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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Aug 13, 2018

The Meg Movie Review: A Popcorn Monster Movie For The Us Summer, About The Megalodon, The Underwater Dinosaur

THE MEG is a monster movie intended for the U.S. summer but it’s obviously also an American-Chinese co-production meant to capture the huge market of Chinese viewers, so the cast is a combination of Asian and Caucasian actors, plus the token African American. A combination of the classic “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” with the more recent “Jaws”, it’s set in the Marianas Trench in the Philippines, in Thailand and in Shanghai.

Based on the novel by Steve Alten which has had many sequels, ‘The Meg’ is a prehistoric 70-foot shark called the Megalodon, which everyone thought is extinct like the dinosaurs. The movie opens with Jonas (Jason Statham), a deep sea rescue diver assigned to save the victims of the creature in a submarine. He’s not totally successful as he had to leave quickly to save the people aboard his own rescue ship. No one believes him that the Meg exists, so he retires and lives in Thailand.

Five years later, he is forced to return to business when a research team, with his ex-wife in it, Lori
(Jessica McNamee), is trapped in a submersible at the bottom of the heretofore unexplored recesses of the Pacific Ocean. The research is financed by a greedy billionaire investor, Morris (Rainn Wilson), who wants to make money out of the Megalodon. Of course, he will pay a very high price for his arrogance.

The high tech research station in the middle of the sea has a team of international scientists led by Dr. Zhang (Wilson Chao) and her daughter, marine biologist Suyin (Li Bingbing), who has a very cute daughter. Also in the research lab are a female engineer, Jaxx (Ruby Rose), and Dr. Heller (Robert Taylor), who once doubted Jason’s story about the Meg.

Suyin resists the idea of Jason joining her in her mission to rescue the trapped scientists in the submersible. But Jason proves to be one tough adversary for the sharks (yes, it turns out there’s more than just one Megalodon) and, at some point, he even manages to save Suyin herself from sure death in the fangs of the leviathan who attacks them relentlessly.

Once they have saved themselves from the Meg, it now becomes their task to kill it before it gets to the beautiful Chinese beach resort in Sanya, which offers a smorgasbord of unsuspecting swimmers and merrymakers. If you enjoyed “Sharknado” (the disaster TV movie that became such a big hit it spawned five sequels), then we have no doubt you’ll also find this movie with its computer-generator monster quite delightful.

Size matters on the big screen, as has been proven but other movies about monster creatures from “Godzilla” and “Kingkong” to “Jurassic World” and “Pacific Rim”. “The Meg” is a fairly entertaining popcorn movie with some exciting moments showing the giant shark attacking ships and people. The last shark movie that did good business is “The Shallows” in 2016. But “Jaws” remains to be the best shark movie of all time.

Director Jon Turteltaub (“National Treasure”) manages to come up with some thrilling sequences that will please the crowd, like Jonas’ efforts to rescue Suyin when the cage that’s supposed to protect her from the shark is about to be swallowed whole by the beast. But overall, “The Meg” comes across as more like a B movie rather than the real deal in blockbuster movies. It’s not bad enough, but neither is it good enough.

The actors who support Jason are actually second-tier and they all play forgettable characters. Also, many sequences are so derivative and seem recycled. It’s a passable time-killer, but it’s not bloody or scary enough to make you squirm with delight in your seat. The original 1975 “Jaws” by Steven Spielberg remains to be the mother of all shark movies. It really succeeds on playing on our fears starting with the now classic opening scene where you become so afraid on how it is to have your limbs bitten off and this tactile terror is then played off throughout the movie.
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