mission things didn't go as planned and he ended up leaving some men behind in a sunk submarine (they died). Since then he's been a drunk layabout in Thailand feeling sorry for himself. He is asked to help the rescue mission at the Trench where a few of the team are stranded at the base (large prehistoric shark attack). At first he declines basically stating that his war is over, but is eventually talked into it. Yep this is basically the Rambo III of the sea. So the Meg/s live down in the Trench in this hidden realm that is home to prehistoric creatures (remember, sequel). Apparently one reason they can't leave this zone is because of water temperature, the ocean is too cold for them. Down is their habitat it's warmer presumably its closer to the Earth's centre? Anyway this is why the shark swims near the surface all the time, it's warmer. But the other reason was this thermocline cloud of Hydrogen Sulfide. Now a touch of homework will tell you this chemical isn't good but would a cloud layer of this be able to stop a creature as large as a Megalodon? The first issue we witness surrounds the first teams venture down into this new zone in the trench where they are attacked by the Meg. Of course they get stranded down there hence the need for Jonas to be called in. But in order to get Jonas they had to fly to Thailand to meet him. But the team stuck at the bottom of the trench had around 16 hours of oxygen left I think it was. So would that be enough time to fly all the way to Thailand, find Jonas, convince him, fly back, get to the bottom of the trench and then rescue them?? Its also during this movie when I had to ask myself, is this shark really this stupid? At one point it tries to swallow an entire plastic and metal cage. Now I realise sharks might not be that clever and I realise a shark this big would need lots of food to keep going. But surely any creature would understand there's no point in eating/swallowing something that is clearly not edible (not biteable or chewable) and doesn't even fit in its mouth! It's a bloody shark not a snake. I might also add that the shark doesn't even really eat people here, it merely swallows them. The sharks mouth is so big compared to a human there's nothing for it to chew, which kinda takes the horror out of it for me. Did...did we actually have a chase sequence in this movie?? We did, we actually did! Statham is inside a small submarine and is being chased by the Meg. In order to try and escape he's piloting this small submersible through all these little holes, cracks, and caves on the ocean floor whilst the shark chases him smashing through it. It was like something outta [i]Star Wars[/i]. Would a shark be [b]that[/b] bothered to eat this thing? Surely it can find easier prey? Isn't it hurting itself? Oh we had a topless scene for Statham, just thought I'd point that out. Yep he's getting out of the shower, all wet and glistening, someone knocks on his cabin door, its the attractive Chinese lady and she falls for him instantly. Awkward, embarrassingly hammy, cringeworthy...yeah this scene had it all. Also the inked up rock chick (Ruby Rose), what was with her hair? Was like permanently soaked in gel. And her face was always covered in obvious thick layers of makeup and fake tan, always looked perfect even after getting out of the water. Really movie? Really? K so this movie is obviously popcorn trash that does exactly what it says on the tin. Everyone knows what they're getting with this so there should be no complaints right? Well no. Despite that this movie is bad, real bad, and its a huge anti-climax. There is virtually no gore or shocks which surprised me. The effects are pretty lame for a modern blockbuster. Why did I not see that shark leap out of the water and take down one of those helicopters??!! Why movie?? It was right there, you had it. It would have been silly but with a flick like this I don't think that's anything to worry about. I mean I kinda respect director Jon Turteltaub for not going down that specific (B-movie) route but damn, that money shot went begging. Alas this let me down. A third-rate, sanitised copy of 'Jaws' essentially. [i]'smile you son of a bitch'[/i] now becomes [i]'chew on this you ugly bastard'[/i]. Bottom line, this is the quintessential example of a movies poster being infinitely more awesome and captivating than the actual movie.
