The Meg (2018)

Off the coast a China, a research crew finds an unexplored part of the ocean and decides to explore it to see what may hide beyond the partial physical barrier. Once there, they find that probably should have left it alone. As they are rescued, something follows them to the open waters and causes havoc. Only one man seems to be the one able to contain the situation.

Based on the book of similar name, Meg, by Steve Alten, The Meg is a no holds barred, pedal to the metal, all kinds of insane big screen adaptation shot for 3-D film written by Dean Georgaris, Jon & Eric Hoeber, and directed by Jon Turteltaub that is so much insanity, it’s great. The film clearly knows what it had in its hands with the script and went for it without holding back on anything. It’s funny, it’s tongue firmly in cheek at times and more serious at others. They worked with the reputation of Jason Statham and his characters, showing they knew what they wanted to do with him from the start. The shark film tropes are taken to new heights (and weights) and this leads to an exciting, popcorn film type of a ride. The film is by no means perfect on the writing and directing front, but it has a ton of heart and is so much fun that it’s easy to gloss over its issues.

As this is a Jason Statham vehicle, he is clearly the lead and hero of the film, but things are not exactly as his fans are used to. Yes, he is the hero. Yes, he does plenty of heroic things. Yes, he gets to swim and fight the shark. But the part is a bit different, he smiles more, he looks happy even in some scenes, giving him a bit more range to work with from his usual taciturn troubled action heroes. Here he gets to be happy, worried, and the hero, more than what one has come to expect from film he’s in and he does it quite well too. Of course as a former Olympic-level diver (Seoul, 1988), he is the perfect action star for any film set on and in the ocean and his swimming is on point. His brooding is also on point and so is his man-of-the-hour-ness. The film works with his strengths and builds something that is fun to watch him in. Acting opposite in is Li Bingbing as Suyin, a researcher and adventurous lady willing to risk it all to save her friends and family.

She’s headstrong and intelligent, showing both of these at most points in the film with a few moments of wtf here and there. She adds to the fun of watching this and in a scene or two represents every women and men in how she reacts to and looks at her hero. Playing a not-fully-hate-able, at least at the start, billionaire is Rainn Wilson as Morris. He is the money man behind the research facility and he is coming for a visit at the worse time possible. He slides into the lab and the crew and wants to be involved. He’s annoying but not full-on grating so he’s easy to just let be in the film and the story. Counter-balancing his not-niceness is super sweet and precocious Shuya Sophia Cai as Meiying, Suyin’s daughter, and one of the characters that is allowed to just be. She’s adorable and fun to watch, not an annoying kid. She wise beyond her years of course, living on a research facility with a bunch of scientists and highly intelligent people, and she is one of the ways the viewer gets to connect with the film in the awe required for the story. Other cast members that are fun to watch even if a bit cliché at times are Masi Oka as Toshi, Ruby Rose as Jaxx, and Page Kennedy as DJ to name but a few. The cast of The Meg is definitely an ensemble one and they all work great together in this silliness that is this action-adventure film.

The Meg is one of those super glossy summer film filled with colors and well-shot but not exactly breaking the mold scenes. The cinematography by director of photography Tom Stern shows exactly what the viewer wants to see with great, expensive sequences where the megalodon gets to swim in and out of frame, giving a jolt to the viewer and the people in the film that are noticing it. His work is clear, crisp, and clean, showing everything in a manner that is very much what is expected from a major summer blockbuster. The film works well in 3D, but the images are definitely shot to work just as well in 2D. Showcased throughout these scenes are the special effects and visual effects made by an army of artists working for companies too multiple to list here. There work they do here show exactly what technology can accomplish in 2018, an almost flawless mega shark that looks believable on screen and in its augmented environment.

While the premise for The Meg sounds and feels like something that would be better suited for the SyFy channel, nested between Sharknado (from which it seems to borrow a closing title joke) and Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus, the film turns out to have a little something that puts it ahead of the competition, may it be Jason Statham or the budget, it is one of those big summer movies that is a must see on the big screen. It is not a majorly intelligent film, it’s more popcorn and leave-your-brain-at-the-door type of entertainment, but it moves at a fast pace, has plenty in there for everyone, knows its audience, and goes for broke at times with the stunts and the humor, making it one of those movies that many will rewatch over and over again.