The Meg

The film overflows with displays of genuine affection and concern for others. Could its message be respect for creation?

Jon Turteltaub
Jason Statham, Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose, Winston Chao, Cliff Curtis

Dean Georgaris, Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber
Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror by Steve Alten
Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Colin Wilson, Belle Avery
Randy Greenberg, Ben Erwei Ji, Wayne Wei Jiang, Gerald R. Molen, Barrie M. Osborne.
Science Fiction, Horror

MUSIC: Harry Gregson-Williams
EDITING: Steven Kemper
PRODUCTION COMPANY: Warner Bros. Pictures, Gravity Pictures, Flagship Entertainment, Apelles Entertainment, Di Bonaventura Pictures, Maeday Productions
DISTRIBUTED BY: Warner Bros. Pictures
COUNTRY: China, United States
RUNNING TIME: 1 hr 54 min

Technical assessment: 3.0 ★★★✩✩
Moral assessment:
CINEMA rating:

Disgraced navy man and deep sea rescue diver Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) is recruited by Chinese oceanographer Dr. Zhang (Winston Chao) to save the crew of a submersible that was disabled by “something big” while on an observation mission in the Philippine Trench. Jonas’ team includes the oceanographer’s daughter, an expert shark cage diver herself, Suyin Zhang (Li Bingbing). Jonas is certain that “something big” is a shark previously thought to be extinct. He is proven right, and now he must lead the rescue team and beat the shark to an island in China that’s crawling (or wriggling) with beach lovers.

The Meg should have been a scary movie but it isn’t. A predictable, contrived plot and poor characterization take the teeth out of the shark scare. Leaden performances — as though the actors knew they would be facing just a CGI monster anyway — further drag the movie down to the unfathomable bleahs. The 75-foot megalodon is supposed to be the villain here but it registers as a mere nuisance. It shows no purpose in splashing about, scaring people, chomping away at its prey, and several times missing. It seems to have a low IQ: maybe it’s too prehistoric to be smart or simply that it’s 98% brawn and 2% brain. When at times it was on target, the kill was bloodless, perhaps deliberately, so as not to scare away its target audience — the minors. The biggest mystery is why it took too long for The Stath to figure out how to finally get the megalodon. After spear guns and bombs failed, our hero finally did the heroic stunt — cut the meg’s belly, causing it to bleed profusely and attract a horde of sharks which then feasted upon it. (Huh? That’s it? Why did such a simple solution take almost two hours to implement?) The real heroes here are the CGI artists/technicians who created a make-believe prehistoric marine monster with superb natural movements and features down to its icky gums, eeeww!

The Meg overflows with good intentions and displays of genuine affection and concern for others. Could its message be respect for creation? One remarkable line by Dr. Zhang refers to an unfortunate tendency of man to “discover and destroy” — for sure it was alluding to the meg-hunt, but how, we’re not sure. Blame Chinese English. The pictures speak clearly, though — a fat boy and beribboned dog escaped the meg’s jaws — perhaps, again, to avoid stressing the kids in the audience. In the end our sympathy goes to the ancient shark that died an ignominious death — ending up as sashimi in the bellies of its relatives. Try empathizing with the shark. Why must humans do that to a creature that was only doing what it did best — eat people? — TRT

For more details on the scoring system, see Review Guidelines: How CINEMA does its work.