Let’s face facts: a movie like The Meg is only for the kind of audience who appreciates a certain kind of film of B-grade pedigree, like that one movie with the CGI dragons and Craig Robinson or the one where a giant shark fights a mega octopus. If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve already made up your mind about the film.
Rather than do a conventional review, I opt for a simple Q&A with yours truly about the experience.
What is this film about?
It’s about man vs. nature. Man is represented by Jason Statham and a bunch of scientists, while nature is represented by a CGI giant shark named The Meg. Like in the movie title. Basically, Jason Statham gets called in to rescue people from a deep-sea expedition, one of them happens to be his ex-wife.
Turns out he had a sordid past where he left his crew to die in a submarine rescue mission, meaning that he has some history with some of the expedition crew members there. Of course, that bit in his past involves the titular character.
Wait, doesn’t Jason Statham has a name in the movie?
It’s Jonas -yeah the biblical allusions are as subtle as a sledgehammer to the face. But you’re going to call him Jason Statham regardless because he’s typecasted for this film: gruff, no-nonsense, British accent tough guy who gets shit done no matter what. At least they didn’t make him completely superhuman when fending off the sharks.
Is there a bad guy in this film apart from The Meg?
Well, there is Rainn Wilson as billionaire Morris. But from the way he acts and behaves after the second half of the film, he might as well wear a moustache and twirl it around.
There’s also another bad guy in the film, but I already gave it away in the previous question.
Hey, no spoilers!
Rainn Wilson’s villain role is so telegraphed and obvious, we’d be more surprised if he didn’t end up as shark bait. Also, it’s not like this film is going to kill off its main human actor, and you’re going to watch this film to see how the man vs. nature theme plays out.
Trust me, you’ll love the climax and action of this flick.
Ah well. This film should be done and over quickly, right?
Well, it’s close to 2 hours long. Yes, a monster thriller flick featuring sharks has finally reached that threshold. And surprisingly, I wasn’t bored at the very least.
Why is that, Mr Toffee?
Well, they fleshed out the potential shark bait, character-wise. At least the ones who obviously aren’t going to get eaten, like love interest Suyin (Bingbing Li), her daughter Meiyin (Shuya Sophia Cai), Jason Statham’s ex-wife Lori (Jessica McNamee), and that one scientist guy Mac (Cliff Curtis).
They got their moments, they come off as likeable, and the little spunky Chinese kid is charming without getting in the way of Jason Statham and co. Plus, Jason Statham and Suyin have good chemistry and work well together while also pandering to the “white guy hooks up with Asian girl” trope-loving demographic that’s prevalent in
Singapore SPG archetypes Southeast Asia.
Anything for the guys?
No T&A unfortunately, unless you count Bingbing Li and Jessica McNamee’s wetsuit ensemble. However, there’s a scene where Jason Statham is topless that is sure to make all the ladies & gay people swoon. It’s on-par with Chris Hemsworth’s shirtless Thor bit.
Let’s get to the nitty-gritty. How’s the gore?
Well, it’s a PG-13 movie, so all you’re getting is blood, animal guts, fresh dead mammal and fish carcasses, a severed hand, and people getting chomped PG-13 style.
What’s the death toll?
Quite a bit. 5 guys from the expedition bite it, along with a bunch of Chinese sharkfin hunters (very on-the-nose bit here), and a lot of Chinese swimmers and tourists in PG-13 fashion. I laughed really hard at the guy who was eaten while in the Zorb ball for some reason.
What’s really great about this bit is how it was framed and shot, where the film is building up the setpiece before The Meg goes all Pac-Man on these metaphorical pellets.
Strangely enough, the black guy scientist (Page Kennedy) makes it out alive.
Are there any thrills?
Quite a few jump scares, actually. We have one involving a giant octopus and a few surprise “gotcha” moments. In fact, the scene before the end credits gives us a different kind of “gotcha”, capping it off with a groan-inducing pun.
The suspense here is well-handled and framed adequately. A slightly higher-than-B-grade budget will do that to a film.
Should I watch The Meg?
Yes, but it depends. If you want a film where you don’t need to think too much about oceanography and marine science stuff while going “ooh” and “aah” at the CGI sights and sounds, go watch The Meg without any reservations whatsoever. It’s pretty, it’s got some decent humans you want to root for, and a lot of ship-slash-giant-shark action.
If you want a gorefest like the Pirahna 3D series, you’re SOL. The PG-13 rating means that your kills are either through explosions, quick Meg chomps, and fake animal gore.
I’d rate this movie a lot higher if it went all-out with an R rating, but it’s not every day you get a shark movie featuring Jason Statham. You could do worse, honestly.
If you want a thorough intellectual film about the follies of man tampering with nature and nature’s ancient ways, you might want to stop reading this because you got here by mistake.
What’s really nice about The Meg is that it knows what it is and revels in its thrills and action set pieces, while also making Jason Statham’s ego a lot bigger than usual. So there’s that.
Sounds nice. Anything else you want to add?
Masi “Hiro Nakamura” Oka is in it. We need to see more of this fella in future films.