The Meg just keeps swimming

The Meg isn’t the worst movie I’ve seen this year. It more or less held my attention (though not enough to justify a bloated 2-hour runtime) and was entertaining moment to moment. The worst thing to say about it is that it is quintessentially forgettable cinema. I’m writing this within 72 hours of seeing it and I cannot recall a single character by name. Sometimes that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but The Meg doesn’t even substitute anything for a lack of characters.

The single biggest problem is that it can’t decide if it wants to be an earnest monster movie or a parody. This waffling also prevents the film from being enjoyed ironically, because half the time the movie wants to laugh along with you, and at other times tries to be genuinely scary. If it were a knowing parody, that would probably work, and if it leaned into being more of a traditional monster movie, indulging in more horror or more action, that would work too. Instead it is stuck in a wasteland of what feels like studio notes, a Sharknado created by committee.

Also not helping the film is the amount of plot and worldbuilding required to set up what should be a relatively simple film. Not only is there a futuristic seabase that reaches a new depth in the ocean with science fiction technology, but there is also the fact that Jason Statham’s character had his friends killed by the Megalodon in the prologue. And on the new mission that awakens this giant prehistoric shark? His ex-wife. And I know that sounds amazing, like The Life Aquatic (another shark revenge movie), but it actually drags down the film quite a bit.

There’s too much time spent on setup, but none of the setup is interesting. I’m fine with pseudo-science in the name of Jason Statham fighting a giant shark, but it needs to be quick or somewhat logical (preferably both) but in The Meg it’s neither.

Once it gets into the action, things improve, but not by much. The film is fine overall in the sense that it maintained my interest minute by minute, but again, I had forgotten most of it by the time I had walked from the theater to the car.

In the right circumstances, this could be a fun watch, but most people shouldn’t bother.

The Meg opens in Philly theaters today.

Author: Ryan Silberstein

Ryan spends his days at a company named one of the best to work for in the Philadelphia area, and his nights as a mysterious caped vigilante saving his city from the disease that is crime watching movies. He lives on a diet consisting of film, comic books, experimental beer, black coffee, and those big metal historical markers around town. Follow him on Twitter and Letterboxd.

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