Movie Review: “The Meg”
When a research group discovers new depths of the ocean, they send a group of scientists to the new terrain in the hopes of finding new species of plants and animals. When they get down there, they quickly learn that there is a massive creature down there as well. Whatever it is, it is massive, it is powerful, and it wrecks the vessel. If anyone can save the scientists, Jonas can. Thus, Jonas takes his own vessel down to attempt a rescue mission.
When he gets down there, he learns what the creature is. It is a megaladon, a massive shark that was thought to have gone extinct millions of years ago. It is the largest shark to have ever lived on this earth and is about four times the size of a great white shark. Jonas is able to evade the megaladon and get back to the surface, but they soon learn that Jonas was followed. The megaladon has escaped it’s deep ocean prison and must be stopped before it kills thousands of people.
The Pros & Cons
The Intensity (+8pts)
Jonas & Suyin (+5pts)
Cluttered Cast (-3pts)
The Stakes (-4pts)
Pro: The Intensity (+8pts)
This movie is not the next Jaws, and after having seen it, I can tell that it never intended to be. Sure there is a killing machine in the form of a shark but, while Jaws aimed to terrify audiences, I feel like the filmmakers of The Meg aimed to create a cheesy, intense action movie. If that is what the filmmakers were aiming for, then they definitely succeeded. This movie has a ton of intense action that repeatedly had me on the edge of my seat.
It did not have a complex or compelling plot, but the movie was strong where it needed to be. The movie sees Jason Statham going up against a massive killer shark in various, intense scenarios. Some scenarios take place in the deep, dark ocean where you cannot see the monstrous shark until it’s too late. Other scenarios take place on the surface where characters can see the fin coming at them but are almost helpless to do anything about it. What makes this better is that the intense scenes were not few and far between. They happened regularly and it resulted in my eyes being fixed to the screen for a majority of the movie, while eating popcorn as if it were going out of style.
Con: Morris (-4pts)
I do not have too much to say about the character, besides the fact that he was extremely one-dimensional. He has a couple funny lines, but really he is just the stereotypical rich guy who is only concerned about himself. He wants fame and he wants money. If you are imagining the most stereotypical version of that character, then you are imagining Morris. The unfortunate result of this is that he also becomes very predictable because we know what to expect with this character. He is not the main character, nor is he the main villain (that is definitely the megaladon), but his role is significant enough to make this worth mentioning.
Pro: Jonas & Suyin (+5pts)
I was not going into this movie expecting strong, developed relationships between any of the characters. I was expecting a mindless blockbuster style movie and, while I got exactly that, there was the bonus of an entertaining romantic relationship. Jonas’ (Jason Statham) job is to rescue people who find themselves in trouble in extreme ocean depths, but he has a checkered past. Suyin (Bingbing Li), doubts Jonas’ abilities and attempts to rescue her team on her own. This then sparks romantic tension between the two characters.
I liked the two characters individually and I liked their romantic tension when they were together. The romantic relationship was definitely cheesy, but the cheesiness was played as comedy which worked well. Whether it was cheesy interactions between the two characters or cheesy reactions from side characters, it felt like the filmmakers were self-aware and deliberately made this relationship as silly as possible. I thought this awareness worked well, as I ended up being a big fan of this storyline. The light hearted nature of this relationship was a perfect complement to the very intense scenes that filled this movie.
Con: Cluttered Cast (-3pts)
I thought that each side characters had potential, but the filmmakers seemed to cram too many of them in here. For a movie like this, you would expect that a cluttered cast of side characters means there will be plenty of memorable deaths. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Do any of them die? You will have to see the movie to find out. All I am saying is that either no one died, or their deaths were not memorable or impactful.
The main reason for this is that there were too many characters to really care about them all. In addition to that, the light hearted nature of the filler scenes prevented the filmmakers from being able to give us impactful scenes where the surviving characters could grieve for their friends or fear the megalodon. What we end up getting is about ten generic side characters that are not memorable and mean nothing to the story. I just could not help but think they were a huge waste of screentime.
Pro: Meiying (+3pts)
I will keep this short because I do not want to give anything away when it comes to this character, but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Meiying. When you have a kid in a story like this, it is usually just adding something for the protagonists to save. The things she does and the things she says were actually really entertaining, especially based on the other characters’ reactions to what she is doing. Meiying was a very minor role, but she will be memorable and will have audiences laughing throughout the movie.
Con: The Stakes (-4pts)
One thing I thought this movie was missing was stakes. Now I understand that, if the group fails to contain the megaladon problem, many people will die. However through all the cheesiness, I did not get the impression that the characters really felt the weight of the situation. I got the impression that, once the megaladon was loose, the characters were really just in it for self-preservation. This made the beach scene have little to no impact with the audience, because the main cast did not seem to care about anyone outside of their group. The stakes were there if you are looking for them, but the characters did not seem to feel that weight, so why would audiences?
Grade: B- (80pts)
The Meg was as good as it was because it did not try to be the next Jaws. Instead of focusing on a horror-thriller tone, The Meg delivers the tone of a cheesy action movie. The dialogue is super cheesy but the action is super intense. The filmmaker knew what this movie was. They steered hard into what audiences were expecting and, as a result, delivered a movie that exceeded those expectations.
That is not to say this movie is without its flaws. Morris is a very one-dimensional character and the supporting cast was cluttered with characters that audiences will not care about. Fortunately Meiying was an surprisingly great comedic relief and I actually found myself enjoying the romantic tension between Jonas and Suyin. Ultimately, this movie will not blow anyone away, but if you would like seeing a lot of intense action in a movie that never takes itself too seriously, then you will have a good time seeing The Meg.