Movie Review – The Meg

I’m mulling over The Meg. It was a ton (er, rather, several tons) of fun, but after having viewed the original Jaws this week, my expectations are a bit high. I also have high expectations for movies with dinosaurs and other ‘real’ animals (as opposed to ‘monsters’).

[pullquote]Megalodon was a real shark, and an ancient one, and it’s not totally inconceivable that there could be a thermal inversion layer under the Marianas Trench[/pullquote] with a “lost world” of prehistoric creatures roaming around. It’s been said we know more about the moon than what’s deep in our own oceans.

In fact, the brief dive under the Thermocline is the best, most beautiful, and stirring part of the movie. It wasn’t goofy, like many later scenes; in fact, it was almost like seeing Pandora, from Avatar. It was a magical glimpse of a place I would have happily watched through an entire movie. That early part, with the submersible rescue, is the best act of the film, laden with all the adventure, heroism, action, suspense, and scares I hoped for.

[pullquote position=”right”]I loved the top of the line undersea rig too: it had a spiffy science-fiction feel. More of that would have been welcome too: like a space station, or moments of life on an underwater planet.[/pullquote] So there was some wonderful stuff to play with, had the story chosen such routes.

Once the Megalodon follows our heroes to the colder, more modern ocean, everything got a bit more staid…and eventually silly. I didn’t mind if the entire film was comedic — honestly, I didn’t know what to expect from this one, whether straight up horror or camp — but I got mental whiplash from trying to follow what genre The Meg wanted to settle on.

Were any of the characters good? Um. Hmmmm. [pullquote]Jason Statham did about as well as any actor leading an adventure genre, but with less of the grace and humor I would expect from Vin Diesel or The Rock[/pullquote]. He had the in-joke name of Jonas, but his is the only name I recall out of any of the other characters. The little girl was a good child actor, but I can’t say anyone else even tried.

The scariest scene for me: when the Meg starts to SWALLOW the plastic canister. I’m not going to say more about this, in case you haven’t seen the film yet, but that had me pretty gripped/grossed out. And then there’s the early moment when the Meg bites the sea station. This shark is fast, mean, and incredibly ungainly. Ugly and vicious.

But still, the movie is no adrenaline  joyride. By the time The Meg ended I was kind of tired, instead of happy, or jazzed, or excited. After the disappointment of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, I didn’t really know what to feel. I wanted wondrousness, and to be moved — or at least feel my pulse pound — and saw a couple glimpses of what could have been. I’ll stick with a B- for now, but I’ll think on it. It might not be worth more than a C+.

However, maybe it’s best to not think on this movie at all, and let it be lightly fun, instead of grand or thoughtful. There’s always the original Jaws for the best of this kind of summer blockbuster fare.

Movie Grade: B-

About the Peetimes: We have 3 good Peetimes. Each has pros and cons, but I’d recommend the 1st over the others. There’s no action until after the Peetime ends.

Related: 

Movie Rewatch Review — Jaws

Meet the Real Meg

RunPee’s Original Infographics: Meg 1 and Meg 2

Why Avatar Was Such a Good Idea

Best Scenes From Jaws and Why They Work

Things You Didn’t Know About Jaws/Things Wrong with Jaws

Best Quotes from Jaws

Jaws: Honest Trailers

 

Movie Rewatch — Jaws

Dun dun. Dun dun. DUNDUNDUNDUNDUNDUNdoodooDOOOO!

This movie still blows me away (not unlike the way a certain 25-foot Great White got blown) and I am super surprised. I knew it was good, but I didn’t remember it being THIS good. Like A+ level good. Steven Spielberg, while young, was already on his game.

It’s hard to hold the title of First Ever Blockbuster. And it’s harder even to look back since 1975 and agree that such an “old” film holds up to our current movie-going standards.

[pullquote position=”left”]Remember, suspense-horror-action fans, it’s what you don’t see that’s the best kind of scare. Alien did it. Recently the very good A Quiet Place did this perfectly.[/pullquote]

This review is going to have some spoilers, but since it’s been a while since the 70s, even people who missed Jaws the first time pretty much knows most of the plot (via pop culture osmosis).

