If you’ve ever wondered how a B-list monster movie similar to the likes of Sharknado (2013) would translate onto the big screen with a blockbuster level budget, wonder no further.
Based off the novel Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror this film follows the story of a man (Jason Statham) leading the rescue after a team of marine biologists discover an old species of shark that were thought to be extinct.
The Meg has a distinct problem with finding its genre; it’s not a horror, a comedy, or an action – but a mishmash of many genres. This right here is the perfect example of a film trying to please every imaginable demographic it can, without doing a single specific genre type correctly. This is focus-group film making, the exact kind that is engineered rather than imagined. What’s even worse is that this monster movie attempts to take the angle of a self-aware “bad” shark movie too. There really is no end to how many angles this monstrosity will take a bite at.
The character development between Statham’s character and co-star Li Bingbing was the real horror of this film, not the Megalodon. The moment this film attempted to make me “feel” for characters I didn’t care about was the moment waters became truly choppy. Let’s be honest, all anybody really wants out of these films is to see a giant shark do ridiculous things in funny ways, and it simply doesn’t do that. This film chooses to be tense over being generically “jumpy-scary” and it chooses to be dramatized over being exaggeratory. This is one of the few times I would prefer a film primarily do jump scares. Having an indecisive tone throughout this film made it hard to sit back, crack a cold one, and have a laugh – and that’s not to say this film didn’t provide a laugh or two, it just doesn’t take you to a level where you could get on board with its ridiculousness.
While the CGI isn’t outright terrible, you don’t get creative shots and you aren’t offered interesting flavours from director Jon Turteltaub. Turteltaub struggled to capture the scale of the shark and struggled to provide potentially fun and entertaining shots. This is a film where it absolutely could have had gone with a comedic theme and stuck to it. Last year’s shark movie 47 Meters Down (2017) picked a more horror-esk vibe to go with – the year before that, The Shallows (2016) went with survivalist as the genre of choice. The Meg choosing not to seize a genre as its own is why it can’t compare to these past films – it is simply an amalgamation of various average monster flicks.
The Meg had trouble baiting me into the cinematic kill zone. Audiences may have some fun with it, but this couldn’t make it to the “so bad it’s funny” table or even the “just have fun with it” table – ultimately, it tried to make me care about characters that were poorly developed, I simply will not allow it. If it had focused on being an outright comedy with goofy music and lots of deaths, I perhaps could have dived right into the jaws of the beast and probably would have had a good time. Hanging on by the thin thread of a worn fishing line, The Meg is as generic as shark movies come – using tired movie tropes that are as prehistoric as the monster itself.