When Steven Spielberg’s Jaws opened in theaters in 1975, it took the world by storm. Not only was the movie hugely popular as it was genuinely scary, it actually affected society in a strange way. Audiences began to have an irrational fear of sharks even when swimming at a lake. When Jaws 2 came to theaters three years later, everyone knew the catchphrase, “Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water…” Since then, it’s been hard for movie studios to be able to drum up the same excitement with their own Jaws knock-offs. Shark movies became a joke. Even Jaws 3 and Jaws: The Revenge were met with disdain (and with good reason). But sharks are still a popular subject, just not one that we take very seriously anymore.
This brings us to next big shark movie, The Meg which judging from the trailers alone, looks like another campy knock-off movie and while it indeed is campy, it isn’t as much as you would think. When comparing movies, The Meg is closer to Jaws than Sharknado. Based on the New York Times best-selling book by Steve Alten, The Meg has an elevated storyline and gives the shark movie a science fiction twist. In fact, at least half of the movie takes place underwater resembling a movie set in space with undersea observers and their submersible taking the place of astronauts and a spacecraft. The actual “get out of the water” moments don’t happen until halfway through.
Though beautifully shot in New Zealand, The Meg takes place somewhere near the seas of China.
Page Kennedy, Ruby Rose, Li Bingbing, Jason Statham|
and Cliff Curtis. (Daniuel Smith/Warner Bros.)
The film opens with a rescue diver, Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham), attempting to save a group of scientists in an underwater attack. While he is able to save some, he wasn’t able to save them all. After the incident, one of the men he saved, Dr. Heller (Robert Taylor), accused Jonas of acting irrationally. Fast forward five years later, Taylor is called to save a small crew of international undersea observation program, whose submersible has been attacked by some unknown creature. Not only is this situation similar to the earlier rescue mission, but Dr. Heller is there to object to using Taylor as the rescuer and one of the scientist needing rescuing is Taylor’s ex-wife, Lori (Jessica McNamee).
Lori and crew work at the research facility called Mana One, which is led by oceanographer Zhang (Winston Chao) and his daughter, Suyin (Bingbing Li) who has her own super cute daughter, Meiying (Shuya Sophia Cai). The high tech, futuristic facility is financed by Jack Morris (Rainn Wilson) who is there checking out his investment. As the film goes on, they discover what we already know. That this mystery massive creature is a Megalodon, a giant 75-foot shark thought to have been extinct. This adventure is just beginning.
Directed by Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure, Last Vegas) The Meg doesn’t take itself too seriously as each unbelievable encounter is topped by an even bigger unbelievable encounter, but it does so in style. Sure, there are a few dumb lines (which surprisingly are not uttered by Statham), a few comedic lines that fall flat and some predictable scenes but for the most part, the actors are playing it straight and the film manages to produce a number of scares. Though I will say, the longer the film goes on, the sillier it becomes. All in all though, The Meg is a great film to round out the summer movie season and with it rated PG-13, the guts and gore are kept to a minimum creating a film that isn’t all that frightening, but a lot of fun.