The Meg is almost exactly the type of movie one would expect if you told them the basic premise is Jason Statham and a crew of people go after a giant, prehistoric shark. I say almost because there’s this hint that director Jon Turteltaub wanted to make the movie more extreme, more over-the-top, and more graphic than it is, as far as a PG-13 rating can go. Turteltaub and Statham have both expressed how that was the initial plan, but the studio told them that they had to make it appeal to a mass audience. An R-rating, obviously, wouldn’t attract as many moviegoers as a PG-13. So, what we get is something that pushes as far as it can to maintain that family-friendly rating.
Does Turteltaub do all he can and still make The Meg a lot of fun? You bet. This is a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously and just takes the absurdity of its plot and runs with it. The screenplay is sprinkled with other shark movie references here and there, but it doesn’t force them down your throat for the sake of nostalgia or cheap laughs. They’re a nice touch mixed in with the shark mayhem.
Jonas Taylor (Statham) is a former rescue diver whose last mission resulted in the death of many of his crewmates. He believes he saw something massive attack his ship, but it’s also something that is long to have been extinct. No one believes him, and he is forced out of his longtime career and ridiculed by his colleagues.
Years later, while soaking up the sun in Thailand, he is recruited by an old friend named Mac (Cliff Curtis) and a respected scientist named Zhang (Winston Chao) for a rescue mission. A crew manned by Jonas’ ex-wife (Jessica McNamee) has been lost, and Jonas is asked for assistance in finding the team. While going after the missing crew, Jonas comes across the same creature that killed his team years ago - a giant, prehistoric shark known as the megalodon.
Despite it being held to limitations, The Meg is a boatload of dumb fun. Statham is clearly having a blast in the role, and Turteltaub knows that he’s not exactly aiming to make the next Jaws. Statham works well with child actor Sophia Cai, who constantly - and in a very cute way - refers to him as crazy. Their chemistry is the best part of the non-shark moments. Where Turteltaub does stumble is in certain moments when a character dies and the movie does try to make the viewer feel sorry for said character. It doesn’t quite fit the B-movie narrative that The Meg aims to achieve, but it’s also not a big chunk of the runtime.
Warner Bros. has released The Meg in numerous formats. The one received for review purposes is a Blu-ray/DVD/digital copy combo package that also comes with a slip cover. The film is presented in a 16x9, 1080p high definition format with an aspect ratio of 2.4:1. The bright blue of the ocean glimmers so nicely in the transfer, and the 5.1 Dolby Digital audio perfectly captures the sounds for when the shark attacks.
The special features are a little weak here, unfortunately. One is “Creating the Beast, which is a look at how the visual effects people came up with the shark design. Another one, called “Chomp on This,” dives into the behind-the-scenes aspect of the film and has interviews with the director, some cast members, and other people from behind the camera. The last one is a two-minute feature that explores the New Zealand Film Commission, and discusses how The Meg was filmed in Auckland and other places. It’s not listed on the Blu-ray cover, oddly enough, and it almost seems like an advertisement more than a feature.
The Meg is reminiscent of silly, B-grade monster movies that came out in the '90s, such as Deep Rising, Anaconda, and others. Although it doesn’t quite reach the level of absurdity and schlockiness as those two films did, it’s still a fun, popcorn-munching kind of movie.