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The Meg (2018)
Movie Reviews

The Meg (2018)

An entertaining shark blockbuster that straddles serious and silly cliches of the genre.

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Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) is a deep sea rescuer, saving people from sunken submarines to bring them home. While on the deepest rescue mission in history, he has to leave people behind when the damaged sub is attacked by something large enough to crush  its hull with ease. Five years later, and Jonas has vowed never to go in the water again and lives the life of a drunkard in Thailand.

A high tech marine biology lab in the ocean, funded by billionaire Morris (Rainn Wilson) and run by Zhang (Winton Chao) and Mac (Cliff Curtis), is searching the bottom of the ocean under the belief that there is in fact a deeper section of the water than we’ve explored before. They send down a sub with The Wall (Olafur Darri Olafsson), Toshi (Masi Oka) and Jonas’ ex-wife Lori (Jessica McNamee) and discover their hypothesis is correct. They uncover a world of undiscovered sea life… but the majesty of the situation is disrupted when the sub gets attacked by a megaladon – an ancient, giant breed of shark larger than any creature alive today.

Cliff and Zhang recruit Jonas, against his better judgment, to come to their aid and rescue the sunken sub. In the process, he also first has to save Zhang’s daughter Suyin (Bingbing Li) who tried to do the rescue herself and got attacked. The mission is successful with only one casualty, but it also opened a tunnel of warm water for the megaladon to follow them to the surface! Now the massive beast is free and on a killing spree of the Asian coast, and only our team of misfit scientists know it’s around to be able to kill it!

The Meg – at first sight – feels like a bad Syfy original movie produced by The Asylum (the team behind such “classics” as the Sharknado franchise and Megaladon vs Sharktapus). The filmmakers have said in interviews they were afraid it would get compared to Jaws and Jurassic Park. Personally, I felt like it was somewhere in between… something closer to Deep Blue Sea. Not cheesy crap-on-celluloid like the Syfy originals, but certainly not classic material like the filmmakers mentioned.

This movie has a lot of fun moments that are surprisingly spread out with a lot of character-driven plot. So maybe the science isn’t perfect (or is it? Guess we’ll never really know), but it’s reasonable enough to suspend disbelief and have a good time. And in the midst of all that shark attack action, there’s plenty of inter-personal drama and relationship building (and destroying) galore!

The characters in this movie feel like real people, which is the biggest compliment a film packed with so much cheese-potential can get. Nobody really felt like a caricature or overly cliché versions of what we’d expect from a movie like this. Sure, there were the archetypes you’d expect… brash hero with a sordid history, the professional who is part of the hero’s sordid history and therefore they bump heads, the love interest, the wise-cracking token black guy, the buddy, the guy who thinks he’s always right (but never is), and the hot badass who’s probably a lesbian but we’ll never really know. Oh, and a cute little kid wise beyond their years.

OK… so, I take that back, there’s actually a lot of clichés going on here in terms of who the characters are. But the way they’re portrayed was original and felt real as opposed to replaying the same old people we’ve seen before. I know, it’s hard to explain, but trust me, you won’t realize the clichés until after watching it – and probably won’t mind after!

The film felt well-rounded in terms of acting and plot, and had some absolutely stunning camera work from cinematographer Tom Stern (American Sniper, Sully, The 15:17 To Paris). The movie is definitely more than I expected it to be and at least as good as I’d hoped. There are a couple twists to add to the fun, and enough ridiculousness to make you realize you’re watching a popcorn flick mixed in with the serious moments.

Overall, I’d say The Meg is a good time at the movies if you just want to be entertained for a few hours until the credits roll by. Just as long as you realize this isn’t a serious shark film, ala Jaws, but still nowhere near the ludicrous fakeness of the Sharknado mockbusters. There’s a surprising amount of “real movie” qualities and moments to just about keep it away from the Mystery Science Theater crew – but that shouldn’t stop you from having a great time watching.