Spectacle can make up for a lot of deficiencies in our entertainment. If you are seeing something you’ve never seen before, or perhaps something that remains impressive regardless of whether or not it was previously unseen, it can distract from otherwise weak areas of a product. Case in point, The Meg features a giant shark. And not just any giant shark: a megalodon. You know, a giant shark that went extinct a couple of million years ago. So not only does the movie have a giant shark, but it has a giant prehistoric shark. There’s something you don’t see every day.
The Meg follows a team of researchers, a billionaire, Jason Statham, and a child as they try to stop the aforementioned giant prehistoric shark from wreaking havoc upon the world. They unleashed it from previously unexplored depths below the Mariana Trench, and now instead of contacting literally anyone more capable of handling it, they’ve decided to stop it on their own. After all, if they tried to get help, someone else might get the shark or its carcass and get that sweet, sweet scientific recognition (and money).
It has some characters, none of whom you’ll care about, even though there’s an earnest effort to get you to root for a couple of them. The acting is fine—Statham and Li Bingbing are the highlights, but the cast also contains Rainn Wilson, Winston Chao, Ruby Rose, and Cliff Curtis, among others, all of whom are fine. The plot is silly, illogical, and pretty basic. And there’s almost no intelligence or thematic depth. You aren’t going to be doing a lot of thinking during this one.
Does any of that matter? It depends who you are, I guess. If you can only appreciate smarter, deeper movies, then you’ll probably be turned off by this one. If you are okay with watching a pretty well-crafted but absolutely dumb movie about a giant prehistoric shark for a couple of hours, then you’ll have a good time. When deciding whether a movie is good or bad, it’s important to take into consideration its goals, its competition, and also how it stacks up in the various categories that make it up.
And The Meg succeeds in more ways than it fails. In terms of shark movies, it’s more competently made and tries a lot harder than most of its contemporaries. It’s entertaining and works as a B-movie. While it lacks in its plot, characters, and intelligence, it provides some thrills, some decent filmmaking, and a giant prehistoric shark. I don’t know if I can emphasize that last point enough. The spectacle is distracting, but also the most important part of the whole exercise. It’s why The Meg is a success.
You probably already know if you’re going to like The Meg. It’s a spectacle B-movie about a giant prehistoric shark, and if that sounds like it appeals to you, you’re going to have a good time. It’s not as great as it could have been if it had stronger themes or better characters, but as a silly B-movie, it’ll satisfy the people it wants to. And, no, the novelty of seeing the giant prehistoric shark never wears off.
Conclusion: The Meg is 2018’s shark movie and it’s one I’m glad we have.
Recommendation: You like sharks? You like giant sharks? You like giant prehistoric sharks? Yeah, you’ll like The Meg.