#REVIEW: “THE MEG”
Review by David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
The Meg revolves around a group of Marine Biologists and Scientists aboard a high-tech facility in the Pacific Ocean. They have just discovered a beautiful and untouched area below the Marianas Trench. But little do they know, that area houses an enormous sea creature thought to be extinct, but is actually alive and very hungry.
I tried writing the synopsis for The Meg out multiple times, but could never find the right way to explain the absurdity of what comes next. To put it simply, Jason Statham and the rest of the multi-ethnic team (including Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, Cliff Curtis, Winston Chao, Ruby Rose and the delightful Shuya Sophia Cai) fight for their lives against an impossibly gigantic Megalodon shark. Director Jon Turteltaub’s Film is just as absurd as that sounds, becoming increasingly more ridiculous throughout its 113-minute running time. It gleefully references Jaws and other killer sea creature films, and asks the audience from the very beginning to not think too hard about the plausibility of anything happening on-screen.
And for a good portion of the Film, The Meg succeeds at this task and has a lot of fun doing it. Statham throws out one-liners, the Cast knowingly wink at the audience, and Turteltaub and his fleet of Writers have a blast throwing this group of Characters into inherently preposterous situations that result in multiple death and near death experiences. The Meg knows it is low art, and never attempts to rise above that distinction. Instead, it wears it like a badge of honour. And while it is not looking for any major awards, I was surprised by just how gorgeous the Film looked in IMAX. The visuals and vibrant colours are spectacular and richly-detailed. Yes, there are a plethora of Special Effects that bring the aquatic creatures to life – but outside of a few key scenes, none of it looked especially computer generated (unlike so many other films in this genre). So kudos to Turteltaub for stepping things up a notch here.
But where The Meg falters is in its commitment to the absurdity on display. The first half of the Film is filled to the brim with scientific jargon and semi-serious character pandering. The titular sea creature does not even make a real appearance until more than fifty minutes into the Film, and the devastating carnage you are expecting from the marketing campaign does not happen until the final third. Rather unfortunately, it is a lot of build-up for only a handful of glorious moments. Worse, the Film’s PG-13 rating makes it a relatively bloodless affair and not at all the deliriously violent bloodbath you might be expecting. A blatantly-obvious unrated version may make up for these shortcomings, but it made for multiple disappointing moments where even the characters seemed to be expecting a significantly more vicious result.
Looking past the neutered violence, I was still disappointed with The Meg. It can be a lot of fun when it gives into its absurd premise and lets Statham fight the massive shark. But the Film is too semi-serious for its first half that it nearly derails everything that comes afterwards. Even saying all of that, the mayhem we were promised in the Trailers only occurs in the final third – and does not last all that long. But Cast’s knowing winks, and the absolutely gorgeous visuals, make The Meg an enjoyable enough experience to get you through the end of summer.
Warner Bros. Pictures Canada release THE MEG on Friday, August 10, 2018.