THE MEG: Movie Review

As a kid I would have waited with great anticipation for this movie, probably having to beg my mom to let me go. And when I got there, I would not have been disappointed. Fourteen-year-old Ben would have dearly loved the movie The Meg. Adult Ben?

First , here is what Wikipedia says about the film: The Meg is a … thriller film directed by Jon Turteltaub with a screenplay by Dean Georgaris, Jon Hoeber, and Erich Hoeber, (very) loosely based on the 1997 book Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror by Steve Alten. The film stars Jason Statham, Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose, Winston Chao, and Cliff Curtis, and follows a group of scientists who encounter a 75-foot-long … megalodon shark while on a rescue mission at the floor of the Pacific Ocean.

Disney originally purchased the film rights to the book in the 1990s, but after several years in development hell, the rights landed at Warner Bros…. 

A Chinese-American co-production, The Meg was released in both countries … and received mixed reviews from critics, with some describing it as an entertaining B-movie and others calling “neither good enough — nor bad enough” to be fun.

And now what I say is The Meg was pretty much what I was expecting. Fun. Decent special effects (but not Jurassic Park quality, even the 1993 version). Okay acting (we are talking Jason Statham after all). And a tolerable script.

But it not 2018’s answer to Jaws. Don’t hope it. Don’t think it. It is like if Jaws were a 1970s made-for-TV movie. You know the kind? “Kids could be watching so we don’t want to get to gory or scary.” Jaws was 100 times scarier, and that came out in 1975. But then for those of you avoiding this movie because you thought it would be terrifying, this might just be your assurance that it is pretty unlikely to cause any nightmares or fear of swimming in the ocean (after Jaws, I could hardly swim in my pool at night).

It is like they couldn’t decide what they wanted to make. Something darned scary. Or a family movie. There were all kinds of cute jokes and lots of smiling and winking and Disney-like stuff. But it is a movie about a 75-foot shark that never seemed to fill its belly. How can you make that into a family movie?

I did like the Jaws jokes. The dog you see in the previews swimming and then turning tail when he sees the shark is named Pippin, which was the name of the shark-food dog in Jaws (Spoiler! This Pippin lives!). And the big beach scene has a boy asking his mom if he can go swimming—I won’t spoil that though. I am sure there were more that I missed.

One of my problems was that you could never really relate to how big the fish was. There were times it looked like a whale, and times it was “no bigger” that the one in Jaws (who was twenty-five feet, one third the megalodon’s 75). And the specials? They should have knocked my socks off. And they didn’t. 47 Meters Down, The Shallows and even Deep Blue Sea had much better (and all three were better/scarier). About the only scene that really got me was when we first really see the meg (which is in the movie previews) where it swims up to the window of the deep-sea lab and tries to chomp the little Chinese girl.

At least all the action didn’t take place at the deep-sea lab as some kind of remake of Deep Blue Sea. But that seemed to waste that lab at the same time. It was just background noise instead of being the center of shark attacks and terrifying “will they drown or be eaten” scenes.

Now The Meg is fun. I was just hoping for more. I wanted to be on the edge of my seat. I wanted to be roller-coaster scared. But there weren’t even cheap “sudden” scenes with surging music to make you jump in your seats (which I figured was what it would be all about).

I found the movie predictable, and not predictable at the same time. Which saved it for me. It could have waited for Netflix though, especially since we were able snag a 42” flat screen for an astonishing $250. I wanted to see it in the theater because I figured the specials would make it worth it. Fail. Oh well.

My advice? See The Meg. Just wait. Don’t take the whole family and spend theater prices with theater priced drinks and popcorn. Wait. It will be just fine.

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