The gore is surprisingly low key. There are two distinct grisly moments, and one of those is a jump scare. (That would be the one-eyed human head under the boat). And the only real icky scene is the real early one, where the naked girl’s remains are a bloody lump chewed on by a seething mass of crabs. It’s a quick thing, and you get more visceral punch from the random policeman who found her: he’s so squicked out he can ‘t watch, stand, or even be near the remains. You can almost smell it yourself.

The less you see of ol’ Bruce (Jaws’ real-life mechanical contraption) as he swims by or attacks, the better he looks. He’s got one or two raggedly bad side shots that really look awful (like when it’s on the boat, attacking Quint). Since Spielberg knew how bad his rubber shark looked, the crew kept it mostly underwater or head on, where we see only the big bloody mouth coming at the screen.

[pullquote position=”right”]But. Then. The film really lucked out. Now we’re talking about the human actors – the big three. It works, and works fabulously. You know who they are. [/pullquote]These are three very different characters, who come together and make you sit forward, avidly watching each moment build, smiling as they compare scars, then shivering in suspense as the story plays upon what came before. When the stricnine laced needle falls useless to the ocean floor, and the shark cage is in tatters, you’d do just what Hooper did — lie still under some flotsam and ride it out. Recall that the shark responds to prey-like panicky ‘fear’ movement.

Back on what’s left of the ship “Orca” (a great in-joke), Brody has one trick left, and isn’t looking like he’s going to survive this. However, the magic of subtle foreshadowing saves the day in a way that simply makes sense. It’s not a last minute Hail Mary – this has been baked in from early on, if you paid attention. The resolution is incredibly satisfying.

[pullquote]The fine acting of characters Brody, Quint, and Hooper elevate what could have been just another sensational summer disaster film into the stratosphere of real greatness.[/pullquote]

And you know what else? THIS MOVIE IS INCREDIBLY FUNNY! I don’t think childhood “me” thought it was funny (I thought it was scary, even though the iconic Musical Shark Cue gave me most of those shivers).

But in this viewing, if I wasn’t gripped by a scene, I was laughing. And sometimes I was gripped AND laughing. This is frakking good storytelling.

The ending is so completely satisfying that you walk out with a big smile. I sat through the entire end credits, just to see Brody and Hooper make it, swimming on those barrels, back safely to shore. Then I could breathe again, and turn the laptop off. I haven’t felt so excited and satisfied by a monster action movie since Pitch Black or Aliens.

Something really fun: there’s a heat wave going on in So Cal, and I’ve been swimming in the pool daily. To the point where I wan’t going to dry out for movie watching…and yeah, I swam and paddled through my entire Jaws rewatch, laptop on the edge of the pool. This wasn’t planned. By the time I realized it, I was glad it was a pool, and not, you now, the ocean. (Although I love the ocean and no fraking fish is going to keep me out of it.) I just thought it was an interesting juxtaposition.

So.

Did I bother to watch the sequels?  Good question. In a word: No.

Should I?

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Want to hear some crazy stats from the Jaws franchise? Rotten Tomatoes gives 1975 Jaws a coveted 97% score. For a film in an era of public smoking and casually sexist behaviors, that’s pretty awesome. For the sequels, the critic scores drop down FAST:

Jaws 2 – 57% (Meaning more than half of the reviews think it’s worth a shot – like a B- or C+)

Jaws 3 – 41% (Meaning “meh”…see it at home if you can’t get enough sharks chomping swimmers)

Jaw 4: The Revenge – 0% GOOSE EGG. It’s in fine company with several John Travolta movies (see even recently: Gotti gets the Goose). But the ZERO is way more than enough to sink the shark and his brethren for decades. Only weird franchises like Sharknado returned to this well, and as far as I know (I haven’t seen them), they are mostly a joke, like Snakes On A Plane.

And now….we have The Meg: all about an ancient, titanic sea shark the size of a cruise ship. We’re covering the science of Megalodon, the Mosasaurus, and the Great White on RunPee.com for your geeky enjoyment!

Movie Grade: A+

About the Peetimes:  “The Meg” inspired us (Dan, Jill, and RunPee Mom) to do a rewatch of the classic JAWS and add Peetimes for it. (Just for fun.) We even recorded a podcast of our discussion about which Peetimes we would select. To sum: With a perfectly made film like this, finding Peetimes was easy and a joy. We always maintain that a well made film has both times of excitement, and times to recover. The movie builds on these solid principles.