Horror The Meg (2018) 6/10

Jethro

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Jan 21, 2013
"There's a monster outside and it's watching us." - Meiying

Five years ago deep sea rescue dude Jonas Taylor is attempting to retrieve the crew of a disabled submarine in the depths of the Mariana Trench when things go heavily pear shaped. The disabled craft comes under attack from something huge that is intent on destroy everything, Jonas has to abandon half his crew which leads to a dishonourable discharge from the military and pretty much erases his life specially as he raves on about a 70-foot sea creature that was believed extinct. The fact that Jonas didn't actually see the creature is beside the point, but you know plot requirements.

Back in the here and now Jonas has retreated to a beer swigging lifestyle in Thailand but is called back to the deep sea rescue biz when his ex-wife is trapped inside a disable sub thousands of meters down in a previously undiscovered undersea trench. During the rescue attempt Jonas comes face to face with his nemesis, a honking big megalodon, which thankfully is trapped in the trench due to a freezing water layer that it can't get though. Well not until a volcanic plume provides a highway to the surface. It's up to Jonas and a boat load of misfits to stop a prehistoric top of the food chain predator. You ready for a supersized portion of shark?

Back in 1997 some dude named Steve Alten managed to get a barely literate novel named Meg published, which put another nail in the coffin of the book market. Seriously this barely coherent mash managed to gain a fan base; primarily from the Seppo market we collectively call Trumpland or Bogans for the locals. Horribly I did actually read the book, calling it a novel would be giving it a grandeur it doesn't deserve, but had my review rejected. Guess when you submit "Total felgercarb" you can't expect them to hold the front page, maybe I should have added some more meat on the bone there. On the bright side I did get to count how many exclamation marks someone could drop on a single page, guess Alten has to replace his keyboard on a regular basis judging from the preponderance of the sneaky character in about every sentence Alten writes. The movie rights got snapped up and then the movie concept went into development hell at any number of studios, I mean silly freaking idea for a flick right, before finally being marched out of the studio doors of the second tier. Clearly everyone was rubbing their hands at the thought of a blockbuster, who doesn't like a giant shark movie, well turns out a whole bunch of people as The Meg failed to make anything like blockbuster status.

Interestingly the movie is a cross production between Hollywood and the Chinese equivalent, yeah we do sizable research here, which flows towards Boredwood's continued assault on a major new market, you can just see the dollar signs in studio executives eyes. So before anyone rambles on about social justice this is all about the money folks. On the bright side we get to spend some time with Bingbing Li (Suyin) and Shuya Sophia Cai (Meiying) who light up the screen and are definitely one of the bonuses of this movie. So Hollywood might have base motives but for movie goers we are getting a bunch of benefits from a match made in a cheque book.

To the movie itself, holy heck are we talking dumber than a box of hammers, don't even get down to the science which is to the left of looney tunes. The saving grace is the movie realises it's not exactly high drama and isn't taking things too seriously. What we are looking at is a movie that is all action, with the required human drama mixed in because that's what Hollywood script producers expect, and in no manner what so ever are we examining the human condition. So yeah if after a dumbed down B grade movie then you are definitely in the right place.

The problem is director Jon Turteltaub is having a bet each way without firmly committing to one course of action which would have raised The Meg to something like a memorable and rewarding experience. We're talking a B movie monster mayhem outing, except Turteltaub isn't prepared to dive deep into the concept and tries to ladle on some big budget sensibilities. We're talking a blockbuster, except the script ranges from ludicrous to self-referencing apparently at random as Turtletaub tries to channel Pacific Rim but instead looks early Bay Transformers right in the face, except for avoiding T&A completely. Schizo doesn't even come into it; from a thematic point of view this one is a chum line that doesn't attract much attention. Either get in the shallow end with The Asylum or dive into the deep end with blockbuster mania, stop paddling around the learner's pool with the kiddies.

