I didn’t hate The Meg, but I didn’t believe a second of it. But then you’re not supposed to.
Everyone knew that Steven Spielberg‘s Jaws was just a scary summer movie, but audiences were nonetheless persuaded that what they were seeing could be half-real. Spielberg did everything he could to make it suspenseful and flavor it up, throwing in clever tricks and diversions and making at least some of it stick to the ribs.
Meg director Jon Turtletaub has no such inclination. His weightless, stone-skimming film is part put-on, partly a Jaws competition piece and partly a $150 million theme-park jizzathon. It’s assembled like an early ’50s MGM musical, the shark encounters being the musical numbers, of course, and the dialogue scenes providing the usual connective filler.
I didn’t seethe and twitch as I sometimes do during bad movies. I sat there and guffawed from time to time, which I guess is a good sign.
The Meg definitely isn’t scary. It’s too dopey for that. It’s all about wank, wank, wank, wank, wank, wank, wank, wank, wank, wank, wank, wank, wank, wank, wank…”we have your admission and candy money…we don’t care so why should you?…eh, that wasn’t too bad…that one half-worked, the other one didn’t…please have all fat guys get eaten by the Meg…oh, look, a fat 12 year old kid…can the Meg eat him too? O joy and rapture!”
Every single guy with even a slight weight problem in this film becomes Meg food, or so I recall. Does Page Kennedy get eaten? I think so but I’m not 100% sure. I was zoning out during the last third — i.e., awake but glazed over.
Three Hollywood Elsewhere rules for shark movies: (1) Feel free to kill off fat guys and all fathers and secondary characters, but (2) no feeding women to the shark or you’ll have the MeToo! movement on your ass, and (3) never kill off an entertaining character who has a sharp-tongued, irreverent attitude thing going on.
You don’t want to hear about the plot or the set-up, which is all hand-me-down, by-the-numbers crap.
Jason Statham is the studly tough guy who has an early traumatic run-in with the Megalodon, a 75-foot-long prehistoric shark, in a kind of Octopus’s Garden in the Phillipine trench. An underwater research facility funded by a mildly overweight billionaire nerd (Rainn Wilson) with fairly atrocious taste in footwear. Oceanographers exploring a hidden ecosystem in the trench, blah blah, but the Meg tries to eat a submersible piloted by Statham’s ex-wife (Jessica McNamee) blah blah. There’s also a fetching marine biologist (Li Bingbing) who quickly develops the hots for Statham. Her oceanographer father (Winston Chao) is bland boredom personfied.
There are maybe five or six “musical numbers” during the first two acts (whew, that was close, almost got eaten!). In act three the Meg decides to chow down on a crowded swimming area a la Jaws….hors d’oeuvres! And then the big finale in which Statham singlehandedly dominates and defeats.
There are lots of homages to other water-logged films. There’s a scene in which a giant squid wraps itself around a submersible a la 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. There’s a “reviving an apparently drowned pretty woman” scene a la The Abyss. There’s a scene with a little flop-eared white poodle called Pippin getting eaten, just like another dog named Pippin got eaten in Spielberg’s film. There’s a cable-drag scene out of Jaws. At one point Statham mounts and rides the Megalodon like Gregory Peck‘s Captain Ahab in Moby Dick (’56), and there’s even a close-up shot of the Meg’s eye looking right at Statham — an exact copy of Moby Dick doing the same with Peck.