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TAC Reviews...The Meg

 

Loosely based upon the book Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror by Steve Alten, The Meg is a 2018 film that stars Jason Statham, Ruby Rose and Masi Oka as Toshi. The rights to the book were originally purchased in the 1990s, but the film languished in development hell for years when it was finally green lit in 2015 appearing in cinemas in 2018.

 

The Meg Poster

 

Okay so we have a film about a Megalodon which was a prehistoric shark which grew to such immense sizes that it made the great white shark look like a goldfish by comparison. I have seen trashy films like Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus which had some of the worst CGI and acting I have ever seen, but the films knew they were awful and just kind of ran with it. A big budget film with such stars as Jason Statham and Ruby Rose onboard should be pretty decent, right? Right??

 

Let’s take a look to find out...

 

Jonas Taylor (Statham) is a rescue diver attempting to save the crew of a damaged nuclear submarine, as he carries an eleventh survivor he witnesses something crumpling the side of the sub like paper and trapping two of his own crew onboard. Realising that they cannot be saved Jonas launches the deep-submergence rescue vehicle abandoning his crew mates to die but saving everyone else onboard.

 

5 years later, billionaire Jack Morris heads to a facility that he has financed named Mana One that has been designed and built to study deep sea life, specifically the Mariana Trench, which the scientists believe may go deeper than they initially thought. Whilst on an expedition to the trench the team’s submersible is able to pass through a cloud of hydrogen sulphide that created a false bottom to the trench which does indeed go deeper than science previously thought. The cloud basically created a barrier between the deeper part of the trench and the sea above creating a world cut off from the rest of the ocean. The submersible is attacked by something large and the crew are trapped at the bottom of the trench with little chance of rescue.

 

Meanwhile Jonas has been living in Thailand for the last few years after being discredited following the rescue five years before. One of the people he rescued was a Doctor named Heller who believed that Jonas was suffering from pressure induced psychosis which would account for his believing something crushed the hull of the sub, and it was the reason why he left two people to die. Heller is working on the Mana One and is less than happy when Jonas is recruited to head the rescue mission to retrieve the damage sub’s crew.

 

Jonas is successful in saving two of the three member submersible team when they are attacked by an immense shark, a living fossil, a Megalodon. The damaged submersible is destroyed and triggers an underwater thermal explosion. Fleeing back to the Mana One the team are horrified to learn that the massive fish has managed to escape the world below the cloud layer when the thermal vent exploded.

 

Now the largest shark the world has even known is free and very hungry...

 

Let me pose a question: Is Megalodon a silly name???

 

In films like Jurassic Park we have the T-Rex, and Velociraptor. Alien the xenomorph, Underworld the lycans, all of which sound like names. I know that the Megalodon was a creature that existed but it is still only a hair away from being called Mega Shark. Still, it is the scientific name for the shark species so despite it being a bit stupid there is nothing that we can do other than stick a pin in that point.

 

Okay, so we have a giant shark, presumably just one member of a wider species. It has been trapped under the sulphur cloud for around 2 million years, once the cloud breaches it is able to escape. Thing is according to Blue Planet David Attenborough said that species that live at such extreme depths would instantly die if they were brought to the surface because their bodies are adapted to the pressures. Also as no light what-so-ever can penetrate to the bottom of the deepest oceans most animals are either blind or their eyes are barely used. Therefore, how the hell can a shark that has adapted for such depth rise to the surface without exploding the moment the pressure nearer the surface is less than what its body is adapted to?? Plus why did it not go instantly blind once its eyes, adapted for hunting in darkness, were suddenly exposed to the sun for the first time??

 

I guess the light thing could be explained because under the sulphur layer there are creatures that use bioluminescence, but again according to Blue Planet, animals that live in the darkness of the deep ocean focus on seeing without being seen. If everything is glowing then surely the Megalodon once it breaches the layer would be blind without the bioluminescence of the world it left behind.

