The Meg is advertised as a fun and silly shark movie, but it has long, boring stretches and takes its 70-foot shark way too seriously.
Director: Jon Turteltaub
Summary: After escaping an attack by what he claims was a 70-foot shark, Jonas Taylor must confront his fears to save those trapped in a sunken submersible.
“A giant shark that is supposed to be extinct is now swimming around killing people” sounds like it should be a fun concept for a movie. It’s utterly ridiculous, and it should revel in how silly that is. Instead, The Meg seems to think that playing it totally straight is the name of the game.
The characters throw around a lot of movie science to justify the fact that there is a giant shark swimming around the ocean and now it’s killing people. Considering how much of the ocean is unexplored, it would have been faster for everyone if they’d just said “there’s a giant shark. We don’t know where it came from.” Those moments of movie science are the things that drag down what should be an enjoyable B movie.
The structure of The Meg is as follows: Action Scene, Boring Stuff, Acton Scene, Boring Stuff — and so on until the end of the movie. Every time you think the movie is about to get going, it grinds itself to a halt over and over again. It spends a baffling amount of time trying to make us care for the one-dimensional characters. The moments when the movie really embraces how over-the-top this premise is are the only ones that work.
The decision to keep the movie PG-13 also means that there isn’t a lot of blood in the water. That scene of the shark swimming underneath a packed beach is so tame. The entire movie kills maybe a dozen people on screen and a handful more off screen. The movie this should have taken inspiration from is Piranha 3D, with the beach scene in The Meg being like the scene where the piranha first attack. The director has gone on the record saying he wanted to make an over-the-top, gory-as-hell shark movie but was told by Warner Bros. to keep it PG-13. The rating forces the movie to hold back and take itself more seriously, which is not the right tone to go for.
The Meg is about 50% of a good movie. The scenes where the shark is there and doing its thing are fun, but the plot keeps grinding to a stop to explain things. If it embraced how insane all of this was, it would be a lot better. Instead it’s just safe and restrained.
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