The Meg (No Spoilers)

Posted: August 13, 2018 in Movies
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Back in the late 1990’s I read, on Dark Horizons I believe, about this giant shark movie possibly gearing up production for a late 1999 release. That shark movie was The Meg. Here we are, let’s round it off to twenty years later haha, we finally have an adaptation of the Steve Alten novel. Sometimes the gears in Hollywood move REAL slow. In between this film’s long journey to the big screen I read and became a big fan of Alten’s Meg series of books (there’s six of them to date in case you were wondering). After a false start two years ago, with splatter king Eli Roth ready to direct, the film finally went before cameras last year from director Jon Turteltaub.

After Roth lost the gig of directing – according to sources Roth wanted to make the film a hard R and keep a budget of one hundred and fifty million which the studio would not gamble on – I was torn. I sort of feel, for me, Roth’s movies get a bit too silly with misplaced humour but he would have nailed the horror. Where as Turteltaub is more known for his family friendly Disney stuff like the National Treasure movies. If you know the books then you know how gory and adult they can get. So how did the film turn out?

The Meg is fine. Straight up this is a decent, perfectly okay monster shark movie that you can probably get away with bringing the family along to. Which is fine. Nothing wrong with that. I spoke to my buddy yesterday, he loved it, more than me I think and that is the difference I feel. If you go into this expecting the horror and gore of the books or a film like the Deep Blue Sea in tone and execution you will need to readjust those expectations. If what you are after is a fun and well paced giant shark movie with likeable actors/characters and some great special effects then you’ll probably have a good time with The Meg.

Thankfully the shark looks brilliant. It’s pretty much the stuff of nightmares and the fact these existed millions of years ago is so scary! I was nervous the shark would be a CGI mess. It isn’t. I don’t know how they pulled it off, be it by a mix of practical and CGI, either way it works. In the book the shark is albino but that’s not the case in the film. Not sure how that would have traslated to live action either. What is there more than does the job of instilling awe and fear into the viewer. The set for the undersea research facility a lot of the film takes place in is impressive and hints at a more fantastical angle which compliments the whole thing. For some reason I assumed this was being made on the cheap but nope, it’s estimated budget is $150 million! It’s all on screen too. The film looks great.

What took me by surprise was how much I liked the characters. I expected them, save Statham’s hero Jonas Taylor, to be there to add to a body count. That’s not the case. The film is an esnamble. Bingbing Li, Cliff Curtis, Page Kennedy, Jessica McNamee and Ruby Rose all do good work. Their characters being a team, each of which brings somthing to the table once the Meg is loose and in open waters. I didn’t want to see either of them become lunch. There’s not even really any bad guys. Just, as is the case with Rainn Wilson’s character, people making unwise decisions in bad situations.

Once the shark is loose her trail of terror isn’t as chaos filled as I expected. The horror lover in me would have loved to have seen a bit more carnage and I did feel some awesome moments from the book should have been translated onto the screen. The kills in the movie are pretty quick and bloodless for the most part. That makes sense seeing as the shark is over seventy feet. If you got gobbled up by one that big there probably wouldn’t be much to see.

Apparently the initial cut of The Meg was rated R for gore but the film was cut down in order to appeal to a wider audience. If the opening night box office is any indication that move looks to have paid off. Also, in the book, they play around with the notion of killing or capturing the shark more than in the film. At the end of the day the shark isn’t evil. She’s just doing what she does. The humans went into her realm and messed around before she got loose. The film does touch on that but not in a big way.

The Meg is a fun shark movie. For fans of these sort of films it’s worth checking out. With several sequels to the original novel there’s plenty of content there for further adventures and many more threats that go beyond a giant shark… Check the books out. I’ll say no more.

 

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