Wednesday, November 14, 2018

'The Meg' Is Monstrously Tame

The Meg follows a group of scientists working in “Mana One”, a state-of-the-art underwater research facility.  Their latest mission: to verify the hypothesis that there’s a deeper, unexplored part in the Marianas Trench that is hidden underneath a thermocline cloud.  This is confirmed by a submersible mission they sent.  But it shortly loses mobility and contact with the base.  To recover its crew, rescue diver Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) is recruited to perform the job.  However, they would soon discover what they are dealing with in that corner of the ocean – a terrifying sea creature long thought to be extinct, the monstrous shark known as the Megalodon.

It’s quite obvious from the start that The Meg is just a silly thriller.  The plot is daft, and the direction is generally predictable (although it has somewhat of a plot twist that is reminiscent of Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters).  Meanwhile, Jason Statham is an entertaining screen presence – as he’s always been – and Li Bingbing is as attractive as ever, but their respective characters are uninteresting, and their supporting cast is utterly one-dimensional.  However, these don’t necessarily mean this movie is automatically not worthwhile.
You see, when it comes to shark attack movies, I can only think of two that are legitimately good: Jaws and The Shallows.  The rest of the crop tend to be dumb and ludicrous – either being “so bad, it’s good” or just plain bad.  Now, since “so bad, it’s good” shark attack movies can be memorably fun, cheesy popcorn flicks (e.g. Deep Blue Sea, Sharknado, Ghost Shark), I was way more than fine if The Meg turned out being one.  Unfortunately, it lies somewhere on the border between “so bad, it’s good” and “just plain bad.”

It’s probably because it doesn’t quite embrace its wacky, ridiculous nature.  Whenever it does, it definitely entertains.  It generates satisfying sequences.  But there are also significant times wherein it becomes seemingly misguided in thinking that it can be something more, so it begins treating itself too seriously.  And because of the air of pretentiousness it creates, its flaws are only magnified.
Moreover, it’s apparent that its featured carnage was limited by the PG-13 rating.  Much, much more could have been done if it had gone for R.  It definitely would have been infinitely better.

In other words, The Meg would probably have been thoroughly enjoyable with its badness if it had just settled with committing to being the best dumb, ultra-violent spectacle it could possibly be.  Instead, by not playing its cards right, it ended up having a very uneven entertainment value.

No comments: