Many years ago, while perusing the aisle of Barnes & Noble, I came across a book called “The Trench” which piqued my interest. See, this book was being advertised as one of the greatest shark stories since “Jaws”, and the fact that it focused on the megalodon, made me immediately pick this book up and start reading it, then picked up “Meg: A Novel Of Deep Terror”, as I learned that “The Trench” was a sequel. A few years later, I heard rumors that Hollywood was looking to make a movie based on “Meg”, but it ended up getting stuck in developmental hell so my hopes of seeing a movie version were soon dashed. I didn’t pay much attention to what was going on with this movie until a few years ago, when I heard that Jason Statham had been cast in the lead role and that filming had begun. This was like a giant Christmas present to me so I eagerly awaited for the movie to land in theaters so I could finally watch The Meg. Recently, I decided to check out all of The Meg books from my local library and figured that I should continue in that vein with my movie choice today so let’s have some fun with The Meg.
The -plot: Deep in the Philippine Trench, Jonas Taylor and his crew are attempting a deep sea rescue of a damaged nuclear sub. As Jonas finds a wounded man and begins bringing him back to the sub, something begins slamming into the hull of the damaged sub, causing it to begin to collapse. Jonas tells his crew to get back to their sub but as he brings the wounded sailor on board, his crew, Marks and D’Angelo, tell Jonas that they are trapped. Realizing that if the sub implodes, it will kill him and the rescued sailors as well, Jonas makes the difficult decision to leave his crew so he can save everyone else, though medical officer Heller says Jonas was a coward and left the men to die. 5 years later, billionaire Jack Morris heads out to the underwater research facility Mana One, which he financed, where he is greeted by Dr. Minway Zhang, Zhang’s daughter Suyin, and Suyin’s daughter Meiying. After descending to the command deck of the lab, Zhang explains his theory that what scientist initially believed to be the bottom of the Mariana Trench was actually a dense thermocline of hydrogen sulfide, concealing an environment completely cut off from the rest of the world, where new species of aquatic life can be found thriving. Morris, Zhang, Suyin, and the rest of the command crew (James “Mac” Mackriedes, Jaxx, DJ, and Heller) watch on the monitors as the sub crewed by Lori Taylor, Toshi, and The Wall, descends through the thermocline and begins exploring the area. Suddenly, the sub picks up a large object on it’s sonar, which attacks the Rover the released for exploration and as the object begins attacking them, Lori shouts into the radio that Jonas was right before the Mana One loses radio contact with the sub. As the command crew discuss their options to rescue the sub, Mac says their best bet is to get Jonas, as he is the only man to successfully complete a rescue at that depth. Heller and Suyin argue against Mac involving Jonas, as Heller says that Jonas had imagined something attacking the sub during the rescue, but Zhang overrules them, saying he owes it to the sub’s crew to give them the best chance possible. Mac and Zhang head to Thailand, where Jonas is now living, and after playing him the tape of the sub’s last communication and telling Jonas that his ex-wife Lori was the one piloting the sub. Back in the sub, The Wall manages to restore power back to the sub so they don’t freeze to death but Lori realizes the lights will attract whatever attacked them and goes to turn them off but is too late as the sub is struck again, with Lori being impaled by a screwdriver before they can get the lights turned off. Back on Mana One, Heller is showing Suyin the footage of his session with Jonas, telling her that Jonas had imagined the creature as a result of a bout of psychosis of the deep when DJ tells them about the sub being attacked and leaking air, prompting Suyin to get into one of the deep sea gliders to try and rescue them. Jonas, Max, and Zhang arrive shortly after Suyin’s launch and after a brief medical exam by Heller, much to Jonas’ annoyance, Jonas heads to the sub and follows Suyin down to the bottom of the trench. Suyin breaks through the thermocline and as she locates the sub and prepares to rig it for towing, she is attacked by a giant squid. As the squid begins to crush the glider, it’s grip suddenly goes slack and Suyin sees that it has been killed by a massive megalodon. Jonas breaks through the thermocline and as the megalodon begins heading towards the glider, he is able to lure it away by firing some flares from his sub. Jonas tells Suyin to head back to the surface, then he heads to the damaged sub and manages to rescue Lori and The Wall but when the megalodon begins heading back for them, Toshi closes the hatch and turns on the damaged sub’s lights, sacrificing himself so the others can escape. When they reach the surface, Heller works on saving Lori’s life and Suyin blames Jonas for Toshi’s death but later apologizes for her commnets. Later, a meeting is held to discuss the megalodon and while Zhang wishes to take things slow in studying it, Morris want to rush things, as he feels it is a potential gold mine in the making. As arguments break out on how to proceed, Meiying is playing in another portion of the base when she spots the megalodon staring at her, right before it attempts to bite the window. Mac and Jonas both feel the collision and they head out to see what happened, accompanied by Suyin. They find Meiying, who tells them there is a monster outside, just as they see the megalodon kill a baby humpback whale that the research station was studying. Everyone heads back to the command center, where Jaxx tells them her theory about how the megalodon managed to reach the surface. Suddenly, the Mana One receives a distress signal from 3 boats and when they head out to investigate, they find the megalodon has destroyed the three boats and eaten the crews. They see the megalodon swimming nearby and Jonas heads out