 

If we forget science and remind ourselves that we’re watching a film about a giant shark, is the film itself decent even if the premise is a little silly??

 

Sadly not.

 

The tone of The Meg is all over the place. There are times when it is just being a bit of a cheesy monster movie, when the characters are having some banter with one another, but then a few seconds later they are trying to have an emotional moment. Neither of which gel very well together. Either be a serious film, or be a cheesy monster movie, don’t try to be both. Tremors was a great monster movie and knew exactly what it was so it was fun, and entertaining to watch, The Meg is not funny enough to be silly, but too serious to be a popcorn movie.

 

The acting is alright but I don’t think that anyone is really bringing their A-game to the proceedings. Statham is more at home in roles like The Transporter, or The Expendables, and whilst he does a reasonable job here his character’s motivations are all over the map. The pilot of the submersible that is damaged at the bottom of the Trench is Jonas’ ex-wife and she is the reason he goes to her rescue. But she is barely in the rest of the film and Jonas spends most of his time flirting with the hot scientist lady who is clearly gagging to have a go on his smoking barrel.

 

Whilst Abbie and I were watching I remarked to her that it felt like one of Michael Caine’s pay check movies. If you don’t know actor Michael Caine was known for talking roles just for the pay check or because he wanted to film in a particular location. Jaws: The Revenge was legendarily bad but Caine took the role after reading a line in the script which said “Open on Hawaii” (or words to that effect) and as he wanted to do a film in Hawaii he took the role. He was also once asked if he’d seen the finished film, and he said “No, I heard it was awful, but I’ve seen the house it paid for and that was lovely” (again or words to that effect). This film feels like an excuse for the cast to play around in the water for a few months during filming.

 

There is some character development but naturally it is painfully obvious. Doctor Heller, doesn’t believe that Jonas saw the hull of a nuclear sub being crashed and thought he was a coward just looking to save himself. Naturally when Jonas is proven right, Heller apologises and then chooses to sacrifices himself so Jaxx (Rose’s character) can escape the Meg. But I’m sorry a doctor is a more useful member of the team than Jaxx, the designer of the facility, so after Heller is killed. Sexy scientist lady’s father dies of his injuries because there is no doctor around to treat him.

 

People keep trying to have the Who can have the noblest Death competition which got increasingly irritating as the film went on.

 

Plus, that’s a point, it is implied that the nuclear sub in the beginning is attacked and disabled by the Meg, in another deep sea trench, but that would mean that the Meg is not trapped beneath the sulphur level everywhere in the ocean so is free to go wherever it wants anyway, so why have we only seen one now??

 

The premise isn’t that farfetched as again according to Blue Planet less that 1% of the deep ocean has been mapped so for all you humans know it is possible there might be something lurking down there somewhere. However, it just bothered me that the moment the shark penetrates the sulphur layer it high-tails it to the surface when it’s habitat is the deep sea.

 

If the film has focussed on an underwater lab that is attacked and the survivors have to try to escape to the surface then that might have been more entertaining, but then we’d basically just been watching Deep Blue Sea.

 

The CGI is pretty good and the Megalodon is approximately a billion times more convincing that the Mega Shark of the Mega Shark Vs whatever films (yes there is more than one Mega Shark film) so that is a plus.

 

In the grand scheme of things there are certainly worse shark films, but also there are ones that are considerably better too.

 

All in all though there isn’t really enough to recommend The Meg, it isn’t a cheesy popcorn movie because it is taking itself too seriously, but its concept is too stupid to be anything other than tongue-in-cheek which the film sadly is not. I was going to leave my Thumb Horizontal but ultimately the film was not good and spent a lot of time ripping off better shark movies like Jaws and Deep Blue Sea which forces my Thumb Down.

 

 

4/10 – The CGI is pretty good but it is about the only thing that is. The makers should have watched Blue Planet first and corrected all of the scientific inaccuracies, then we might have got a decent film. I guess if you like shark movies it is worth a watch but there are much better films out there.

 

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© Chris Sharman