REVIEW: The Meg is a Fun (Albeit Slightly Compromised) Creature Feature
Why Warner Bros. would sand the edges off of something as inherently gruesome as this will probably be left to eternal speculation. For now, I’ll say that the good news is that The Meg is still a pretty entertaining summertime delight in spite of whatever behind-the-scenes meddling may have occurred. It’s funny, good-looking, and doesn’t overstay its welcome. Overall, it’s the kind of movie that works as a good capper to what has been a pretty mediocre summer movie season.
Jason Statham’s made a career out of turning watchable action junk into pretty good action junk. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that he’s tailor-made for pulpy nonsense like this. He’s essentially playing what would, in the SyFy original version of this material, be the “Bruce Campbell” role and he nails it by doing with a straight face. Not much can be said about much of the rest of the cast outside the standard child actor not being as annoying as child actors have a reputation for being in these kinds of pictures and some fun work from the likes of Ruby Rose and especially Rainn Wilson. Harry Gregson-Williams provides a surprisingly memorable score. Containing echoes of like Jerry Goldsmith and the late, great James Horner, it boasts an aura of grandeur and swashbuckling adventure that such matinee-friendly aquatic thrills deserve.
Negative aspects are minor yet still worth a quick mention. There are a couple strange editing hiccups (like dialogue cutting out before a character on-screen is done speaking and some other jarring cuts); but, those are too infrequent to qualify as anything more than minor nitpicks. I never thought there’d come a day where the guy who made National Treasure is complaining that he couldn’t make the R-rated gorefest he wanted to; yet, here we are. Granted, there are some fairly gruesome moments and fun surprises. Heck, the eponymous giant shark meets a pretty gnarly demise. Sadly, most of the kills aren’t particularly and feel pretty tame (probably at the studio’s request). Also, the screenplay’s kind of clunky. That being said, I’m willing to go easy on it after seeing a film like Skyscraper not too long ago, a film with a script that could charitably be described as amateurish at best. Even if the horror in this action-horror flick is kind of lacking, the action part more than makes up for it. All of the battles with the shark are sufficiently entertaining and the climax is about as ludicrous as one could hope for it to be. The shark devouring hapless beach patrons and nearly eating an adorable puppy is played in a perfectly campy fashion, with civilians treated less like casualties of a natural disaster and more like fodder at an oceanic all-you-can-eat buffet.
At the end of the day, complaining about something like this is a futile endeavor. The Meg delivers you exactly what you’re paying to see when you step up to the ticket booth and does it fairly well. It’s an ample opportunity for some quality talent to kick back and dive head first into some tongue-in-cheek genre territory. Let me sum it up like this. When your trailer features sun-bleached carnage backed by Bobby Darin’s Beyond The Sea, it’s crystal clear that no one involved is taking this too seriously. Check it out!