THE MEG IS MONSTER FUN. It owes more to the likes of Jurassic Park, Godzilla and Deep Blue Sea - with a dash of Jaws 3D to boot - than a certain film based on a Peter Benchley novel.
Don’t believe those saying it is an abomination of a movie, it certainly isn’t that. It’s a helluva rollercoaster ride of a summer film that delivers the odd jump moment, intentional laugh out loud funny moments and exciting scenes aplenty.
It’s great family fare, there were lots of families with children aged 8 or 9 upwards that lapped it all up. The 7 (almost 8) year old and 17 year old were both equally entertained by it. Neither had seen Jaws so this was their first toe in the water for such a film.
I was also surprised to see it feature a non-too subtle conservation message about Chinese ships that fish sharks for their fins. It’s almost a throwaway moment but one of the most pleasing.
Like many I’m sure The Meg will lead directly to Jaws - which is still far more bloody and harrowing than this creature feature - and other shark films. The Meg is fairly bloodless for such a giant beast - which will probably disappoint many - but that doesn’t make it any less spectacular.
It’s paced really well with a great intro to Jonas Taylor, played by Jason Statham, who then retires due to a ‘botched’ rescue mission. He’s then brought back into the fray by another deep sea mission that goes wrong - this is all perfectly well put together and keeps the mystery of The Meg under wraps.
We see lots of The Meg when she finally surfaces, but that is what people are paying to see. Yes, it’s all CGI but looks pretty nifty and is effectively executed for a giant monster movie.
It’s daft but deliriously fun action that is helmed by Jon Turteltaub, who also effectively directed the equally silly but exciting National Treasure films.
A co-production with China, this is where the majority of the film is set - it’s been something of a growing trend with Hollywood films of late as they target the previously untapped lucrative Chinese market. That all helps lend the film a different look location wise to what we are used to and has certainly paid off. The opening weekend in China was over $50 million, beating out even the haul in the US.
The rest of the cast, which includes LI Bingbing; Rainn Wilson; Ruby Rose; Page Kennedy; Robert Taylor and Cliff Curtis are engaging enough and there are enough of them to make it a fun aquatic game of cat and mouse as to who shall survive.
Although the Statham and Li have a growing romantic concern for one another it’s the interplay between Statham and Li’s screen daughter, played by Sophia Cai that’s really lovely to watch and Statham is at his most human. They could have almost got away with a rerun of the Jaws mimicry scene between Chief Brody and Sean Brody at the dinner table.
It’s as much fun as you’d expect from a film about a giant prehistoric rampaging shark. Just don’t take it too seriously, I mean how could you?
And it’s nice to see it all realised with a big budget rather than the likes of Mega Shark or Shark Attack 3: Megalodon. It’s a B-movie with a budget and isn’t afraid to wear that on its chest like a giant tracking beacon.
There are couple of nods to Jaws, how could you not? Alex Kintner and Pippet - am guessing the screenwriters weren’t being doubly ironic by calling the dog Pippin as people often get it wrong as that - take a bow. These are more loving winks for the audience, but it certainly doesn’t ruin your viewing experience if you spot them or not.
Forgettable but fun, just enjoy the ride. Like all good theme park rides it all seems over too quickly, I won’t be getting back in line for another visit on the big screen but will certainly be adding the 3D version to the shelf next to my Jaws Blurays.
The Meg has been a long time coming, over 20 years since the book was released. Let’s just not wait another 20 years for a follow up.
Fast and furiously fun it all unfolds with great aplomb. Even if there aren’t a huge amount of story surprises it is a great ride for the whole family and will leave your inner 12 year old and actual 12 year olds leaving the cinema smiling like a son of a bitch.
A classic, no. Classily executed, you bet.
By Dean Newman
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