There's an adage in poor movie making that you don't reference much more successful movies as it sort of turns a harsh spotlight onto the faults on display. Turteltaub spends a lot of time pointing out he is making a shark movie, just like you know Jaws, and for that matter Jaws 3, two sharks one boat right. I was actually face palming every time the Director did this, it would have been double face palm but I was holding a cup of hot coffee and wanted to avoid the sort of body injury The Meg is doing its very best to avoid showing. No Turteltaub the odd severed limb looked like exactly what it was, a synthetic prop. So the movie did achieve one thing, it made me want to go watch the Jaws movies again, a much better use of my time than watching this fish fillet.

So yeah quick comment on the T&A quota going down, PG13 rating Bro nothing on display, this movie is as prime as a Sunday Methodist meeting. Not much more I can say, a few chicks in bikinis, dudes in the budgie smugglers, but that's all she wrote folks.

I have some bad news for gore fans, there's no feeding frenzy going down. We get a few obvious props masquerading as severed limbs, but no real carnage in the water that we might have expected. For a movie about a honking big shark at an all you can eat buffet there's a singular lack of deaths going down, though you might be mollified to learn that there's absolute carnage off screen, yes that was sarcasm.

For the actual shark think CGI on a massive scale. I'm not saying this isn't successful but to be honest it took away from the movie for mine. I could appreciate the talent involved in creating the prehistoric beastie but at no time did I feel any chills during the ever size changing creature attacks. Guess the old adage about a bigger shark bringing bigger menace is long gone, looking at you Jaws 3; they needed a lot more blood in the water and a lot more brutal on display. For Heaven's sake the last time I saw a pampered pouch survive was in Friday the 13th Part 2 and that was way back in 1981, seriously are we talking a vegan shark here?

When movies are made specifically for a single market, and yes this one is aimed squarely at the rising Chinese one, then Hollywood tends to take a very cautious approach. Hence we get a giant shark movie which surprisingly lacks anything like the bite one could have expected; I'm putting that into the disappointed category. The Meg is safe generic stuff that does absolutely nothing new or ingenious. For those wondering, no you aren't looking at the fabled waters off China, you are actually submerging in the Hauraki Gulf, Auckland New Zealand. Must have been a hoot dealing with the Kiwi thought police while trying to get a few hundred local Chinese actors!

I've been following the Meg saga over the years so was always going to catch a viewing, albeit via disk and not down the local cinema. Can't say I was disappointed, wasn't expecting much to be honest, and got a reasonable dumb action movie without the thrills and spills. A lot of time is spent on setups and galloping towards the next "cool" scene, unfortunately this is at the expense of anything like tension or atmosphere. This movie is going to appeal to teen males and those of us who like some B grade monster mirth, most other people can safely assign this one to extinction and move on with their cinematic lives. Slight recommendation to the aforementioned demographics but don't expect anything approaching decent, something to catch up with on a rainy Sunday arvo.
 

Tom

An Old Friend
Joined
Dec 6, 2004
Location
Gulf Coast
I've watched this film 5 or 6 times now.
Its well-made as in production standards (Lord knows I see a lot of 'junk' movies)
but it is seriously lacking in what I consider a superior film.
Frankly, if Jason Stathum wasn't in it it would be a one and done.
Since I study films, I rewatched it a few times and it has a few moments but those moments are not really anything special. Too predictable. Too cliche'. Too over-the-top.
It "Jumped the Shark" in the opening sequence (pun definately intended).

However, I played it for a few different people that don't watch many movies and they loved it.
So, I believe any review I might give will be biased by my understanding and experience watching movies.

I recently watched Bird Box and it had more outstanding moments than The Meg.
Yet, when I played it for others, they thought it was boring? Go figure?
 

screenersam

This is news, Vincenzo, NEWS!
Joined
Jan 30, 2009
Location
Maryland
thx for reviews
sounds like a good background flick one night when too tired to think

there's a few that think real Megs are still around
 

Jethro

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 21, 2013
Yeah one of those movies that doesn't stand up when you analysis it but which fits into a sort of guilty pleasure zone. Screensam definitely put your brain in neutral while watching.

Waiting on Bird Box to drop Downunder on Netflix, which I think happens tomorrow ... problem there is my team are playing in the BBL Sat night and we have a home invasion on Sunday by out of starters.
 
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