THE MEG (2018, PG-13, 113 minutes, APELLES ENTERTAINMENT/WARNER BROS.)
Sometimes, a film comes along that brings a message that resonates deep within the viewer. Something which compels you to question the status quo, makes you realize that life could be different, were people strong enough and inclined to encourage change with voices loud and determinations resolute.
But that was last week’s review—this week, we’re talking about THE MEG.
Put in the simplest of terms, without grandiose words or carefully constructed phrases, THE MEG freaking rocks. Seriously. It is exactly what a summer movie should be: there is action, laughs, muscles, Hiro Nakamura from “Heroes”, and a giant, angry shark. It helps that the CGI is pretty much on point; there are a few instances that appear marginally fake, but it isn’t enough to pull you back from the edge of your seat.
MEG concerns a megalodon, a not-quite extinct, prehistoric great white shark that eats killer whales for appetizers and whales of the bigger variety at meal time. And, apparently, it’s always meal time. When a megalodon is freed from its underwater prison (there is a TOTALLY PLAUSIBLE scientific explanation for that) and begins roaming the open waters 200 miles off the coast of China (which, for a shark that size, is probably, like, twenty feet from the beach), a team of scientists and precisely one badass try to save the day. The script, written by two screenwriters responsible for RED and BATTLESHIP, and another dude that wrote PAYCHECK, work from the 1997 novel by Robert Alten. Usually, three screenwriters spells doom; it means that there were either a whole lotta rewrites, or that the film could be clunky (like, one guy wrote the action, another the comedy, and another dude did the scientific research, and nothing in the film quite matches). But this…oh, this is a beast that works surprisingly well.
Jason Statham stars as deep-sea diver Jonas Taylor, a guy that rescues other divers for a living—or at least did, until what he claims was a giant shark was responsible for a rescue operation that turned disastrous. He is pulled back into the mix after a Megalodon cripples a research vessel in the depths of the ocean, and rushes to save the scientists on board. One of those is Hiro Naka—I mean, Masi Oka, who proves once again how much of a natural talent he is. Also in the cast is the gorgeous Ruby Rose, along with Bingbing Li (coolest name ever), Rainn Wilson, Page Kennedy, and a whole bunch of other people you will recognize from similar parts they have played in the past. But stereotyping is part of the fun here, believe it or not. This is a summer action film, so don’t go in wanting to see something other than two hours of joyous carnage and a remarkable number of near misses.
The film looks beautiful; the fully realized sets (which all look TOTALLY PLAUSIBLE) and the mini submarines that look like something out of a STAR WARS film have more than enough detail in them to make them appear…well, TOTALLY PLAUSIBLE. Also, the score by Harry Gregson-Williams (THE EQUALIZER, THE MARTIAN) is a perfect pairing to the on-screen action.
The only thing I wanted more of in this film, however, was ten-year-old actress Shuya Sophia Cai. Her timing is impeccable, and she has, quite possibly, the greatest eyebrows in Hollywood. Seriously. There are numerous funny moments to behold, several of which are delivered by Ms. Cai, whose facial expressions alone warrant their own special feature once this is released on Blu-ray. The only distraction in the film is the occasional character who does something that you automatically know is going to get them eaten. The film even sets you up a few times; you expect someone to become shark bait, and they don’t—well, at least not right away. Which is part of the fun, but is also one of the mainstays of horror films that usually has you shaking your head.
But again—we aren’t talking art here, kids. We’re talking plain old summer fun. Not that there is anything plain about this film; for what it is (a movie about a giant shark that eats everything) (which is TOTALLY PLAUSIBLE), it delivers unexpectedly well. And as this is based on a series of books, we would be lucky enough to be swimming these waters with Mr. Statham and Co. again.