After a second viewing I have changed my tune on The Meg; I stand by that it is a flawed film and could have had a better script and more gore but if you’re looking for some escapist nonsense for a few hours you could do worse.
Plot: A deep-sea submersible—part of an international undersea observation program—has been attacked by a massive creature, previously thought to be extinct, and now lies disabled at the bottom of the deepest trench in the Pacific…with its crew trapped inside. With time running out, expert deep sea rescue diver Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) is recruited by a visionary Chinese oceanographer (Winston Chao), against the wishes of his daughter Suyin (Li Bingbing), to save the crew—and the ocean itself—from this unstoppable threat: a pre-historic 75-foot-long shark known as the Megalodon. What no one could have imagined is that, years before, Taylor had encountered this same terrifying creature. Now, teamed with Suyin, he must confront his fears and risk his own life to save everyone trapped below.
Review: You may remember when I first reviewed The Meg a few months ago I didn’t have the best time; the audience literally ruined the entire movie so I was in a foul mood right from the start which didn’t bode well for the movie itself.
A few people (mostly Mike Eggers) have claimed that I have maybe been overly harsh with my criticism of the film so I waited until it was out on Blu-ray and watched it in the comfort of my own home with no outside distractions.
This is not something I normally do as rarely does my opinion of a movie change that much but after my rewatch last night I figured it was time to grow up and write a proper review for the movie as I actually enjoyed it a lot more this time round.
A lot of the flaws I stated originally are still there but I have now recovered from the shock of how much the film differs from the book Meg in which it is loosely based.
As previously stated the novel from Steve Alten was a really enjoyable story with memorable characters, tension-filled scenes and a new unconventional hero in Jonas Taylor who becomes a paleontologist after witnessing a Megalodon attack. He is accused of being a coward after the attack as two of his comrades are killed but he is then institutionalized as people think he has had a mental breakdown.
When I heard Jason Statham had been cast I have to admit I scratched my head as this is not who you picture in the role of Jonas. It’s no secret I am a big fan of The Stath and watching him punch people in the face is never less than entertaining. At no point have I ever thought “I’d love to see Jason Statham play a paleontologist who goes after a giant prehistoric shark”. He doesn’t have any fights in this movie but is still a typically Statham-flavoured character and a true blue hero type. He is basically the same as the majority of his other movies but he remains sympathetic and his charisma immediately makes Jonas someone to root for. I imagine with Jason’s background as an Olympic swimmer the role appealed to him as he spends the majority of the film in a wetsuit in the ocean.
In the book I never liked the character of Terry but in the movie she is now called Suyin who is far more appealing (if a little bland); her little girl Meiying takes an immediate shine to Jonas and while Suyin initially treats him with hostility you can see that they are clearly attracted to each other.
The weakest link on the film was the character of DJ who started off well enough but by the second half he became a squealing, annoying coward and I was disappointed he survived (FYI he doesn’t in the book and is a far different character).
It still feels like a movie made by a Hollywood committee pandering to as wide an audience as possible and removes any of the gore that was initially supposed to be in it. There is no blood or particularly shocking moments and during a lot of the set-pieces the camera cuts away and I still wish we would get an Unrated version some day. The PG rating certainly didn’t hurt the box office though so Warner Bros. were laughing all the way to the bank; I imagine with the impending sequel we can expect more of the same.
There are several entertaining moments of humour and the nod to Finding Nemo was arguably the best scene of the film. The second half has far more in the way of action and the visual effects are rather impressive at times. It’s also harmless fun and will likely appeal to the masses looking for some moving wallpaper for a few hours.
The beach scene at the end had the potential to do something special but never lived up to what it could have been but that’s how I feel about the film in general. It’s merely escapist fun but could have been Jaws for a new generation.
Overall, The Meg is far more entertaining the second time around; if you leave your brain at the door and forget the book it’s based on you may just enjoy it for the harmless B movie entertainment that it is.