and manages to shoot a tracking dart into the megalodon, then is pulled back onto the boat before the megalodon can eat him. The crew then prepares a shark cage so that Suyin can shoot some poison-filled darts into the megalodon’s mouth. Suyin manages to shoot the megalodon but it attacks the cage, causing the ship’s crane to fall onto the deck. Jonas dives into the water to rescue Suyin, while The Wall rigs the ship’s second crane to form a trap for the megalodon and the manage to capture it as it goes after Jonas and Suyin, with it’s struggles against the cable causing it to drown. After reviving the nearly dead Suyin, the crew are congratulating themselves on killing the megalodon when a second, even larger megalodon, leaps out of the water, swallowing The Wall as it attacks the dead megalodon. The ship is flipped over and as everyone tries to make it back onto the sinking ship, Jonas helps the severely wonded Zhang while Heller sacrifices himself to ensure that Jaxx makes it back onto the ship. Mac manages to grab the life boats and they head back to Mana One, only for the megalodon to follow them but Morris’ security team manages to tag it before driving it away. Zhang dies before they reach the station and Morris tells the assembled crew that he has alerted the authorities and is closing down the station until the megalodon is killed. However, Morris did not contact the authorities and instead, made plans to kill it himself. Morris and his men head out and his helicopter drops some depth charges but instead of killing the shark, they kill a whale. As Morris tells his men they need to leave, he is accidentally knocked overboard and ends up being killed by the megalodon as it feeds on the whale. The next day, Mac learns what Morris had done and Jonas makes plans to commandeer the evac ship so they can go after and kill the megalodon. The megalodon heads to Sanya Bay, where panic erupts when people notice the giant shark swimming around. As the shark begins attacking the people, Jaxx and DJ lower a buoy playing recorded whale songs, luring the megalodon away from the bay and towards where they plan on attacking it. When the megalodon arrives, it destroys the buoy and chases after Jonas, who damages his own glider and lures it towards Suyin so she can fire a torpedo at it but the torpedo explodes too soon. Suyin then lures the megalodon towards Jonas but his torpedo doesn’t fire and he is forced to avoid the megalodon , causing it to strike the evac ship in the process. On the surface, some news choppers are hovering over the ship to report on the megalodon when two of them collide in mid air, with the wreckage falling onto the ship. Mac, Lori, Jaxx, DJ, and Meiying are forced to jump into the water to avoid the debris and Suyin heads back to the surface to help them. Jonas then pilots his sub and uses the damaged side of his glider to slash into the megalodon’s stomach but it hits him with it’s tail, causing his glider to lose power and allowing the megalodon to grab it in it’s mouth. As the megalodon crushes down on the glider, Jonas is able to escape and plunges a spear gun into the megalodon’s eye, finally killing it. As Jonas watches the megalodon begin to sink, a massive swarm of sharks appear and begin to feed on the carcass. A hammerhead approaches Jonas but Suyin arrives and rescues him, then takes him to the ferry that rescued the others. As the crew recover from the ordeal and toast their lost friends, Jonas sits with Suyin and Meiying and discusses taking a vacation.
The Meg met with mixed reviews from the critics, currently holding a 46% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “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.” In the books, the megalodons were albinos, with a luminescent glow due to adapting to the absence of light in the deep water trench, but that proved to be too difficult to render in CGI so they chose to make the sharks look more like the typical great white shark. Disney had bought the film rights for the book in 1997 but got cold feet about competing against Deep Blue Sea so they went into turnaround (offered it to another studio so they could recoup their costs). Despite the mixed reviews, the movie was a commercial success, earning $530.3 million off of a $178 million budget, and a sequel is in developement, with a script currently being in the works.
Let me go ahead and say, it has taken me a long time to stop comparing a movie to the book it is based on. Ok, that is a lie because I still do it, but I am at least usually able to enjoy a movie even if it doesn’t match up perfectly to the book. That is why, even though there were several differences between the original book and the movie, I was able to enjoy The Meg. The acting was pretty good in this movie, with Jason Statham (Jonas) doing a great job in the lead role, as was Bingbing Li (Suyin) and Shuya Sophia Cal (Meiying), with the interaction between them being really good. I also liked Rain Willson (Morris), Cliff Curtis (Mac), and Ruby Rose (Jaxx), as they turned in some pretty good performances as well. While the story did differ from the book, the plot was still pretty decent and they did rework some scenes from the book to fit with the plot of the movie. I do think they could of done a little more in explaining how the megalodons survived in the trench, instead of the brief, glossed over theory that was shown during that one briefing scene. One thing I did like was all the various allusions to “Jaws” that occurred throughout the film, since Benchley’s novel was something of an inspiration for Steve Alten’s novel. The special effects in the movie were pretty good, and I do have to give props to the CGI team on the megalodons, as they really did look more terrifying than your average shark. I also liked the visual effects during the underwater scenes, especially the scenes in the trench, as they showcased some real underwater beauty in those brief scenes before the megalodon attacked. It’s no Jaws, but this was an entertaining movie and worth giving a shot.
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5