When a team of marine biologists venture into a previously undiscovered ocean trench, they find an entirely undisturbed ecosystem. Among this wondrous aquatic life, however, they encounter something that makes “Jaws” look like a goldfish.
In “The Meg’s” titular role is the megalodon, an ancient 75-foot shark with an insatiable appetite. After a confrontation with the megalodon leaves the team’s submarine stranded on the ocean floor, the research facility sends in the best rescue diver they can find: Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham). Unfortunately, in his efforts to get the team back to the surface, Jonas ends up paving a road for the megalodon to follow. With this prehistoric beast on the loose, the team scrambles to kill it before it can reach populated shores.
Ultimately, “The Meg” is a generic monster movie through and through. The director, Jon Turteltaub, is also responsible for movies such as “National Treasure” and “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”, which should tell you something about how cheesy “The Meg” often comes across. It’s still a fun watch, but in the mindless, uninspired way that most monster movies are nowadays.
The cast features a few familiar names such as Li Binging, Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose, Cliff Curtis, and, of course, Jason Statham. The acting is neither terrible nor compelling, but sits in some forgettable middle ground.
Similarly, the soundtrack was surprisingly mundane. The trailer’s use of Bobby Darin’s “Beyond The Sea” was wonderfully tongue-in-cheek, but the song was nowhere to be found in the movie itself. Instead, the only song I recall playing was a Thai version of Toni Basil’s “Hey Mickey.” Twice.
Prior to seeing “The Meg”, I had hoped the movie was going to be self-aware enough to poke fun at itself. After all, the trailer seems to suggest this when Rainn Wilson’s character states, “He certainly looks heroic” about Jonas. Perhaps naively, I had taken this as a sign that the movie might make light of common tropes. But aside from this instance and another mention of Shark Week, the movie seems to take itself seriously – too seriously, for a movie about a giant, extinct, man-eating shark.
Though I’m a fan of both “Jaws” and “Sharknado”, this movie seems to have fallen into the crack (or trench) between the two. “The Meg” is neither skillful enough to be taken seriously nor lighthearted enough to have “Sharknado’s” B-movie charm.
That being said, it’s hard not to be entertained by a massive shark wreaking havoc on beach-goers. If nothing else, the terrifying visuals and jumpscares featuring the shark are sure to make a few people think twice about plunging into the ocean.
My advice to potential viewers is don’t watch the trailers. Virtually all the best scenes in “The Meg” are shown in the trailers, which created a very frustrating movie experience. There were some truly gripping visuals that were effectively ruined just because the filmmakers didn’t have the restraint to save them for the actual movie.
All in all, “The Meg” took a big bite out of missed opportunities. While it’s still a fun monster flick to end the summer with, it easily could have been a lot better. Had it embraced a better soundtrack and a more playful, campy tone, “The Meg” could have been a much more memorable film.