Friday, February 15, 2019

Review: "The Meg" is Enjoyably Cheesy

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 1 (of 2019) by Leroy Douresseaux

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

The Meg (2018)
Running time:  113 minutes (1 hour, 53 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for action/peril, bloody images and some language
DIRECTOR:  Jon Turteltaub
WRITERS:  Dean Georgaris and Jon Hoeber & Erich Hoeber (based on the novel, Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror, by Steve Alten)
PRODUCERS:  Belle Avery (p.g.a.), Lorenzo di Bonaventura (produced by) (p.g.a.) and Colin Wilson
EDITORS:  Steven Kemper and Kelly Matsumoto
COMPOSER:  Harry Gregson-Williams


Starring:  Jason Statham, Bingbing Li, Rainn Wilson, Cliff Curtis, Winston Chao, Sophia Cai, Ruby Rose, Page Kennedy, Robert Taylor, Olafur Darri, Olafsson, Jessica McNamee, and Masi Osa

The Meg is a 2018 science fiction, horror, and action film from director Jon Turteltaub and stars Jason Statham.  This movie is loosely based on Steve Alten's 1997 novel, Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror.  A Chinese-American co-production, The Meg film focuses on a man who must save a group of people trapped in a sunken submersible vessel damaged by a prehistoric creature that no one but he believes still exists.

The Meg opens in the Phillippine Trench where there is a “deep sea rescue mission.”  Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) leads the mission to save the sailors aboard the damaged nuclear submarine, the “SSBN Rogue.”  Something attacks the Rogue, and Taylor is forced to leave some of his own men behind where they die when the submarine explodes.

Five years later, the story moves to the underwater research facility, “Mana One,” where its billionaire founder, Jack Morris (Rainn Wilson), has just arrived to meet the facility's lead researcher, Dr. Zhang (Winston Chao).  Morris hopes to witness a mission supervised by Zhang's daughter, Suyin (Bingbing Li), an oceanographer, in which a submersible will explore a previously unknown part of the Mariana trench.  Not long into the mission, a very large creature attacks and damages the submersible, forcing it down into a place from which it will be hard to rescue.

Zhang and one of his top crew members, Mac (Cliff Curtis), head to Samut Prakan, Thailand, to convince Jonas Taylor, retired since the SSBN Rogue incident, to help them rescue the Mana One's submersible.  Although Taylor initially refuses, he accepts the mission when he learns that someone close to him is trapped in the submersible and that its crew is being menaced by a prehistoric creature that Taylor believes to still exist today, the giant shark creature, the Megalodon.

The Meg is an entertaining, but not particularly good B-movie.  The Meg manages to be more than mediocre because of some highly-entertaining and thoroughly thrilling action sequences.  It seems to me that the director, Jon Turtletaub, was reluctant to really go wild with what is essentially a monster movie.  If what paleontologists say is true, the Megalodon was the terror of the seas, yet this cinematic “Meg” only commits a fraction of the terror that it could.  Maybe, it is the screenwriters' fault that this screenplay does not seem particularly imaginative.

The characters are not imaginative, either.  The only characters presented with any depth or personality are Jason Statham's Jonas Taylor and Bingbing Li's Suyin, and even they are little more than puffed up stock characters.  Taylor is the white savior slash rescue-mission-guy damaged by a recent “mistake” who will find redemption in getting this new opportunity to save some people.  Suyin is a by-the-book smart-Asian-cookie, but at least the filmmakers let her get in some girl-hero action time.

There is a cute kid, Meiying (Sophia Cai), that steals her scenes, and there is also the stereotypical Black guy, DJ (Page Kennedy), who is constantly letting everyone know that he did not sign up for fighting or being eaten by a prehistoric monster shark.  The Meg is a B-movie, a $130 million dollar-budgeted B-movie, but a B-movie, still.  And if you enjoy movies about sharks terrorizing humans, especially humans too stupid to avoid them (and, dear readers, I do enjoy such movies), then, The Meg is must-see shark-scare entertainment.

5 out of 10

Monday, December 31, 2018

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