The Meg – A Second Opinion by Kevin Olohan
Director: Jon Turteltaub
Producer: Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Colin Wilson, Belle Avery
Writer: Dean Georgaris, Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber
Starring: Jason Statham, Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose
“You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”
The line from an obscure early Steven Spielberg film called Jaws, a 1975 movie that was so massive it is considered the very first “Summer Blockbuster.” It not only instigated a Hollywood hit-making mentality we are still subject to the joys and horrors of today, it also created a world wide fear of Sharks. This has spawned dozens of would be copycats including three, (yes three) direct Jaws sequels, The Sharknado franchise and a movie that I personally have a soft spot for which combines the plots of Jaws and Jurassic Park to give us the Thomas Jane/LL Cool J buddy movie no one ever wanted: Deep Blue Sea. Now in 2018, we’re here again with…*sigh*…The Meg.
Before I get going, let’s talk about the story: SHARK BIG, BALD MAN STOP SHARK…Sorry I don’t know what happened there…ahem…A group of scientists are excavating at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest point on the planet. It goes awry when they accidentally release from beneath the ocean floor, a 75 foot Megalodon shark, thought to be have been extinct for more than two and a half million years. So they hire (real life former diver) Jason Statham to stop it.
To play fair, in its lead up marketing campaign, The Meg was very self aware and played up it’s ridiculousness with tag lines like “Opening Wide on..” and “Chomp on this,” Bobby Darin’s Beyond the Sea playing over the trailer, and of course a tiny dog swimming away from our giant shark. If the movie itself was this tongue in cheek, they might have had something, but of course, that was a marketing department’s response to an internet meme driven culture, and not at all a reflection on the actual product itself. Which arguably takes itself too seriously, or needs to take itself way more seriously. To explain, the film has a fun and ludicrous nature, but it also makes a strong statement about the environment, and our treatment of sharks. Ironically we come full circle, as this movie is in part a condemnation of the cinematic world Jaws created. Many of the scientists are on the sharks side. They know it must be stopped, but they don’t want to kill it. These are actually some really interesting concepts which could have worked were it not for the sillier moments. As a result of this being a Summer Blockbuster, trying to tick as many boxes as possible, it becomes a movie for no one.
Also, The big shark thing has been done a lot already. Even one of the Jaws sequels did it. And as we have well learned at this stage: Bigger does not mean better, for this very simple reason: No chomp action. If a shark can just swallow people, it’s not scary. The bite is worse than the swallow. That may seem a tad sadistic, but let’s remind ourselves of this movie’s tagline: Chomp on this! This advertised itself as fun B-Movie shlock, it isn’t that. And, it’s a PG-13 movie so…there’s no blood. I just thought I’d throw that out there…because I’ll be honest, in a shark movie, I was expecting some blood. To pull back a bit, Another reason why Jaws works so well and barely any other shark movie has, is something that was done out of budget necessity, You barely ever actually see Jaws. it’s all down to John Williams incredibly iconic score. This builds tension and fear, every time you watch it. There is no tension or fear from this bloated shark flick.
Not every shark movie has to be like Jaws, but it has to be something. This movie isn’t scary, or shocking, it certainly isn’t an environmental movie, as much as it would have you believe, and it isn’t even fun. It’s nothing. If you want to watch a masterpiece, watch Jaws, If you want to watch a stupid, scary, bloody and hilarious affair, don’t watch The Meg, watch Deep Blue Sea.