There are many types of films that make for a good movie experience. There’s the critically acclaimed, or Oscar-bait movie; that groundbreaking flick that awes you with everything from writing to costumes to performances to special effects. Then there are the blockbusters, those highly anticipated movies that get the adrenaline pumping and the excitement flowing. Then there are the popcorn films that don’t promise to be anything other than stupid fun that you don’t need to think through. Mindlessness can be just as much fun as high intensity superhero films or Oscar-bait dramas; ask the Scarecrow. Friday night, for a little date night, me and my partner decided to treat ourselves to exactly this kind of movie experience; our film of choice, The Meg.
A return to the classic B-grade monster movie, The Meg tells the story of an exploration mission that takes a turn when three members of a crew descend to new depths and get besieged by an enormous prehistoric shark: the Megalodon. Rescue diver Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) is hired to rescue the explorers, but the mission takes a turn when the Meg manages to follow them to higher depths. Now it’s out in the open ocean and heading towards populated beaches and it’s up to the exploration crew at Mana One to stop if before hundreds of people become its dinner.
Based on the book Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror by Steve Alten, this movie is everything you could want in a fun monster flick. A simple story made complex by the science fiction element of prehistoric animals still somehow still living and threatening our survival, The Meg is both unbelievable and highly enjoyable. While the well-placed jump scares successfully provide a fair chunk of the shocks, a fair level of terror is achieved through the mere fact that this monster is a predator and unbelievably huge. One of the scariest scenes is its attacking a shark cage and while the characters aren’t in the least bit concerned that the cage will break, it never occurred to them that the shark is so big it could merely swallow the thing! Just through scale and natural behaviour alone is the prime tension and horror created and it’s really quite exciting.
There are various recognisable characters and tropes that add to the delightful mix of excitement and suspense that is this film. Characteristic of the genre, a large level of the film’s drama is caused through man’s greed for fame, money, status, which of course comes back to bite them (literally). Along with this The Meg is a movie made for certain audiences and its inclusion of Chinese actors as well as on location scenes is a pretty heavy nod towards its target market.
However, the financial and strategic agendas do not get in the way of the fun movie experience that is The Meg and while the whole thing does look a ludicrous film, it doesn’t try or pretend to be anything more and this is where the genuine fun comes from.