THE MEG is the latest film from director Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure), based on the novel Meg by author Steve Alten, and is an over-the-top campy shark flick that will appeal to the masses in droves. The film stars everybody’s favorite action star Jason Statham (Furious 7), Bingbing Li (Transformers: Age of Extinction), Rainn Wilson (The Office), Cliff Curtis (Fear the Walking Dead), Winston Chao (1911) and Ruby Rose (John Wick: Chapter 2).
It’s been five years since Naval Captain Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) encountered an unknown disturbance during a rescue mission, which resulted in the death of some of his crew. With the weight of guilt on his shoulders, he has since retreated to Thailand where he’s living his best life in a state of constant intoxication. Meanwhile, his ex-wife and her team, on a mission to explore the how deep the Mariana Trench actually reaches, have found their submersive disabled after being hit from an unidentified force and are now stuck at the bottom of the ocean. With time quickly running out, it’s up to Jonas to rescue the team and bring them back to safety; however, something has escaped with them from that dark abyss, something that was once thought to be extinct, the largest marine predator that has ever existed… the Megalodon.
To say that I was excited about this movie would be a total understatement as I’ve been following along its production since reading the book. Though I was initially bummed to hear that Eli Roth wasn’t going to be attached to the project (due to creative differences and wanting an R-rating), I still had hopes for director Jon Tureltaub, as I’ve always found mindless enjoyment in the National Treasure films. When the trailer for THE MEG was released earlier this Spring, I was initially concerned with the shift in tone and presentation against what the book described. However, I reminded myself that this was just a trailer and I shouldn’t base my opinion until after seeing the movie. With that in mind, I went into full-fledged excitement mode because who doesn’t get excited about giant shark movies?
Having now seen the film, I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed. I figured it would be a mix of all the campy fun from Piranha 3D (minus all the gratuitous nudity and carnage), with some great moments of tension and suspense; however, aside from a few good comedic lines and seeing the CGI shark in all its glory, the film focused more on appealing to the masses than on making a terrifying shark flick. Though I felt that the film as a whole didn’t reach the potential it could have, it makes me wonder if there will be an Unrated and/or Director’s Cut that’ll show more of what they had to leave out.
The other issues that I had was the overall presentation and acting in the film. Some of the CGI looked to be on the verge of cartoonish which took me out of the experience, especially since a lot of these marine lifeforms were ones that should be feared. In regards to the acting, listen, I know we are talking about a gigantic shark film, but the majority of the performances could have been a tad more polished; also, I felt like a lot of the dialogue and reaction from certain characters mirrored that of Deep Blue Sea and no one should be fucking with that classic! Jason Statham is, of course, Jason Statham, and does exactly what God has intended him to do. I’ll be straight up with you, I would 100% want Jason Statham by my side in the event that a 70-foot, 200 million year-old, prehistoric shark is ever discovered hanging out in the ocean. Also, Rainn Wilson, who I love in just about anything, plays the billionaire investor, who is funding the company responsible for the research of the Mariana Trench, and consequently their discovery of the megalodon. He ended up being one of my favorite parts of the film and I thoroughly enjoyed his performance throughout. As for the rest of the cast… they were mediocre at best, which is saying something because I usually love Ruby Rose and Cliff Curtis but I felt as though they weren’t bringing their A-game. I also had a really difficult time believing Winston Chao’s character, Zhang, was the father of Bingbing Li’s character, Suyin. In real life there is only a 13-year difference between the two which I think made it even harder to believe that they were father and daughter on screen.
I purposefully wanted to try to be one of those people that doesn’t say “The book is so much better” but, sorry, it is. I think if you go into this film with no preconceived expectations or know anything about what the book entails, you’ll have a blast with THE MEG. I know I don’t sound super optimistic about the film, but there is a lot going for it that people will enjoy. In the end, I wanted to see some real carnage and bloodshed erupt but unfortunately THE MEG was being restrained in what they were willing to show. I will throw them a bone (pun intended) and say that they do show a moment or two of detached limbs but man, I can only imagine what this film would have been like had it been given that R-rating. In the end, if you love shark movies, then pick up THE MEG Blu-ray and let us know what you think. Until then, stay safe in the water…