‘We’re gonna need a bigger boat’
Since the release of the 1997 novel, Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror, studios have been scrambling to get this fish tale of the Megalodon to cinemas. Steve Alten’s water-based sci-fi/horror cuts across numerous genres that seem to satisfy audiences who love the idea of a 75-foot shark terrorising oceanographers and the beaches of the world. Now as this colossal monster swims into theatres, director Jon Turteltaub (Phenomenon) looks to move toward the Sharknado alliteration of this genre rather than trying to match Spielberg’s vision seen in the classic that started it all, Jaws.
Mana One is a state of the art, underwater facility designed for the study of the greatest depths of the oceans of the world. Funded by the multi-billionaire Jack Morris (Rainn Wilson) and overseen by world-renowned oceanographer Dr. Minway Zhang (Winston Chao) and his daughter, Suyin (Li Bingbing), this is a facility on the cutting edge of ocean exploration. The scientists’ goal is to prove that beneath the deepest chasms of the sea, another layer of investigation exists. After breaking through the natural barriers that had stopped previous expeditions, the initial exploration team is attacked by an unknown force and the subversive vehicle they inhabit finds itself at the bottom of the ocean with little hope.
In a desperate attempt to rescue the stranded crew, defying all logic and time continuity, the Mana One leadership team manage to travel to Thailand and convince expert diver, Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) to assist in the retrieval of the lost crew. Upon the successful recovery of the team, the rescue mission leads to the unexpected release of an undiscovered monster, a megalodon. This massive shark begins to terrorise the sea exploration team and then sets its sights on the beaches of the world. The remaining crew of scientists must fight against their desire to study the beast and determine how to destroy the creature before it attacks more unassuming victims in the local waterways.
Upon knowledge of the plot, the synchronised eye roll must have been experienced by all who are familiar with this monster tale. Suspension of disbelief has to be taken on board with the consideration of how this creature was never discovered before and how this leads to the potential destruction of the ill-fated beast. These stories only honestly work if the creators are self-aware enough to realise how ridiculous these considerations are for audiences and to have fun in the process. The marketing would suggest that director Jon Turteltaub and Jason Stratham provide the necessary wink of awareness needed to make this plot accessible, but something must have gone wrong in the editing process.
With the inclusion of the British action star and comedic talents like Rainn Wilson and Page Kennedy (Rush Hour), this has all the earmarks of a beautiful combination of terror and humour. Steve Alten has provided filmmakers with the largest shark in cinema history to build the story around, but despite having all of the critical elements for success, the end result is surprisingly boring and contains few scares or laughs. Despite trying to provide an excellent mix of diverse cast members, none of them adds anything new to the cinematic spectrum and the multi-cultural cast becomes predictable and monochromatic in their performances.
Is The Meg ridiculous and does it fill the void of monster films this season? Sure it does and it will provide an interesting choice to end this season, but in the end, it is a shark tale without much bite.
REEL DIALOGUE: What do I do with my fears? When engaging with films like The Meg, the filmmakers capitalise on a fear that Jaws introduced audiences to in the 1970’s, sharks.
Is this a fear for you? Even if you do not have an anxiety of the water-based predators, how about the fear of death and how this inevitably can happen at any time and seemingly in random ways?
To allow fear to rule life is to put faith in the ‘what could be’ of life, which can lead to a mental, emotional or physical paralysis for many. Fear means to focus on what may or may not happen, which even existed in people of the Bible. Moses, Gideon, Esther and more had to work through their fears.
The answer to this is to not focus on the ‘what could be’ of life but to look to the God of the universe for solace and strength. Jesus is the one who defeated death and offers freedom from fear through his life and words. The Apostle Paul writes of this when addressing the concern of a young disciple named Timothy. Read through these words and know that they answer where we should all put our fears. The answer to fear
Trailer for the film