REVIEW: The Meg (2018)

Theatrical Release Poster – Warner Bros. Pictures

The following is a review of The Meg – Directed by Jon Turteltaub.

Jon Turteltaub’s The Meg, short for Megalodon, is a film based a series of novels from author Steve Alten. The film follows Jonas Taylor (played by Jason Statham), a rescue diver who believes a giant sea creature was responsible for the destruction of a submarine, as well as the lives lost in the destruction. 

Years later, Taylor is hired to rescue the crew of a submersible, which was on a mission to explore a deep section of the Mariana trench. During the mission, Taylor’s beliefs are confirmed, when a giant shark thought to have been extinct — a Megalodon — appears out of nowhere in an attempt to prey on the crew of the submersible. The rescue mission lures the giant shark out of its depth, and now Taylor and his team must try to take down this ancient sea creature before it starts feeding on beachgoers and sailors.

I like shark movies, but I don’t think of them often. My father, on the other hand, is obsessed with them. Name a shark film and there is a good chance that he has seen it. For good reason, Jaws is his favorite film, but he also loves Deep Blue Sea and Open Water, as well as recent ‘hits’ 47 Meters Down and The Shallows. So, if I were to ever watch this film, it, obviously, had to be with my father.

So, I watched it with him. And he loved it. While he recognized that it wasn’t what he would consider a ‘great film,’ he had a lot of fun with it. It was the ideal popcorn movie for him. Watching the film with him was a lot of fun, but while there were admittedly moments I really enjoyed, I was annoyed by how, I felt the film was at war with itself and not willing to decide which kind of film it wanted to be thus leaving a mess of a film that wasn’t bold enough to be as crazy as it could be.

Since the film’s release, it has been suggested by the film’s leading man that the project aimed for a different tone. Statham is said to have been confused by the lack of bloody shark action, whereas Turteltaub, supposedly, wanted this to be the summer shark versus Statham movie that it, sort of, ended up being.

If indeed the script originally promised a ‘darker’ or ‘more serious’ film, then I think the film actually proves that with the sharp shift from the first sequence to the next scene, and the tonal shift is even more pronounced when you compare the opening scene to the very end.

The opening sequence of The Meg promises something very serious. Jonas Taylor makes a tough decision that may have cost lives, and it also ruins his career. This very much does feel like the kind of film that, it seems Jason Statham wanted. A bloody monster shark movie with actual casualties.

Then there is a time jump, and the next thing we see is Rainn Wilson’s character, Jack Morris, who finances an underwater research facility. His poor attempt at speaking a foreign language is made fun of, and he proudly wears a snapback cap and expensive sneakers. This is a cartoonish character, and he does not at all fit within the universe hinted at in the opening sequence.

The utterly serious and potentially terrifying opening sequence is even more at odds with the very end of the film, which concludes with a tongue-in-cheek end title card. That title card is more in line with the rest of the film, which leans towards corny and immature jokes and spectacularly ridiculous falls out of boats.

The way you are going to react to this film largely depends on your expectations for it. If you want to see a shark film with plenty of blood, casualties, drama, and whatnot, then you should probably look elsewhere.

However, if you want, and expect, a big budget Sharknado-like prehistoric sea creature popcorn movie, then there is a good chance you’ll have fun with the illogical jumpscares (how does a 75-foot long shark sneak up on you?), the immature dialogue, the over-the-top death scenes, and the visual references to other shark films.

But even then it isn’t quite as excessively over-the-top as the Sharknado-films, and The Meg doesn’t really find its footing before the first hour of this much too long movie is over. That said, it is a lot of fun seeing a 5′ 10” tall action star take on a supersized shark, as well as to watch that same shark jump on top of a boat. The film mostly works as an entertaining popcorn film in the vein of Piranha 3DD, and it can easily be marketed as a mixture of Jaws 3D and Rampage.

The Meg doesn’t try to be the ‘great film’ that my father acknowledged that it wasn’t. It makes sure to let us know what kind of film this is with the kind of jokes the characters in the submersible make. This film is strongest when it fully lets itself be a dumb, silly popcorn film, and it is at its weakest when it tries to cater to both audiences. The problem is that the film isn’t ever ‘crazy’ enough to make it worth seeing. In the end, The Meg is nothing more than an utterly forgettable immature shark film.

5.5 out of 10

– Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.

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