The Meg (2018)

Directed by Jon Turtletaub
Written by Dean Georgaris and Jon Hoeber & Erich Hoeber

You know it’s summer, you know it’s August, when the atrocious shark movie hits theaters. Oh wait, did I say that outloud? I did say “atrocious”, and that’s probably harsh (although not harsh enough for 47 Meters Down), but I mostly mean that in a backhanded compliment kind of way. With movies like this, we’re looking for two things, and two things only: entertainment and air conditioning. Okay, one of those things the movie itself doesn’t even deliver (imagine watching a crappy summer movie in a theater with broken A/C, yikes!). So with dumb movies, there is endless entertainment to be found. We can laugh at the stupid people on the big screen doing stupid things. And we can cheer when the shark wins! In all honesty, shark movies can be a lot of fun, and they certainly don’t have to all be Jaws. They should be fun, and there is some fun at least in The Meg.

Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) is a deep sea rescue diver with an impeccable record, but after an incident on the bottom of the ocean (he claims a giant shark, the doctor claims he snapped), he retires from the profession. But after a team of explorers discover a new, isolated part of the ocean never before seen, they get attacked by the same giant shark, and stranded at the bottom. Taylor must race to the station off the coast of China to help rescue the team before the shark, a Megalodon, threatens to wreak havoc on humanity. The billionaire benefactor (Rainn Wilson) attempts to get in the way while the rest of the team (Bingbing Li, Ruby Rose, Cliff Curtis, Page Kennedy) hopes to make a giant discovery in the name of science!

It always shocks me when I watch a movie like this, one so closely linked to science and discovery and exploration, a movie which adores its subject, completely ignores its own passions. For a movie about science, this movie sure doesn’t have much logical science in it, or logical humans for that matter. Time and again, I sat in my theater seat, either rolling my eyes at these characters decisions, or laughing uncontrollably at their anguish as a result of their own stupidity. And oh the jumps this movie takes. But, the good news is, it’s funny as a result. In that respect, the film becomes entertaining, and thank goodness because there is an awful lot of awful packed into this 2 hour movie.

It’s very campy, and that’s the style it’s going for. It’s still hard for me to sit here with my critical cap on and say that they accomplished what they set out to do so they succeeded. They succeeded to some extent, but if my goal for the day is to complete one simple task at work, I’m pretty sure my boss won’t be happy that I didn’t reach higher and get more done. I’m not saying this movie needs to be an all-timer, or even try to be more serious about itself. That’s not the point. The point is this movie is bad, and because of that it’s kinda good. But it also doesn’t go all the way into the so-bad-it’s-good realm, which is problematic. An awkward romance, stiff, delivered performances, silly gags and lines and oh my it feels like this film was thrown together on a typewriter in one sitting.

This type of movie has its audience, and I think anyone hoping for a dumb oceanic romp will get exactly what they’re looking for, so in that respect, these types of movies have their utility. Even I had enough fun with it in the moment to not hate it. It’s at least lightyears for fun and entertaining than the slog that was 47 Meters Down from last summer. But I do also wonder what the product would look like if great care was taken on crafting the script, to better utilize the otherwise fascinating premise which affords for lots of really cool oceanic tech and production design. This movie should be way slicker and cooler than it is in my opinion, and with a (likely major) revision of the script, and put in competent hands, this could be a major blockbuster hit. But then again, maybe that’s my own problem, not the movie’s, but either way, it wasn’t quite for me.

★★ – Didn’t Like It

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