The Meg (2018)
Critic Consensus: The Meg sets audiences up for a good old-fashioned B-movie creature feature, but lacks the genre thrills -- or the cheesy bite -- to make it worth diving in.
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as Jonas Taylor
as Dr. Minway Zhang
as Jack Morris
as Jaxx Herd
as The Wall
as James 'Mac' Mackreides
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Critic Reviews for The Meg
Asks little more of you than to strap in, put away your phone and enjoy watching a freakishly huge prehistoric eating machine terrorize some scientists before it turns its appetite to a beach full of frolickers on floaties.
The film delivers on that silly-stupid-summer-fun promise, while also exceeding expectations in terms of action and set-pieces
Maybe director John Turteltaub thought the barrage of pathos and yuks would distract from the fact that his star is a very big fish that is not very bright. Still: cool shark, bro.
I wanted this movie to be wackier, crazier, and over the top, the problem is that it's PG13.
The Meg is oddly charming, more pulp than cheese, like the sci-fi pumped out in the 1950s.
Audience Reviews for The Meg
Ever since Steven Spielberg's Jaws cemented the concept of a Hollywood blockbuster, sharks have been synonymous with the summer movie season. Just last year a small-scale indie thriller, 47 Meters Down, was a breakout hit with a planned sequel on the way (they ignored my obviously brilliant suggestion of naming it 48 Meters Down, thus proving each additional entry would move the depths a measurable increment of peril). People love them some killer shark movies and the bigger the better. Well it doesn't get much bigger than The Meg, a movie with a monstrous prehistoric Megalodon shark approaching 75 feet long (that's one half of 47 Meters Down, if you think about it). The Meg has enough awareness, payoffs, and fun to stay afloat and be a better B-movie. Deep under the Mariana Trench, a team of deep-sea scientists has discovered a new habitat previously cut off by man. From here emerges the Megalodon, a ferocious predator that has no earthly competition. The team seeks out the help of Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham), a one-man rescue squad who had a run-in with The Meg in his tragic past. The science team must rescue its trapped members, track and evaluate the shark, and prevent the ancient beast from feasting on the locals in the South China Sea. This is a big stupid shark movie about a big stupid shark, and The Meg provides enough fun to at least warrant one trip out into the water. It's a monster movie that follows a well-worn formula of discovery, containment, escalation, and then all-out large-scale disaster. I appreciated that the succession of events followed enough of a logistical cause/effect relationship that allows the audience to better suspend disbelief and stay within the movie's agreeable wavelength of campy thrills. This is the kind of movie that introduces a family of whales only to mercilessly kill them off screen as passing shark food. It's the kind of movie that knows we want to watch Statham punch sharks in the face. There's genuinely more shark action than I was expecting and the action sequences have been given consideration to maximize their popcorn thrills. I am used to recent shark movies that hinge on the threat of the shark as an aquatic Boogeyman, on the peripheral and always threatening to return. With The Meg, once the shark is loose it's a constant presence and persistent problem. There is one moment where our hero has to shoot a tracking device into its dorsal fin. He has to get close while also not disturbing the water and calling attention to himself. It's a well-engineered and developed suspense sequence that takes advantage of the fun possibilities at play. There are more moments like this that exemplify a degree of thinking and development than sloppy, slapdash CGI mayhem. This is a major co-production with China and it's easy to tell. It's a $130 million Hollywood hybrid with an inclusive cast, global danger, and the havoc wrought on the human population this time are Chinese beach dwellers running in panic. The co-lead is Chinese star Bingbing Li (Transformers: Age of Extinction) who is set up by literally every character to be the romantic interest to the dashing Statham. Even the man's ex-wife is on the same mission, trying to hook these two up. Statham banging this single mom is the key to bridging these two market forces together, apparently. Speaking of the man in question, Statham (The Fate and the Furious) is dependable and irony-proof no matter the absurd film scenario. He provides the audience a reliable anchor amidst the genre silliness, plus gratuitous shirtless beefcake shots. He can say the most ridiculous lines of dialogue with a straight face and make you believe it. He's also great with children. Some of his best moments are his interactions with little Meiying (Shuya Sophia Cai), the young daughter of Li's character. Statham is so charming and natural around children, and he's able to coax instant chemistry with a child actor. Why hasn't somebody given Statham a Rock-style family vehicle where he acts alongside a precocious group of kids? What if he's an over-the-hill action star helping a group of kids make their own amateur movie? What if he's an ex-special forces agent-turned-birthday party magician trying to fish out a hidden target? What if he's a retired movie star trying to coach a pair of kids how to get their parents back together? I never knew I wanted this. There's enough of a knowing awareness that let me know the filmmakers understood the goofy kind of movie they were making. It's not exactly turning to the camera and winking but it feels like it's nodding at you, asking you to play along. This is exemplified in Rainn Wilson's (TV's The Office) character Morris, the outspoken billionaire who founded the whole science station. He's general comic relief in a movie about a giant shark because The Meg doesn't treat the shark as comic. After discovering the creature, the science team is ready to take things slowly and cautiously, and Morris flatly screams that we have no time for slow here. When Jonas jumps into the water to take on the shark, it's Morris exclaiming how awesome it is. The best example is when one of the lead scientists takes a moment to bemoan the overreach of science in a "what have we done?" speech, and Morris just throws up his hands and walks