Certainly no Jaws or even Deep Blue Sea, The Meg is a fun throwaway for fans suffering from Shark Week withdrawal.
Some films are meant to be enjoyed in the theatre, where you can join in the shared experience while munching on popcorn like a giant shark snacking on Amity Island swimmers. The Meg, directed by John Turteltaub (the National Treasure films) and based on Steve Alten’s 1997 novel, is such a movie.
Somewhere off the coast of China, a research team funded by requisite eccentric billionaire Jack Morris (Rainn Wilson) discovers a false ocean bottom only to become trapped by an unknown, massive force. Dire measures call for a daring rescue, but there is only one deep sea dive rescuer for the job. Unfortunately, that guy is Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) and he’s drunk in Thailand following a rescue mission gone wrong 5 years before. Maybe we should be promoting these careers more in schools, so we have more hiring options when these types of things inevitably go wrong.
Of course, Jonas elects to take the plunge one more time. What he and fellow rescuer Suyin Zhang (Li Bingbing) discover is no secret if you’ve seen the previews. It’s a big-***, prehistoric monster shark known as the megalodon. The rescue is a semi-success, but the movie still has an hour and twenty minutes left, so chomp-chomp goes our shark.
Popular culture is shark infested waters. With Shark Week and the Sharknado series, we are not lacking for shark-themed things. So if you are looking for something deeply original, swim on. My family and most of those alongside us at the theatre are shark movie fans. My 8-year-old son likes to tell people “Don’t be the Jaws mayor” when they don’t listen. I may, hypothetically, have Samuel L. Jackson’s speech from The Deep Blue Sea memorized. You had us at more teeth.
In the theatre, the crowd jumped, laughed, and hid their eyes together in various places. Little kids squealed with delight, my daughter made fish puns–it was a communal event. As we were walking out, I overheard some older ladies talking about going to the drive-in as kids and watching those classic big bug movies like Them and Tarantula. The Meg is certainly not as good as any of that, and nowhere near Jaws (despite several direct references to it), but it is fun, complete with solid use of 3D. It’s a high budget (much has been made of the collaboration between China and the US for this film to create a “global” appeal), B-film. Enjoy it as that.
Amber is a doctoral candidate in Language, Diversity, and Literacy at Texas Tech. She holds an MA in Literature and History and a BFA in Theatre. A Texas-based mother of two, she is an Associate Professor of English and History at Howard College.