When The Meg was first announced it was a no-brainer that this would be a movie I’d be going to see opening day. Why? Well, actually, maybe you didn’t ask that because the answer should be obvious: it’s a movie that centers around Jason Statham battling it out with a giant friggin’ prehistoric shark! If that alone didn’t get you to see it in theaters, and reading that just now didn’t make you already leap up from your computer to dash out and purchase this movie on 4K or Blu-ray…well, I’m sorry to hear that the beacon of light found deep within that guides you towards joy has fizzled out.
In fact, I still stand by my theory that the pitch for The Meg went something like this: “Picture this: Jason Statham versus a prehistoric shark, and –” but then their words were cut off because the studio just started throwing money at them until they were buried in it. And boy, did everybody win in this scenario! The Meg turned out to be a huge hit, which should surprise nobody for the reasons mentioned above, and odds are this will lead to more goliath dino-shark battles in the coming years — and not the kind that go straight to DVD or television!
Based loosely on the book by Steve Alten, The Meg stars Statham as Jonas Taylor, a former Naval Captain and rescue diver who has put his days at sea behind him after a deep-sea rescue went wrong, forcing him to leave his two friends behind in order to save everyone else. That was five years ago, but today his skills are needed once again, as his ex-wife Lori (Jessica McNamee) and two other crew members are trapped beneath the Marianas Trench after their submarine was attacked while on a discovery mission — and only Jonas knows what did it and what it’s truly capable of.
Here’s a hint: “It’s a megalodon.” Okay, that sounds a lot cooler if you read it in Jason Statham’s voice like he says it in the movie.
So how does The Meg hold up upon multiple viewings and in a home theater environment? Incredibly well, actually. This movie is just lots of fun, never taking itself too seriously, but also never falling into the category of schlock. The jokes still hit, as they’re timed quite well with the seriousness of the situation that our characters are facing, and the characters themselves remain one of the film’s strongest points thanks to the actors involved.
Statham is the perfect actor for a film like this, as his presence alone causes The Meg to be taken a bit more seriously than movies like Sharknado, while at the same time being fully aware that no matter how ridiculous the concept may be, no matter how implausible the scenario, arguably the biggest reason you’re going to watch The Meg is to see Jason Statham jump into the ocean and take on this 70-foot behemoth of the sea like only he can.
The cast has some great chemistry, especially when it comes to the leads. Statham and Li Bingbing (who plays Suyin, Jonas’s love interest) have a fun relationship that blossoms nicely as the film progresses, and their playful delivery — sometimes during quite dangerous moments — only adds to the popcorn movie vibe the film consistently exudes. The same goes for the comedic relief that comes from two very different sources in Wilson and Sophia Cai, who plays Suyin’s daughter, Meiying. While the billionaire financer in these movies is often cliché and evil, Wilson’s character seems to have a heart, is actually fun and also delivers some of the best lines in the movie. Cai’s chemistry with Statham and Bingbing also lightens up the movie in often silly, enjoyable ways when it’s needed.
The movie’s biggest flaw is that it almost doesn’t take things far enough. Director Jon Turteltaub said in an interview that the film was originally going to be an R-rated bloodbath, but it was toned down to PG-13 so that more people could go see it. Now, I do get that this movie had a pretty hefty budget, and had it been rated R then it’s possible it wouldn’t have made as much as it did — but that said, it’s still quite disappointing to hear this cut will never see the light of day, as it was apparently a very different script from what was toned down and shot.
This is somewhat noticeable while watching, as there are a dozen or so characters, and far too many of them live for a movie like this. I’m not saying we need to have a ghost crew once things are done, but — okay, yes, I’m kind of saying that you really want to be left with the bare essentials of characters when a movie like this is all said and done.
Now, this doesn’t wreck the movie, as it’s still just loads of fun, but it does leave you to wonder what may have been had they gone the other route. With the success of R-rated features in recent years I’m somewhat surprised they didn’t just go for it, but also get that it’s not really a hill to die on when a movie like this gets the budget it got. Does that mean we may see things get a bit more violent in the recently announced sequel? Well, I’d say that’s the one thing they do need to amp up. I’d wager it’ll still be PG-13 after the success of the first one (though maybe there’s a chance they’ll let them go crazy realizing that an R-rated version would still likely take in a boatload of money with the success of this one), but regardless of the final rating, more death and even more over-the-top craziness is a must!
That minor gripe aside, I still wholeheartedly recommend The Meg to anyone who has a Blu-ray player and has two hours to be entertained by ridiculous giant shark mayhem. Again, I feel like this review really could’ve been, “The Meg is a movie where Jason Statham fights a giant prehistoric shark, go watch it now!” and I’d have been confident that I’d done my due diligence as a critic for you, the reader. So with that said, go now (or at your earliest convenience,) pick up this movie in 4K, Blu-ray or DVD, fill up a big bowl of popcorn (or your snack of choice, who am I to say you have to pop popcorn if you’d rather snack on chips?) and enjoy two hours of Jason Statham kicking giant shark ass…er…tail? Well, you catch my drift.
The 4K version of The Meg looks fantastic. This is a very clean looking movie, and the 4K transfer delivers the goods for those looking for the best visual experience at home. That’s not to say that you’re going to lose out if you have Blu-ray, as the film looks great there too. You really can’t go wrong, as the studio really nailed all transfers when it comes to visuals and audio. On the audio front the movie sounds great with surround sound, or simply a sound bar. The underwater scenes sound fantastic, and the dialogue never does battle with the score, soundtrack or sound mix.
Unfortunately, there aren’t any deleted scenes here. This is something I’m usually a fan of, because deleted scenes are usually worthless and cut for a reason; however, it would’ve been cool to have seen the ideas that were there for the gorier deaths. I suppose it wouldn’t make much sense to say, “This is what could’ve been!” in a case like this, as that could just cause more trouble from those who wished for an R-rated cut to begin with.
For how big a success The Meg was, it seems that special features weren’t on the minds during the time of filming, as the two featurettes we do get are those kinds that are more mixed promotional material (you know, because you need to promote the movie to those who have already bought or rented it) instead of anything substantial.
Creating The Beast – This one is self-explanatory, focusing on the Meg herself and, well, bringing her to life.
Chomp On This: The Making of The Meg – This is one I wish was longer and more in-depth, showcasing more behind-the-scenes footage and the likes. Basically, both special features don’t really bring anything to the table, so this purchase is for the movie all around and that’s about it.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Presents The Meg. Directed by: Jon Turteltaub. Written by: Dean Georgaris, Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber. Starring: Jason Statham, Rainn Wilson, Li Bingbing, Cliff Curtis, Ruby Rose, Winston Chao, Page Kennedy, Dr. Heller, Sophia Cai. Running time: 113 Minutes. Rating: 14A. Released on Blu-ray: Nov. 13, 2018.
Tags: Jason Statham, The Meg