Naturally, film like The Meg will be able to effortlessly draw large amount of crowds to the cinema. After all, it has been a while since the last shark film came around. And this time, it is not just about any ordinary shark. Proudly nailed in the title, the mega-shark depicted in the movie is Megalodon, a colossal pre-historic shark that eats giant squids for breakfast. How it developed an insatiable appetite for humans after eating giant squids for hundreds or possibly thousands of years is beyond my comprehension, but I sensed that for the sake of the plot, it has to be that way.
High on the Meg’s menu wishlist is Jonas, a deep sea rescue diver played by Jason Statham. Statham’s well developed chest and six-packs make his character a perfect delicacy for the ancient shark. Next on the list is Suyin, an oceanographer and daughter of an underwater research facility head. She is played by Chinese actress Li Bingbing, and the reason that she is in the list is still unknown, and many suspect that it is to remind the Meg that she is in an American-Chinese co-produced film.
Having some Chinese influence in the film also means that inherently, I foresee that The Meg will feature crazy amounts of CGI. Well, what is the similarity shared between an enormous shark, an underwater research facility (read: underwater city) and deep seafloor operation? They all spell out CGI. Unsurprisingly, CGI seen throughout The Meg is mostly spectacular, and I see this as the first hint that the crew behind The Meg has a big bank reserve to tap into. Most scenes that featured Meg, the research facility and the underwater action looks really promising, and needles to say, the audience can really feel the effort and attention to details that the CGI crew put into when constructing the visuals. I am still awestruck at how they never failed to impose the correct perspective of size in most of the scenes. I mean, even if the scene only displays the sea, Meg’s dorsal fin, and the blue skies, I can clearly tell that it’s THE Meg and not any tiny ordinary shark. Yeah, now I’m starting to call ordinary sharks tiny. It’s amazing how CGI can mess up your mind these days. That’s not to say that I am wholeheartedly amazed by all the CGI in The Meg. I personally found that the “angry-face” effect put onto the Meg throughout the entire film to be a little too much to swallow, bordering the line of becoming the snarling shark found in the poster of Finding Nemo.
Moving on from the CGI, the next tell-tale sign that The Meg is heavily funded lies in the casts. As with the size of the giant living fossil, I feel that the cast list is proportionally bloated. Yes, I agree that there should be more sacrificial lambs in queue for such gigantic shark to feast on, but with the way the plot is setting up for each victim? Not good. The plot is happy to nonchalantly carry on after each mishap as long as Jonas and Suyin are well and intact. They can even trade jokes and cheeky smiles before the final resolve, even after the life of a prominent figure succumbed to the Meg not long before that. In The Meg, each event when lives are lost feels awfully less frightful and less traumatic than it should have been. Then, there’s even a character that is just a pain in the butt to watch the whole time. I’m still cracking my head on the reason why characters like DJ is even included in the plot at the first place. He ain’t gutsy. Not even funny. One thing for sure, this guy is a noise pollution through the entire film. A perfect example of how a waste of silver screen space looks like, perhaps.
What kind of plot can you expect from a film like The Meg? In short, not exactly much, but still, it rather depends on what the audience expect out of the movie. For me, it’s a hit and miss affair. There are certain elements that I expect and accept for a film in this genre, like how people conveniently fall into water where the shark is lurking nearby, for the most hilarious reasons. I like that part in the story-line about how the initial encounter with the Meg messes up Jonas’ life. And the fact that how easily the world can handle the threat of the Meg, but is ruined by a person who favors corporate importance against saving lives. Yeah, by the way, I really dig into how The Meg ends it’s story-line without being “just-another-shark-killed-by-explosives-movie”. Shark movie doesn’t need to be all about harpoons, explosives, and that unfortunate surfer anymore. The Meg boasts underwater research facility, personal submarines, GPS (shark) tracking, and underwater audio projector. Welcome to the new era of Jaws. But sometimes, I feel that the plot of The Meg missed, and it missed hard. I mean, which group of people in the world would still quarrel with each other, and draw straws to decide on that person to take up an unfortunate task, all happening at the same time while a gigantic shark is lurking near their ship? And I’m still amazed at how a submarine-crushing, ship-wrecking super shark let its victims escape in a lifeboat.
Perhaps the final element in The Meg’s screenplay that is worth axing is the pathetic attempt by the screenwriter to periodically but consistently insert scenes which are supposed to be funny, but proved to be on the contrary. Jonas can stop all the cheeky smiles and lines thrown at Suyin, and his friend, Mac, too, can stop teasing them on their “about to blossom” relationship, and I will still bet that The Meg will stay just fine. Oh, and that guy DJ’s supposedly hilarious comedic routine? That is not funny. That is tormenting.
Addict Verdict, AV:
The Meg promises supersized shark, and together with it (or them?), supersized action sequences backed by modern-age elements not present in traditional shark movies. That being said, The Meg is only worth watching if you checked in purely for the chomping action, and have the aptitude to dismiss its plot holes and ignore all its head banging comedic lines. The question definitely worth asking: If the Meg lived in the uncharted territory, separated from the outside world through a layer of thermocline, then, what exactly hit the submarine in the introductory scenes where Jonas was seen conducting a rescue mission on?–The Film Addict