By: The Cinema Cynic
There is nothing like a good shark movie to deliver that most peculiarly satisfying package of gore, guts and glory.
Unfortunately, The Meg is nothing like a good shark movie.
Without giving away too many spoilers, it’s safe to say that The Meg is about a great big shark and the efforts to stop it.
The story is loosely based on a novel entitled “Meg” by Steve Alten – the first of a series of Megalodon based novels by the author that are a lot of fun. When I say “loosely”, I really mean “loosely”. You can watch this movie and read the book and find two completely different stories (just like World War Z).
In a movie of this type, one would expect the shark to be the star of the show. This is especially so because the monstrous Megalodon, now thankfully extinct, has captured the imagination of shark enthusiasts for decades.
Unfortunately, we are treated to a display of appalling acting by a cast that includes Jason Statham as a catatonic Jonas Taylor and Li Bingbing as Suyin Zhang who does no better. Ruby Rose is totally unbelievable as the technological brains behind everything and the sole main African-American character played by Page Kennedy is portrayed as a bit of a coward and panicky. The best performance comes from the adorable Shuya Sophia Cai.
As a deep-sea monster-thriller, the movie is remarkably light on shark attacks. In fact, even when offered a virtual buffet of obnoxious bathers, the Meg, disturbed from the depths where she and her ilk had been living without bothering anyone, showed remarkable dietary restraint! Other than chomping a whale and a few individual human morsels, the massive shark offered little by way of the scary shark-kills that usually make movies of this type so much fun.
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Given that this was a US-China production, the preponderance of Chinese characters, settings and plot involvement is unsurprising. What is surprising is how poor the visual effects were for the production budget that estimated as being between US$150 million and US$178 million. The shark, in the few good views of it that we get, is not particularly impressive and is just about as believable as “Bruce” from Jaws. Compared to the menacing Makos from the otherwise poor Deep Blue Sea, The Meg’s mega-shark seems tame.
Yet, the movie is not all bad – the few shark scenes are pretty good and some of the underwater scenes are fun.
Perhaps the saddest part about The Meg is now bland it is. It isn’t a good movie or even a really “so bad it’s good” movie. It reminds one of the cheap films from The Asylum (such as Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus) but without the charm that those admittedly awful films possess.
If you want a good story about Megalodons going on a rampage, give this movie a miss and read the original steve alten books instead!
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