Saturday, August 18, 2018

Movie Review: "The Meg" (2018)

Director: Jon Turteltaub
Year: 2018
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 53 minutes

A team of scientists uncovers an undiscovered eco-system trapped under a thermocline created by a layer of hydron sulfide gas. Their actions cause a hole to get poked in the gaseous layer, allowing the prehistoric megalodon that lives there to escape into the open ocean.

"Tell me this isn't the worst best "I told you so"!" (Image Source)
Give a $150 million budget to a script better suited for the Asylum company, and you've got "The Meg." This film is directed by Jon Turteltaub, who has helmed other projects like "National Treasure," "National Treasure: Book of Secrets," and "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," which begs the only logical question, why isn't Nicolas Cage in this film!? Was it too high-brow for his liking? The screenplay is written by Dean Georgaris and Jon and Erich Hoeber and is actually based on a book titled "Meg" by Steve Alten, which came as a complete shock to us. The story surrounds a group of scientists working at Mana One, a billion dollar underwater facility off the coast of China. They are testing a hypothesis that what we think is the bottom of the ocean at the Mariana Trench is actually just being covered by a layer of gas that houses a hidden ecosystem. When these scientists actually penetrate this gaseous layer, their submarine is attacked by a megalodon that has been trapped under the barrier since prehistoric times, and they are left crippled 11,000 meters under the ocean surface. To save them, the men who run the facility hire Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham), the best rescue diver that has ever lived, to do a search and rescue mission to collect their missing crew. Unfortunately, their mission has an unfortunate side effect. Due to all of this activity, a hole is punctured in the gas layer, which allows the megalodon to escape into the open ocean, threatening the lives of sailors and swimmers everywhere. Now, it's up to the scientists who let it get free to stop it before it's too late.
"That living fossil ate my friend." (Image Source)
It's easy to write "The Meg" off as stupid and cheesy and leave it at that. To us, that's a bit unfair because we fully expected it to be dumb. In fact, we wanted it to be ridiculous and idiotic and a lot of mindless fun. Unfortunately, it only gets the first two parts of this formula right while it struggles with the last part a bit. This is not to say "The Meg" is entirely devoid of fun, because it isn't. Seeing Jason Statham ride a moped while sporting a deep cut v-neck shirt and wearing a silly straw hat brought us endless amounts of joy. Hearing Jason Statham swim towards an enormous shark while crooning "Just Keep Swimming" from "Finding Nemo" split our sides. Seeing a massive megalodon attack things can be fun as well. We just wish "The Meg" has pushed the zaniness envelope a little more. It's too bad those behind the scenes opted for a PG-13 cut instead of the originally planned R-rating (via Jon Turteltaub himself). An R-rating would have ensured some wonderful, over-the-top comedic gore. In its current state, we can't help but feel there were many missed opportunities for someone to get mutilated in a disgustingly spectacular fashion.

It pains us deeply to say that this is a rather tame and uninteresting movie. Sure, we bust up laughing every time Statham utters the word "megalodon," but it's hard to tell if that was the intention. Sometimes this movie feels like a total tongue-in-cheek romp, and other times, it feels like it wants to have a couple of serious and/or impactful moments of emotion that flop more than a dead fish. At least the actors look like they are having a good time for the most part, but we can't honestly say they give good performances. Statham is an underutilized comedic talent, so the when he gets to say goofy, awful dialogue, it makes for a grand experience. The rest of the time, the interactions between him and the other actors, Li Bingbing's Suyin in particular, feel forced, stiff and devoid of humor.
"It didn't go our way, not for Toshi, not for science." (Image Source)
In the end, there are some things to like about "The Meg." We had a little bit fun with it from time to time, but overall, it was too much of a mixed bag that left us wanting something a little more outrageous, dumb, and raucous. But please, powers that be, let Jason Statham do more comedies.

My Rating: 4.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 4.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~6.2/10
RT Rating: ~48%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

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