‘The Meg’ is a Meg-cellent movie
The Meg is one of those few films that sounds awful in theory. Yay, it’s another shark movie, like we don’t have hundreds of those lying around? Wow, it’s Jaws but with a bigger shark? But despite every cliché the movie uses, it still stands out. It’s a fun, rather self-contained movie about giant killer sharks, what’s not to love?
The movie has a clear sense of character. Each one has a job to do that makes them unique, without coming across as robotic. Sure, most of the characters are cliché. Like the brooding protagonist no one listens to, the eccentric billionaire/minor antagonist that bails on his employees, or the scientist that wants man to stay out of nature’s way. Yeah, they’re all cliché, but they still manage to stand out from each other. Some of the dialogue can be clunky, but overall it feels natural.
The use of the Megalodons in this movie was just right. Not too much, and not too little. It would have been nice to see some more full body shots, especially of the bigger one, but all in all the way the film presented the sharks worked. The movie also had a comedic tone that balanced out the seriousness and stress of the rest. Characters often bounce jokes off each other, only to scream and cry a minute later. Just like the sharks, the film found a balance Thanos would be proud of.
The Meg takes advantage of its clichés. The writers know that everything in this movie has been done before, and they use that knowledge very well. Everything from the reason why the Megs still exist to the way the characters interact with each other relies heavily on the idea that the audience knows these overused tropes, and doesn’t mind them.
Although it does several things right, the film does fall into some tropes and traps that can make it dull and predictable at times. At many points in the movie there are fake-outs, where a character gets scared or is silent or disappears for a short time. It’s intense for a few seconds, and then it’s revealed that everything is a-okay. Usually it’s accompanied by the rest of the cast laughing. But then immediately afterward something (usually the Meg) pops out and actually does whatever the fake-out previously tried to do.
For example, after the crew catches and kills the first Megalodon and hoists it onto the ship, the neckbeard scientist character jokingly puts his head in its mouth to take a picture. Someone else moves the shark and causes Beardy to fall off the boat into the ocean. Everyone has some much-needed comic relief and then immediately the second Meg flies out of the water to chomp on the dead shark, eating him in the process. While that isn’t bad on its own, it seemed like half of the movie, and the more memorable parts, were fake-outs.
Other than that, the only real other negative piece of criticism is that they sort of stopped the movie after killing the second Meg. I know that they don’t have to worry about the sharks anymore, but it did attack a heavily populated beach, and no one seems to talk about it. Not to mention that if there’s two Megalodons under the ocean, there’s more. Maybe they’re counting on Meg 2: Electric Boogaloo.
As someone with severe Thalassophobia (fear of the ocean/sea) this movie gave me anxiety. I remember audibly wincing and gasping when I saw this the first time. Because of that The Meg deserves a lot of credit for what it was able to achieve. It’s a fun, albeit stress-inducing movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously. After all, it’s just an cool action movie, it isn’t supposed to be groundbreaking.
Featured image from Comicbook
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