'The Meg' Review: A Popcorn Movie that Keeps to the Shallows

Sharks are perennially a sure thing when it comes to pop culture. Every year we get Shark Week, and SYFY still laughs all the way to the bank every time they kick out another Sharknado film. So when something like The Meg trailer came along, it was like blood in the water with fans of popcorn movies (myself included) thrilled at the prospect. Unfortunately now that the meg has surfaced, it turns out that what was promised in the trailers translated to something more toothless than we would have ever expected.

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Based on the series of books by author Steve Alten and adapted by the sibling screenwriting team of Jon and Erich Hoeber (authors of Red and Red 2), The Meg is about a group of deep-sea explorers who unwittingly stumble into an isolated area on the sea floor which has been hiding the last remnants of the giant pre-historic shark species, Megalodon.

The Meg

If you thought Bruce from Jaws was big as a Great White clocking in at 25', the meg in the film is three times larger at more than 75' long. Meanwhile, Jason Statham chews up the scenery and has a grand ol' time in the classic vein of "hero who's the best at what he does (in this case doing super-deep sea rescue missions) but is haunted by a past mistake, but you know he'll eventually jump in and take the shark by the tail."

The first problem is that this is a shark film. People get eaten in shark films. So why Warner Bros. decided to cut the film down to a PG-13 rating is a mystery, because as soon as it does, huge amounts of the anticipated fun gets pushed off screen. It'd be like if a Fast and Furious film wound up having all of the car crashes happen off screen.

The cast is fine, the writing is decent, there's a few fun moments, and the film isn't badly made (nothing as offensive as 47 Meters Down), but it doesn't go far enough to embrace the cheese. Without dialing it up to 11, it winds up being a handful of fun set pieces surrounded by doldrums — and clocking in at just shy of two hours, that's not a good thing. But if you're looking for a shark-adventure film to take the whole family to (11-13-year-olds wouldn't find anything in this shocking), you won't wind up offending anyone.

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The Meg opens in theaters on August 10th, 2018.

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About Bill Watters

Games programmer by day, geek culture and fandom writer by night. You'll find me writing most often about tv and movies with a healthy side dose of the goings-on around the convention and fandom scene.
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