The Meg

meg_big_posterThe Meg is short for The Megalodon. Cue a surprisingly dramatic entrance for a not-so-surprising movie about sharks. We open on a submarine rescue mission gone wrong. We get the works: flashing lights, ominous noises, and exposition. Lots of important exposition that define our characters and plot. We get easy characterization for Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) as an experienced and heroic diver, one that is misunderstood and often belittled by others for his decisions in these critical first minutes, often called a coward (he’s not), selfish (he’s not), or heartless (he’s not). He is constantly reminded of this early failure throughout the movie, and it is only halfway through the film that this expositional tale gets some closure and Jonas can go on with his life.

Almost immediately after this brief beginning, we jump forward into the future and we meet Jack Morris (Rainn Wilson) a billionaire funding the research going on at Mana One and his head researchers Dr. Minway Zhang (Winston Chao) and Suyin (Bingbing Li). We arrive via helicopter and descend into the depths of the laboratory, which, despite its not so epic elevator entrance,  is a sight to behold once down in the depths, everything beautifully designed by Jaxx Herd (Ruby Rose). Jack has made it to his research lab just in time to witness a crew of Lori (Jessica McNamee), Toshi (Masi Oka), and The Wall (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson) dive below what was always assumed to be the sea level.

They penetrate to a formerly unobserved layer of ocean: hello anglerfish, giant squids, and beautiful sea environments gently waving in the drift of the water. Too bad their awe is cut short and their lives threatened by an unknown creature, later revealed to be the Megalodon. As the audience members watching alongside everyone surfaceside in Mana One, we fear for the crew member’s lives and lose connection just like everybody else, our beloved, humorous, human crew trapped thousands of meters below the ocean with not a hope of survival.

Until Jonas Taylor is brought into the picture. If you recall the exposition ladled out to us at the beginning and mentioned throughout the movie, Jonas is apparently a magnificent diver who became a recluse after the botched deep sea diving rescue attempt and finds his days wasted away in the bottle. But that doesn’t stop Mac (Cliff Curtis) from going to see his friend and ask for his help. Despite his initial protests, Jonas comes onboard and offers his services to a less than thrilled crew. Said crew includes Dr. Heller (Robert Taylor), a man Jonas rescued from his failed attempt earlier and who holds a grudge against Jonas. They butt heads a few times, but he provides trivial conflict as the movie progresses, even going so far as to apologize to Jonas for not believing him when it is revealed that the Megalodon is real.

In line with most heroic movies, Jonas does the saving thing in many ways, starting with Suyin, the crew containing Lori (his ex-wife), and then countless others through his fearless and often reckless actions. Despite saving several of the main cast that we get to know and love, there are still several deaths in the movie. I can count the deaths from the main cast introduced on one hand, but the loss of civilian life and others not as necessary to the main plot is beyond me. But at least they die glorious, blood splattering deaths. Hold on to your tackle box, the amount of gore in this movie will make you question those fish sticks you had before coming into the theatre. It’s not egregious, just enough and then some to show the hell that nature can throw on us small, insignificant humans.

Jonas manages to save the crew early on, but in doing so he accidentally allows the Megalodon an escape from the depths of the ocean and he takes it upon himself to stop it before it can kill anymore people. Yes there are some epic underwater scenes, yes the thrill is real, yes the production design and location scouting are amazing.

But is it worth your $10-15? Yes…and no. It’s a fun and entertaining movie, good drama paired with a healthy dose of humor. My all time favorite parts were when Meiying (Shuya Sophia Cai) would make a joke or stress how intuitive 8-year olds are because come on. Who doesn’t love kids and who doesn’t love kids who are so much wiser than they appear? It’s a good summer film to pass the time, get hyped for the beach, or otherwise just to have a good time with some friends. It doesn’t question the human condition or philosophize man v. nature, though it does try at times. Deep, pondering questions that are usually the theme of such movies or make up entire movies themselves are lightly skimmed over by Turteltaub, given some acknowledgement but not much in-depth cinematic analysis which is totally fine because that is not what The Meg set out to do. All of this philosophizing can be attributed to the humor of the scenes and a jab at movies that do try to take themselves too seriously, but it did make me question why they said or did certain things at all that felt misplaced.

And then it hit me: because it’s funny. This summer flick isn’t meant to tickle your cognitive boundaries but to entertain it. They say and do things to move the plot forward against the meg, but those humorous jabs, impatient cuts, seemingly nonsensical lines and scenes are meant to evoke one thing and that is laughter. Or fear. Those are the two main emotions I felt battling for dominance throughout this film, which sounds like an odd enough combo but actually works like chocolate and orange zest; absolutely delightful.

I would recommend this movie because it is entertaining: it has intense, thriller moments cut up with moments of heart and humor. A lot of things happen, so much so that I was a little concerned if this film would ever wrap with an ending we would cheer for. For a movie about sharks and in the season where shark attacks reach a dramatic peak in North American summer fantasies, this is a movie that should be on your bucket list because it will for sure make your seat wet.

Release Date:  August 10, 2018

Director: Jon Turteltaub

Run time:  113 minutes

Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

Genre: Action, Science Fiction, Horror

Rating:  PG-13

Audience: Young Adults

Cast: Jason Statham, Ruby Rose, Bingbing Li, Rainn Wilson, Robert Taylor, Cliff Curtis, Robert Taylor, Winston Chao, Jessica McNamee, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Masi Oka, Page Kennedy, Shuya Sophia Cai

Official Website: www.WarnerBros.com/Meg

jan_8954-e1529960010691Shay Santos | Writing Contributor & Filmmaker
B.A. | Film & Comparative Literature | San Diego State Univ.
Strangely obsessed with rule-of-thirds, color theory, and lightbulbs, Shay should not be left alone with a camera for any extended period of time. She loves telling stories, be it on page or on screen and at the discretion of her two friends. Her one rule for filmmaking is that every shot should be aesthetic. Her second rule is that you don’t have to follow the rules. And the third unspoken rule (punishable by excommunication from the boba squad) is that it absolutely MUST tell a story nix sound, dialogue, and SFX. Catch Shay chilling in the manga section of Barnes & Noble or jamming out to anime OSTs. Instagram @zafra.photography | View My Blogs

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