REVIEW: ‘The Meg’ needed more bite

You hated “Alien Vs Predator.”

You tolerated “Freddy vs Jason.”

You were disappointed by “Batman v Superman.”

So, how will you handle Jason Statham vs a giant shark?

That’s not actually the name of the movie, but it’s more or less what a person can pick up from the trailers. “The Meg” is actually short for Megalodon, a prehistoric shark and what’s considered the world’s largest marine predator that ever existed. The movie primarily takes place at a deep water research facility where scientists are trying to reach an unexplored part of the ocean. This area is so deep that prehistoric animals and plants are expected to be there.

The crew trying to reach this unknown area eventually do find their destination. However, in doing so they disrupt the ecosystem just enough to allow a Megalodon to ‘escape’ the deep water area and make it to the higher levels of the ocean. Because the giant killer shark is now on the loose, the research facility recruits Jonas Taylor, a retired naval officer and deep sea expert who encountered a meg on one of his previous missions.

As the title and its trailers might imply, “The Meg” isn’t exactly the summer’s most serious movie. This is a definitely a B-movie creature feature that goes for over-the-top moments and silly sequences. In fact, I kind of wished that Director Jon Turteltaub and his crew would have gone deeper into these aspects.

This is a picture that really could have used an R-rating to increase the gore as well as add more camp and toungue-in-cheek moments. It’s a very noticeable PG-13. For most films, I don’t harp on the rating too much, but if you’re going to have a film full of shark attacks, up things to an R and add in more blood.

This is especially true in what’s supposed to be one of the film’s most noteworthy scenes near a beach. Unfortunately, it doesn’t leave as much of an impact as another movie with a similar moment, “Piranha 3D.”

The movie is also way too long. This thing clocks in at an hour and 53 minutes, which is about 23 minutes longer than an average summer action movie should be. There’s not enough going on here to warrant that much time.

Helping the movie a bit is Statham. The guy fits into these B-movie roles quite nicely. He’s an actor who knows how to balance a character that is a snappy badass and a likeable, down-to-earth guy. That’s the case here, with Statham bringing the needed charisma to the role.

The rest of the cast, though, was quite forgettable. This is a film that really needed some good character actors who have more screen presence. Think back to the film “Kong: Skull Island,” a movie with a supporting cast that included Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman and John C. Reilly. Those are the type of cast members this film could have used.

Instead, for example, we get Ruby Rose and Page Kennedy playing unmemorable caricatures. One is an uptight expert and the other is a scaredy-cat who hates the water. The movie’s other lead, Suyin played by Bingbing Li, meanwhile, was alright here. Unfortunately, the focus on this character was a poorly written romance between her and Jon.

As for the action sequences, some work better than others. The ocean is a prime place for suspense since help can be so far away, and that works to the movie’s advantage. Plus the action sequences are so over the top because of the sheer size of the shark that it’s entertaining. However, it’s not executed as well as some other monster flicks out there.

Is it better to see “The Meg” on a big screen? Maybe, but only at a matinee. This one is more recommended for a rental, though. There are some redeeming qualities, but a forgettable supporting cast, fairly typical action and the lack of an R-rating makes the rating sink to a 2.5 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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