Thursday, August 9, 2018

Film Review: The Meg

The quick summary of The Meg is as follows: this is the Jason Statham movie that I can trick my wife and son in to seeing, because they love giant prehistoric sharks*, and I like the guy who makes bald dudes viable action heroes. It's a perfect mix!

The Meg is a very old school film, but it's got some interesting modern quirks. It's been adapted --loosely-- from Steve Alten's novels, specifically the first one, but you'll find maybe about 40% of the book's inspiration mixed in to the movie, which presents a more "everyman" hero in Jonas Taylor's character, and moves the action to the Pacific Rim where the Meg gets to terrorize various locales in Asia in a manner that leaves me pretty sure this movie is actually specifically aimed at the Chinese market, and if it does well in the US that will be a happy coincidence. Nothing wrong with this; some of the scenes involving the shark terrorizing the coastal beaches in China are evocative of the original Jaws and are great additions to the movie.

Many of the characters from the original book are loosely represented here, or adapted to new roles; if you read the book you may expect Jonas's ex-wife to be a more conniving sort of person but in the movie she's a deep sea researcher and also a good person. Ruby Rose shows up as (more or less) herself, once again feeling like the obligatory character designed to target multiple modern demographics with as little direct effort as possible. Also, no son of Jonas anywhere (if you read the book you know what I mean), and in fact the film often felt to me like the screenwriters liked their characters too much; not nearly as many people die in this film as you'd expect, and the tone of the film is much more along the line of "epic maritime adventure with a dash of SCIENCE!" and far less of the "horror, with big damn sharks."

Anyway....a completely authentic modern B movie. Which means it's a fine B- or maybe a C+, I just can't decide.  On the plus side, it was fun watching Statham play a role where he (SPOILER) technically, right up until the last confrontation, does not solve a problem with kung fu. And then he kinda sorta does (well, with a spear).

Fun Spoilery Bits:

1. The movie contrives a weird explanation for why Megs live in the deep undetected. It almost sounds plausible, but lacking much familiarity with oceanography I am sure somewhere deep sea researchers are groaning. Maybe even Steve Alten, after he cashes some checks.

2. Was it just me or was the underwater glass tunnel set for the research station really just there for the Meg to bite it?

3. Fat Kid in the water!

4. I wonder what sort of strength it would take to jam a spear several feet into the eye of a giant shark. Statham strength, that's what!

5. Rainn Wilson as Morris, the "Elon Musk of the sea, but dumber and more manipulative" was a perfect casting.

*It could also be the giant shark movie that my wife and son tricked me in to seeing because it had Jason Statham in it.....

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