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Review: The Meg (2018)

The Meg (2018)

Directed by: Jon Turteltaub

Premise: Based on the novel by Steve Alten. Oceanographers exploring the Mariana Trench discover Carcharocles megalodon, a giant shark thought to be extinct. The shark escapes its deep sea enclave and terrorizes people at the surface.

What Works: The Meg is very loosely based on the novel by Steve Alten. In fact, the movie resembles the book in concept only and that’s just fine because Meg was a truly execrable book. The fact that the filmmakers were able to make anything out of it at all is some kind of accomplishment.  The Meg deserves credit for its visual effects. Most of the movie takes place at sea with a considerable amount of the action occurring underwater. Digitally created sea life tends to look cartoonish but the creatures of The Meg are convincing with a vibrant texture and credible mass and movement.

What Doesn’t: The Meg is the latest title in a revival of killer shark movies. From Sharknado to The Shallows, a whole subgenre of shark related films has been released in the past few years. The Meg is by far the highest profile production and it is certainly the most expensive. Unfortunately, The Meg is also one of the worst shark films of recent years. It’s not shoddily made; this isn’t SyFy Channel dreck like Avalanche Sharks. But those films, as bad as they were, at least satisfied as entertaining shlock and had no pretentions to be anything else. The Meg is not entertaining. It’s not good nor is it bad in a way that’s any fun. The Meg is frequently boring. The picture takes more than a half hour before the story actually starts and once it does there are long lulls in the action. The story just stops dead for no reason. The Meg sets up race-against-time scenarios—at first a submersible crew needs saving and later a giant killer shark is headed toward a beach filled with tourists—but then the movie gets sidetracked into meaningless moments of characters hanging about hallways and talking about nothing pertinent to the story. Matters aren’t helped by the dull characters. The cast is led by Jason Statham who does what he can with the material but this movie doesn’t know how to use Statham or his tough guy charisma. The rest of the cast are generic characters. No one has a personality or even defining characteristics. The star of The Meg is the giant shark but the creature doesn’t have any presence or personality. There’s no sense of dread in the way the sharks of Jaws or The Shallows haunted their movies. This is ostensibly a horror film but it’s never scary. When The Meg does finally get to its action, the movie is often clumsy. Perhaps in an effort to avoid overexposing the shark, the animal is rarely shown and it is presented at a distance or in fragments. The result is set pieces that don’t have establishing shots and the action is hard to follow.

Bottom Line: The Meg didn’t need to best Jaws to be a success. It just needed to be a competent monster flick. But it fails at that. The Meg is an overlong bore that doesn’t thrill or frighten.

Episode: #712 (August 19, 2018)