Let’s face it. There will never be another Jaws, at least not in my lifetime. Steven Spielberg’s classic is a classic for a reason. It is an impeccable film; terrifying and real as real can get. Powered by strong performances by the late Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss, Jaws is the shark movie to end all shark movies. That doesn’t mean Hollywood won’t stop trying to rekindle that kind of movie magic. Once we can get past that then Joe Turtletaub’s The Meg is not all that bad. It’s not all that good either. Based on the book, Meg, by Steven Alten, it is the story of megalodon (prehistoric and massively large) shark that terrorizes an underwater sea vessel and the attempts to save its crew from certain death.
At a length of seventy feet, the shark is an eating machine and it is not a picky eater. Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) is brought in to try and help salvage the downed sub and save its crew. Of course, he is still haunted by what happens in the first scene of The Meg and has taken to drinking copious amounts of booze. You know, the usual staples that come with films like this. When one of the characters stuck in the sub happens to be Jonas’ ex-wife, Lori (Jessica McNamee) you kind of get the feel where this film is going with its material.
Multi-billionaire, Morris (Rainn Wilson) who is underwriting this whole project is there to oversee the ordeal with the usual cadre of cliched characters. The computer nerd, Jaxx (Ruby Rose), the project manager, Zhang (Winston Chao) and his daughter, Suyin (Bingbing Li) and her daughter, Meiying (Shuya Sophia Cai), the other manager, Mac (Cliff Curtis) along with about five more characters that are really of no consequence to the story. Basically, it is a process of elimination as to who gets to be inhaled by the shark and who doesn’t.
I saw The Meg in 3D and it helps. There are some very impressive, wide shots of the vastness of the deep. Although, if you don’t want to plunk down the money for the 3D version, the standard 2D will be just fine. The visuals of The Meg are more than sufficient as well as Director Joe Turtletaub’s energetic direction. There is a valiant effort to entertain with The Meg. The problem is in the story and the script, penned by Dean Georgaris, Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber, which becomes quite predictable about halfway through. You will never be surprised at the story or what happens which is too bad. The filmmakers had a good idea and went with it for a while but did not have the faith in the material or the audience to think outside of the box.
That is not to say The Meg is a total loss. I enjoyed it up to a point. This is big, dumb, silly, campy entertainment. Rainn Wilson is a hoot as Morris and he is about the only one who is able to cut loose and have fun with this material. The rest of these characters are recycled from countless other films. Jason Statham is a bona fide action star and fans of him will not be disappointed. The rest of the cast does what it needs to do and no one embarrasses themselves with their performances. I particularly enjoyed Harry Gregson-Williams’ score which is excellent. This composer never disappoints. All in all, I didn’t kick myself for seeing The Meg, but make no mistake about it, this film is exactly what you think it will be. Nothing more. If that is a good or bad thing I will leave that up to you.
The Meg – **1/2 out of 5
The Meg – Rated PG-13 for violence, some gore, some bad language and scenes of terror
The Meg – Run time is 113 minutes. There are no post credit scenes.
The Meg is now playing in theaters. Check your local listings for times and locations nearest you.