4 Things that didn't suck about The Meg
Last Friday I finally got to see The Meg.
If you’ve read a few Top Hun posts, you’ll probably know that I was very excited about this film, being a huuuuuge shark film fan. Jaws, as I previously wrote about, is one of the finest films made last century, in my humble opinion. Even films like Deep Blue Sea are not without merit. Feeling this way, I went into The Meg feeling positive.
For the duration of the film I was interested in what was going on. I got one big jump scare and was moderately engaged with the plot.
But once the film had finished, I felt nothing.
This is, without doubt, a fun action film for the summer. So let’s take a moment to compare it to another of the fun action films that came out this summer- Mission Impossible: Fallout.
Although a different premise, the goal of these two films is the same, big thrilling set pieces with some impressive special effects.
I’m not one to endorse Tom Cruise, as I believe Top Gun era Cruise was replaced with some form of Lizardoid overlord circa 1995, but Mission Impossible: Fallout was good. Everyone in the cinema knew what they were signing up for with that movie, and loved it all the same. We came out of that screening buzzing from the super tense set pieces and trying to work out how all of the double crossing had worked. We got all the helicopter crashing, bomb disabling bang for our buck and it was good.
Now let’s talk about The Meg. We don’t know any of the characters in this film and we’re never really shown much about them- apart from some pretty mundane features of Jason Statham’s prior life as a super daring but troubled deep sea rescue diver. As a result, we don’t care about them much. I definitely didn’t. We all just wait for the star of the show, the big ol shark. And once you see the big ol shark, that’s kinda it really. There’s one twist, but it comes half way through and once you know it…again, that’s it.
Maybe I’m being a harsh critic of this film as a hardened shark film nerd, but this film just felt as limp as a dead whale bitten in half by a giga shark. But then, I think that being a shark film nerd made it all the more easy for me to be impressed by this film and I wasn’t. Come on, I don’t need much shark to be pleased with a film, and The Meg gave me a LOT of shark but still fell short.
Being a positive person, I want to move on from my viewing of this film remembering some of the things I did like about it. Being negative gets us nowhere, as my wise mum would say, so I’m putting my positive pants on and thinking of 4 things that could make watching this film worthwhile if you are made to sit through a screening against your will.
1. Loads and loads of sharks and people that like them
It’s not just the titular megladon that stars in this film, we get a whole tonne of sharks. I also liked that the human cast were marine biologists who love sharks and the ocean. If I had watched this film as a young, less critical lass, I would have felt inspired to learn more about the ocean. But I didn’t watch this film, I watched Jaws, so now I know what a good shark film is like.
2. Uses big money platform to talk about environmental issues.
This is scraping the barrel a bit, but there’s a scene where the meg takes down a shark finning boat. I like this justice, even if it’s imagined and I like to think that including this tiny scene in such a big blockbuster might improve awareness of finning. Finning is absolutely disgusting- the showing of lovely big sharkies thrown back into the sea with their fins cut off to drown is one of the few that I remember clearly from this film. We can’t complain about shark attacks on humans when we treat them that horrendously for a bit of soup that even Gordon Ramsay said wasn’t that good. A lot of the underwater shots also feature plastic litter and we all know that’s a flipping big, very real problem (unlike Megalodon- for now).
3. Cool little female protagonist
By far the best actor in this film is Shuya Cai, the 8 year old who plays Meiying. She’s awesome and sasses the adults repeatedly throughout the film. I hope she gets some more big parts in the future.
4. Loads of tributes paid to iconic shark movies
I enjoyed spotting moments in this film that are replicated from other, better shark films. The beach scene is almost a direct rip from Jaws- even down to small details like the young boy asking for more time in the water. Jason Statham tells the meg to ‘Chomp on this you ugly…’ which reminded me a lot of the closing line of Jaws- ‘Smile you son of a…’ Other films like Deep Blue Sea and even Jaws 3 were referenced. Honey you know you’re in trouble if you’re taking references from Jaws 3.
So, to conclude, if you are trapped in an alternate universe which is only screening this film this weekend and you have cinema vouchers that run out tomorrow and your internet is broken, maybe go and see this. If your internet is working going on Netflix or amazon prime and watch Jaws instead because it’s actually good.