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« Vintage '72 | Main | Showbiz History: The Vamp, a Psycho, and The Others »
Friday
Aug102018

Review: The Meg

by Chris Feil

Summer is for sharks at the multiplex and 2018 is no different. Recent highs include Blake Lively’s solo survival rendezvous with The Shallows and the lows have been last year’s spiteful low-fi 47 Meters Down. This year we get the highest concept and machoest of them all with The Meg, an amalgam of batshit tidied up into the most convincing guano bowl it can muster. But that’s fine, because witless mayhem is why you showed up in the first place. For something insane however, it isn't the whole hog disasterpiece of your schadenfreude fantasies.

And what do the shark invested waters have in store this time? Basically... a bigger shark. Consider it Mega-Shark Vs. Giant Sourpuss because we've got noted mean mugger Jason Statham at the head of this amusement ride...

Statham leads a deep sea crew that discovers a hydrogen-shrouded sub-ocean beneath the Mariana Trench (no, really) and unwittingly unearths an ancient megalodon into the ocean. That means a shark large enough to swallow whales, boats, and plotlines whole. Or at least your resistance to such daffiness, because it does somewhat win you over with its modest and essentially menace-free sense of fun. Abandon reason, but not necessarily ship.

Quite as you would expect, The Meg is delirious, humid nonsense. But where it disappoints is its missed opportunities. The ludicrousness of the megalodon’s invented deep sea home should provide a feast of silly monster movie goodness, and essentially gives us regular ocean fare. Our crew has high tech surroundings that never match the scale of its ubershark foe in showmanship, promising goofy gadgetry that never arrives. Even the camp factor is kept mostly at bay, favoring something tonally closer to a 90s midscale disaster film.

The film’s star however is wisely subdued. While one hardly recognizes Statham without a gun in his hands, he is a mostly delightful presence here for knowing precisely how much and how little to take this film seriously. His tough guy posturing is all there per usual but without the dull moroseness that makes his other actioners a drag. He is even somewhat aware that The Meg functions best as an ensemble piece rather than his usual star vehicles. Not for nothing, the film has its own levels of watchability for Rainn Wilson’s devious billionaire overlord, Bingbing Li’s surprising quippiness, and Page Kennedy’s audience surrogate voice of reason.

The Meg aims to answer the question “Can you polish a Sharknado into legitimacy?” Turns out, you can at least throw some money and a real star at it to elevate it, but that doesn’t mean it will completely satisfy.

Grade: C

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Reader Comments (12)

So if The Meg winds up as the top grossing film of the year, does it automatically qualify for the new Most Popular Oscar?

August 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterReady

My 13 year-old self would've been eager to see this. But my mature adult self knows to just rewatch Jaws instead.

August 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRob

But, does Statham take his shirt off???

August 10, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

forever1267 - THE MEG's primal urges are still chaste lol

August 10, 2018 | Registered CommenterChris Feil

Forever1267 asked the most important question, and the one I had. lol

August 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

Shark movies, like dinosaur movies, are such an easy sell to me that I will be seeing this even though I know, intellectually, it will not be a good movie. But dammit, it's a GIANT SHARK!

August 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPoliVamp

So boring. Silly as expected but you could not once ever suspend your disbelief to enjoy the silliness. I checked out completely when huge sections of the film were clearly shot on an indoor set with a tank ala The Truman Show even though it was meant to be outdoor day time on a boat at sea...insulting

August 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEoghan McQ

Nice post

August 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

Saw it. 95F/35C degrees out, and oh, the bliss of an air conditioned matinee.

I agree that the ensemble cast was one of the pleasures of the movie. International, diverse, women scientists. I had only known that Jason Statham was in this (love him) so I kept going, ooo Ruby Rose, hey Cliff Curtis, and that's... Mr. Longmire!

We thought it was a good summer popcorn movie.

The only plot hole that bothered me:

Spoiler:
Creatures don't survive alone. They survive in families, groups, herds, etc. That particular creature wasn't millions of years old. "Them" not "It".

August 11, 2018 | Unregistered Commenteradri

This: "That means a shark large enough to swallow whales, boats, and plotlines whole." LOLz!

August 13, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSan FranCinema

Statham DOES have a shirtless! shower scene, a rather gratuitous one. Easily the best part of a dumb dumb but mildly fun movie.

August 14, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

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