Roger Thomas: ‘The Meg’ — Is the film as big as the title character?

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, August 30, 2018

Roger Thomas

I have written before about my love of the film “Jaws.” I was 12 years old when that film opened in the summer of 1975. “Jaws” went on to become the highest grossing film in history. That lasted two years until a little film called “Star Wars” passed “Jaws.” However, before “Jaws” lost the money prize to “Star Wars,” “Jaws” was nominated for Best Picture and won three Oscars: Best Musical Score, Best Sound, and Best Editing.

Now we have a new shark movie, “The Meg,” that is swimming through our cinemas. The title of the film is a shortened version of the words “Carcharodon Megalodon.”

There have been many shark movies since 1975, but has one finally come along that is better or at least close to the classic? Sadly, it has not.

“The Meg” is not all bad. There are some great effects. I especially liked when the mini-subs go deeper than any crew has ever gone before. I would not want to go there, but on the screen, it is very effective.

There are also some some cinematography and effects late in the film when the shark attacks the swimmers who are enjoying the water at a big beach.

The production design, specifically the underwater sea lab, is impressive. There is a moment when an investor comes onto the lab for the first time. He criticizes the appearance of the place as primitive. Oddly enough, I thought the same thing.

Then the characters get on the elevator, and the modern, clean and beautiful lab under the water is shown to the characters and the audience. That may be the best moment in the film. I know I want to go to a place like that, but without the “megs.”

I also liked the character of Jonas Taylor played by Jason Statham. Jonas is one of those characters which is almost certain to survive because a sequel is hoped for. And if there is a sequel, Jonas would be the logical character to return.

On the other hand, the rest of the cast are not that interesting. The screenwriters, Dean Georgaris, Jon Hoeber, and Eric Hoeber, tried to give these characters some depth, but actually, there are just too many undeveloped characters here.

Looking back once again at “Jaws,” that film begins with a lot of characters, but ends up with the second half of the film focused on three men out in the sea.

And the audience gets a real clear picture of who these men are. Once you know the characters in a story or a film, then the characters matter. Especially if they are in peril.

There is little girl in the film named Meiying, played by Shuya Sophia Cai, who has the best scene in the film. Meiying sees the gigantic shark first. It is outside of the glass of the station. (It might not actually be glass. I do not think the characters or writers discuss the building materials of the “sea lab.”)

No one would want Meiying to be eaten by any shark, small or big. There is also a little dog that is in peril, but the rest of the characters offer little interest for the dog. Also deaths and the perils in this film offer little tension or regret.

One of the best moments in the entire film is when in the aforementioned scene when the little girl sees the “Meg” outside the window. I would not have mentioned that moment except it has been playing in the film’s trailer for at least three months or more. Most people interested in this film have already seen that moment in the film.

So here is my conclusion.

“Jaws” is a classic that had three horrible sequels. “The Meg” will never get to the status of “classic.”

“The Meg” has a couple good characters, some good technical elements; visual effects, cinematography, production design, and that is about all.

So maybe, the filmmakers need to forget about “The Meg 2.”

Roger W. Thomas of Albemarle reviews films for The Stanly News & Press.