Ever since Steven Spielberg's Jaws cemented the concept of a Hollywood blockbuster, sharks have been synonymous with the summer movie season. Just last year a small-scale indie thriller, 47 Meters Down, was a breakout hit with a planned sequel on the way (they ignored my obviously brilliant suggestion of naming it 48 Meters Down, thus proving each additional entry would move the depths a measurable increment of peril). People love them some killer shark movies and the bigger the better. Well it doesn't get much bigger than The Meg, a movie with a monstrous prehistoric Megalodon shark approaching 75 feet long (that's one half of 47 Meters Down, if you think about it). The Meg has enough awareness, payoffs, and fun to stay afloat and be a better B-movie. Deep under the Mariana Trench, a team of deep-sea scientists has discovered a new habitat previously cut off by man. From here emerges the Megalodon, a ferocious predator that has no earthly competition. The team seeks out the help of Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham), a one-man rescue squad who had a run-in with The Meg in his tragic past. The science team must rescue its trapped members, track and evaluate the shark, and prevent the ancient beast from feasting on the locals in the South China Sea. This is a big stupid shark movie about a big stupid shark, and The Meg provides enough fun to at least warrant one trip out into the water. It's a monster movie that follows a well-worn formula of discovery, containment, escalation, and then all-out large-scale disaster. I appreciated that the succession of events followed enough of a logistical cause/effect relationship that allows the audience to better suspend disbelief and stay within the movie's agreeable wavelength of campy thrills. This is the kind of movie that introduces a family of whales only to mercilessly kill them off screen as passing shark food. It's the kind of movie that knows we want to watch Statham punch sharks in the face. There's genuinely more shark action than I was expecting and the action sequences have been given consideration to maximize their popcorn thrills. I am used to recent shark movies that hinge on the threat of the shark as an aquatic Boogeyman, on the peripheral and always threatening to return. With The Meg, once the shark is loose it's a constant presence and persistent problem. There is one moment where our hero has to shoot a tracking device into its dorsal fin. He has to get close while also not disturbing the water and calling attention to himself. It's a well-engineered and developed suspense sequence that takes advantage of the fun possibilities at play. There are more moments like this that exemplify a degree of thinking and development than sloppy, slapdash CGI mayhem. This is a major co-production with China and it's easy to tell. It's a $130 million Hollywood hybrid with an inclusive cast, global danger, and the havoc wrought on the human population this time are Chinese beach dwellers running in panic. The co-lead is Chinese star Bingbing Li (Transformers: Age of Extinction) who is set up by literally every character to be the romantic interest to the dashing Statham. Even the man's ex-wife is on the same mission, trying to hook these two up. Statham banging this single mom is the key to bridging these two market forces together, apparently. Speaking of the man in question, Statham (The Fate and the Furious) is dependable and irony-proof no matter the absurd film scenario. He provides the audience a reliable anchor amidst the genre silliness, plus gratuitous shirtless beefcake shots. He can say the most ridiculous lines of dialogue with a straight face and make you believe it. He's also great with children. Some of his best moments are his interactions with little Meiying (Shuya Sophia Cai), the young daughter of Li's character. Statham is so charming and natural around children, and he's able to coax instant chemistry with a child actor. Why hasn't somebody given Statham a Rock-style family vehicle where he acts alongside a precocious group of kids? What if he's an over-the-hill action star helping a group of kids make their own amateur movie? What if he's an ex-special forces agent-turned-birthday party magician trying to fish out a hidden target? What if he's a retired movie star trying to coach a pair of kids how to get their parents back together? I never knew I wanted this. There's enough of a knowing awareness that let me know the filmmakers understood the goofy kind of movie they were making. It's not exactly turning to the camera and winking but it feels like it's nodding at you, asking you to play along. This is exemplified in Rainn Wilson's (TV's The Office) character Morris, the outspoken billionaire who founded the whole science station. He's general comic relief in a movie about a giant shark because The Meg doesn't treat the shark as comic. After discovering the creature, the science team is ready to take things slowly and cautiously, and Morris flatly screams that we have no time for slow here. When Jonas jumps into the water to take on the shark, it's Morris exclaiming how awesome it is. The best example is when one of the lead scientists takes a moment to bemoan the overreach of science in a "what have we done?" speech, and Morris just throws up his hands and walks away grumbling, disinterested in listening to any self-serious yammering. Morris kept amusing me because we were repeatedly alike in our commentary and requests for this film experience. Even with scaled-down expectations, The Meg is still a monster movie that probably needed to be campier or more frightening to be a better movie (I gave the same diagnosis to Krampus). It's a fun film that understands what a genre audience wants, though it could have pushed further and found ways to subvert those expectations or given us more mayhem. This isn't a tiresome so-bad-it's-good-but-it's-still-bad genre wankfest like the tacky Sharknado movies. It's also not the delightful, campy, gory B-movie that is Deep Blue Sea. It's a monster movie that has a sense of amusement and doesn't waste time pretending to be too serious even when the professorial characters are given to lament. It achieves a middle zone that satisfies enough of your cravings but not fully hitting them. Not quite as enjoyably dumb as the earlier Rampage, The Meg is still a relatively silly, splashy monster movie with solid thrills, action development, and a good sense of what its core audience demands and how to go about fulfilling that promise. Statham and company plow ahead through the genre shenanigans and make it out the other end bloody yet unscathed. My biggest criticism is that I wanted more; more camp, more carnage, more knowing nods, the kind I got in abundance in last year's gloriously entertaining Kong: Skull Island. It gave me enough of a tantalizing preview of the better movie it could have become. Still, The Meg is a slice of summer escapism that gave me enough thrills, laughs, and satisfaction to leave me wanting more but mostly content with what I ultimately got. Nate's Grade: B-
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