Movie Spotlight: The Meg

The Meg is a 2018 science fiction horror film directed by Jon Turteltaub with a screenplay by Dean Georgaris, Jon Hoeber, and Erich Hoeber, based on the 1997 book Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror by Steve Alten. The film stars Jason StathamLi BingbingRainn WilsonRuby RoseWinston Chao, and Cliff Curtis, and follows a group of scientists who must stop a 75-foot Megalodon shark from terrorizing a beach.

Disney originally purchased the film rights to the book in the 1990s, but after several years in development hell the project landed at Warner Bros. Turteltaub and much of the cast joined by September 2016, and filming began the following month in New Zealand.

An American-Chinese co-production, The Meg was released in both countries on August 10, 2018, in Real D 3DDolby Cinema, and IMAX.

Plot

Jonas Taylor, a rescue diver, attempts to save a group of scientists, among them Dr. Heller, from a massive, underwater shark attack. Taylor is able to rescue some but refuses to go back to save the rest, having realized that going back for the rest would mean the death of all.

Five years later, Jack Morris meets Dr. Minway Zhang at an underwater research facility called “Mana One”, which Morris finances. Zhang and his daughter, Suyin, an oceanographer, are supervising a mission to dive further into the depths of the ocean, which is being conducted by Lori, Taylor’s ex-wife, Toshi and the Wall in a submersible. The mission appears to be going well, until a large object hits the submersible and causes it to lose contact with Mana One.

James “Mac” Mackreides, another crew member at the station, suggests sending Taylor down to attempt a rescue, after he suspects the object which hit the underwater ship to be Megalodon, a giant shark thought to have been extinct. Dr. Heller objects, but Zhang and Mac decide to travel to Thailand to recruit Taylor anyway. Persuaded to help, Taylor is able to reach the stranded three scientists. Toshi then sacrifices himself in order to allow Taylor to safely escape the submersible with the Wall and Lori.

Back at Mana One, the station receives a signal that sharks have broken through the depths of the ocean – including the Megalodon. The group decide to track and inject poison into the Megalodon. However, in carrying out this plan, the crew kill the wrong shark. The Megalodon then attacks the crew, resulting in the deaths of Zhang, Dr. Heller, and the Wall.

Critical response

On the review aggregation website Rotten TomatoesThe Meg has an approval rating of 50% based on 109 reviews, with an average rating of 5.6/10. The site’s critical consensus reads, “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.” On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 45 out of 100, based on 41 critics, indicating “mixed or average reviews.”

Owen Gleiberman of Variety gave the film a mixed review, calling it “neither good enough or bad enough,” and writing, “The Meg, a rote sci-fi horror adventure film that features a shark the size of a blue whale, comes on like it wants to be the mother of all deep-sea attack movies. But it’s really just the mother of all generically pandering, totally unsurprising Jaws ripoffs.” In a more positive review, Alex Hudson from Exclaim! said the film succeeded nicely on modest terms; “As pulpy action films go, this is the best blockbuster about prehistoric monsters you’ll see this summer. Sorry, Jurassic World.” Scott Mendelson of Forbes was impressed by the film’s special effects and called it “a polished B movie that delivers the goods,” while IGN‘s William Bibbiani praised the performances of the cast, particularly Statham and Bingbing.

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