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Movie Review: “The Meg”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

The Meg

Theatrical Release: 8/10/2018

Theatrical Release: 8/10/2018

Synopsis

When a research group discovers new depths in the ocean, they send a group of scientists to the new terrain in the hopes of finding new species of plants and animals. When a small group of scientists get down there in their deep sea vessel, they quickly learn that a massive creature lives there. Whatever it is, it is massive, it is powerful, and it wrecks their vessel. Now the group of scientists inside are in trouble, and if anyone can save the scientists, it is Jonas (Jason Statham). 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 megalodon, a massive shark that was thought to have gone extinct millions of years ago. The species is the largest shark to have ever lived on this earth and it is about four times the size of a great white shark. Jonas is able to evade the megalodon and get back to the surface, but they soon learn that the deep sea beast as escaped the depths of the ocean. While acknowledging the miracle of discovering an animal previously thought to be extinct, this megalodon is simply too dangerous and to volatile to be left alive, as it could mean the deaths of thousands of people, as well as the extinction of other species. Thus, Jonas and his crew set out to find the beast and put it down.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

The Intensity (+8pts)

Morris (-4pts)

Jonas & Suyin (+5pts)

Cluttered Cast (-3pts)

Meiying (+3pts)

The Stakes (-4pts)

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Pro: The Intensity (+8pts)

This movie was not the next Jaws, and after having seen it, I can tell you that it never intended to be. Sure there was 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 was what the filmmakers were aiming for, then they definitely succeeded. This movie had 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. We saw Jason Statham going up against a massive killer shark in various, intense scenarios. Some scenarios took place in the ocean's darkest depths, where one was unable to see the megalodon until it was too late. Other scenarios took place on the ocean's surface where characters could see a monstrous fin coming at them, but were almost completely helpless to do anything about it. Fortunately, these intense scenes were not few and far between. They happened regularly, and it resulted in my eyes being fixated on the screen for a majority of the movie, eating popcorn as if it were going out of style.

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Con: Morris (-4pts)

I do not have too much to say about Morris (Rainn Wilson), besides the fact that he was extremely one-dimensional. He had a couple funny lines, but he was really just the stereotypical rich guy who was only concerned with himself. He wanted fame and he wanted money. If you are imagining the most stereotypical version of that character, then you are imagining Morris. The unfortunate result of this was that he became very predictable. We have seen this character before, so it made it easy to know what to expect from him, and he really never strayed away from that expectation. He was not the main character, nor was he the main villain—that is definitely the megalodon—but his role was significant enough to make his predictability worth mentioning.

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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) was the guy people brought in to rescue people who found themselves in trouble in extreme ocean depths, but he had a checkered past. Suyin (Bingbing Li) doubted Jonas’ abilities and attempted to rescue her team on her own. This then sparked romantic tension between the two characters.

I liked the two characters individually and I liked their romantic tension when they were together on screen. Jonas thought little of Suyin's capabilities of rescuing the team on her own—because if she was capable of doing so, then why would Jonas have been brought in?—but Suyin had a competitive fire that drove her to trying to prove everyone wrong. On top of both of their opinions of the other, they also had a romantic spark. It was definitely a cheesy romance, but the whole thing played out on screen comedically, instead of seriously, and I thought it worked well. Whether it was the cheesy interactions between the two characters or the cheesy reactions from side characters, it felt like the filmmakers were self-aware of how ridiculous this pairing was at times, and they 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, and I thought this cheesy romance was a great complement to the movie's more intense moments, of which there were plenty.

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Con: Cluttered Cast (-3pts)

I thought that each of the side characters had potential, but the filmmakers just crammed too many of them in here. For a movie like this, you would expect that a cluttered cast of side characters meant there would be plenty of shark kills. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Did any of them die? You will have to see the movie to find out, but what I can say is that either no one died, or their deaths did not make much of an impact.

The main reason for this was 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 ended up getting was about ten generic side characters that were not memorable and meant nothing to the story, and they did not even die in entertaining ways, so I did not understand the point in giving some of them any attention at all.

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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 have to save. However, this character was something else, as the things she said and did were actually entertaining, and the other characters’ reactions to what she was doing made for some fun moments. Meiying was a very minor role, but she will have audiences laughing periodically throughout the movie.

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Con: The Stakes (-4pts)

One thing I thought this movie was missing was stakes. Now I understood that if the group failed to contain the megalodon problem, many people would die. However, through all the cheesiness, I did not get the impression that the characters really felt the weight of the situation, and as a result, I did not really feel the weight of the situation either. I got the impression that, once the megalodon 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 should I?

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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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 delivered the tone of a cheesy action movie. The dialogue was super cheesy, and the action was pretty 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 was without its flaws. Morris was a very one-dimensional character and the supporting cast was cluttered with characters that audiences will not care about. Fortunately, Meiying was an surprisingly strong 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 think you would enjoy a movie with intense action, and which never takes itself too seriously, then you will have a good time watching The Meg.

Comments

Sam Shepards from Europe on September 15, 2018:

Seems more like a "big budget B movie", but looks like fun.