away grumbling, disinterested in listening to any self-serious yammering. Morris kept amusing me because we were repeatedly alike in our commentary and requests for this film experience. Even with scaled-down expectations, The Meg is still a monster movie that probably needed to be campier or more frightening to be a better movie (I gave the same diagnosis to Krampus). It's a fun film that understands what a genre audience wants, though it could have pushed further and found ways to subvert those expectations or given us more mayhem. This isn't a tiresome so-bad-it's-good-but-it's-still-bad genre wankfest like the tacky Sharknado movies. It's also not the delightful, campy, gory B-movie that is Deep Blue Sea. It's a monster movie that has a sense of amusement and doesn't waste time pretending to be too serious even when the professorial characters are given to lament. It achieves a middle zone that satisfies enough of your cravings but not fully hitting them. Not quite as enjoyably dumb as the earlier Rampage, The Meg is still a relatively silly, splashy monster movie with solid thrills, action development, and a good sense of what its core audience demands and how to go about fulfilling that promise. Statham and company plow ahead through the genre shenanigans and make it out the other end bloody yet unscathed. My biggest criticism is that I wanted more; more camp, more carnage, more knowing nods, the kind I got in abundance in last year's gloriously entertaining Kong: Skull Island. It gave me enough of a tantalizing preview of the better movie it could have become. Still, The Meg is a slice of summer escapism that gave me enough thrills, laughs, and satisfaction to leave me wanting more but mostly content with what I ultimately got. Nate's Grade: B-
Remember that super colossal huge shark movie that changed everything about watching summer films? No, not that one. And not that other one. Man, there's been a lot of shark movies! The first one. Yeah, that's the one. Jaws. Well this movie takes your money and asks you the very same question I just asked you. Takes your money. Well do you remember? Do ya, punk? Well, this ain't that movie. But it does remind you of it.
SHARK WEAK - My Review of THE MEG (1 1/2 Stars) Is THE MEG negging us? Should we call it "Megging"? I wish I could say everyone knew what movie they were making, but I'm not completely convinced. I also wish I could report that this was a documentary about whatever happened to Meg Ryan, or Meg Tilly, or even Meg Foster, but we all want things, don't we? What starts out as a semi-serious first act with real emotions and stakes, quickly descends into a campy (unintentionally perhaps? I'm not sure), overly melodramatic series of bonkers set pieces, culminating with the Shark Meets Zorb moment we never knew we needed. But there it was in all its plastic-popping glory. Jason Statham plays Jonas Taylor, an angry underwater rescue worker of some sort...oh who cares...he's angry and that's about all you'll ever need to know about him. He makes a tough early decision which leads everyone else to believe he's crazy. Everyone else are a team of scientists who discover all sorts of new life far below some inexplicable layer in the ocean. Faster than you can say "Mariana Trench what?", people take their little pods down there and discover a prehistoric shark, aka The Megalodon". It's huge. It eats JAWS 3-D for breakfast and throws it up all over DEEP BLUE SEA, that's how big this motherf*cker is!! Tagging along for the ride is Rainn Wilson as the douchey billionaire who funds the whole operation, and, surprise, surprise, doesn't have everyone else's best interests at heart. Billionaires, as we have painfully learned, can be terrible people. The rest of the crew brings a refreshing diversity to the table, with actors from China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand (Hi Cliff Curtis! Nice to see you after your untimely demise on FEAR THE WALKING DEAD!). THE MEG wants international dollars, so it's as big and as stupid as Warner Brothers could make it, yet hoping you'll respond by saying, "Well that was exactly what I needed...a big, dumb slab of summer escapism!" Trouble for me is that with the world being as awful as it is right now, I worry that it's all people want to see. The trouble with this type of studio filmmaking is that it tends to lose its nerve by hedging its bets in its quest for pleasing everyone. It's a shark movie with very little blood and gore. We get plenty of attack scenes, but they deliver kinetics and not the FANGORIA style explicitness we crave from this genre. I'd like to keep going, but THE MEG doesn't really merit film criticism. It's getting the random thoughts treatment instead: -Should we finally call it and say Director Jon Turteltaub is a hack whose best movie was WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING? -Winston Chao's attempts at serious drama don't fit in here. Every time he tries to make this swill into something more (a bad idea!), I was reminded of the dying puppet at the beginning of TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE who told his lady love, "I'm so cold!" before expiring. -Jason Statham should have just stayed in that towel for the whole movie and gave the people what they wanted. Anger goes further when you're in a towel. -Bingbing Li has perhaps my favorite moment in the film when she thirstily looks through a window at Statham's half-naked body. Please, somebody turn this into the MAN HUNGRY MEME the world needs right now! -Ruby Rose looks like TANK GIRL or some CGI animated character, and yet she's human. -Jessica McNamee made quite an impression on me with her turn as the despicable Margaret Court in THE BATTLE OF THE SEXES. Here, I just kept wondering is she was Rebecca Romijn. -Seriously filmmakers. Little dogs are worth saving. Bratty kids sucking on popsicles are not. It's ok to turn them into shark chum! Didn't you watch the first scene from Episode One of THE WALKING DEAD? Sometimes it's ok for films to cut little children loose. -Here's a compliment. I worried that a shark this size would appear lumbering and not very scary. I was wrong. This is one fast, agile, giant beast. Good on ya for that much. -THE MEG is 113 minutes long. Shouldn't somebody get written up for that? Sure, MEG spelled backwards is GEM, but this film, like its prehistoric star, moves painfully, agonizingly forward.
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