Review – We’re Gonna Need a Better Script (“The Meg”)

No, this isn’t a movie about Meg Griffin from Family Guy, it’s about a shark. Oh, but not just any ol’ shark, no siree! THIS shark is the extinct Megalodon, a ginormous prehistoric shark that makes Jaws look like a goldfish. Maybe it’s an experiment that escaped from Jurassic World? Quick, someone call Chris Pratt!


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In a movie best suited to the 3am slot on the SyFy Channel, we got this; a ridiculously silly, plot-holed riddled, and totally clichéd movie that rips-off Jaws in more than one way. Welcome to Mana One, a multi-billion dollar oceanographic research facility just outside China and run by Dr. Minway Zhang (Winston Chao) and his lovely daughter, Suyin (Li Bingbing). Oh, and there’s also Suyin’s precocious little 8-year-old girl, Meiying (Shuya Sophia Cai) who’s there for the cutsie-pie factor.

Anyway, just as bubbly billionaire Jack Morris (Rainn Wilson) shows up to inspect where his money has gone towards, he gets a shock. A small diving sub has discovered a previously unknown section of the ocean floor hidden by a weird layer of freezing cold that, apparently, prevents its inhabitants from escaping. And what do they discover? Why, it’s the prehistoric shark Megalodon and… it’s suppertime! Trapped down there, they call in your typical “he’s the best in rescuing people, but he’s got a past and it’s been five years since he’s done anything” kinda guy. Yes, it’s Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham), who fits the bill!

So, after a harrowing rescue, Jonas sticks around because that darn shark escapes it’s cold, dark home and is on the prowl. Faster than you say, “We’re gonna need a bigger boat”, Jonas, Suyin, Jack, and the gang hunt down the giant beatsie and succeed… well, sorta. Apparently nobody told them Megalodon’s come in pairs! Uh-oh! An even bigger Meg is on the loose and that beach loaded with happy swimmers looks particularly yummy. Will they be able to stop this ginormous shark? Is there another one lurking in the depths? And how is it people get eaten in these movies, but dogs don’t

The screenplay, based Steve Alten’s 1997 novel, was written by some guys who aren’t exactly known for their winning scripts: Dean Georgaris (Paycheck), and Jon Hoeber & Erich Hoeber (Battleship). Honestly, you could pretty much tell that this movie was LOL early on by virtue of the trailer alone. Ripping off (or paying homage to) Jaws left and right is keenly evident, so the writers decided to add pockets of humor, lotsa sci-fi action & gizmos, and underwater super-tech submersibles that look like something from the old Super-marionette TV show, Thunderbirds Are Go!

The only thing keeping this movie alive, aside from its gaping sized plot holes, really bad dialogue, incredibly mundane and overused storyline, is the direction. Jon Turtletaub manages to keep this bilge afloat, despite the inane script. Turtletaub has cranked out some damn fine movies, like the two National Treasure films. He can pull action and suspense from the dumbest situation and make a CGI Godzilla-sized shark look menacing. Statham does his usual glowering and growling, but doesn’t manage to beat anybody up here (too bad!). The others are your A-typical two-dimensional characters that are all interchangeable. Ho-hum. Personally, I was rooting for the shark.

JAWS (1975)

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Question: Can a single motion picture have such a huge impact on society that it permanently changes it? The answer is: YES! Director Steven Spielberg and book author Peter Benchley did just that when their movie, Jaws, caused a ripple effect that has indelibly altered everyone’s perception of sharks to this day.

From John Williams’ earworm “Dah-Dum–Dah-DUM!!” score etched into our minds to every person who goes to Universal Studios and takes that tram ride, hoping to see Bruce the great white shark rise out of the lagoon and attack them, this movie is a testament to how one film can effect a nation. Crafted from the bestselling book of the same name, Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts is where Spielberg chose to film his movie about the sleepy little coastal village of Amityville where, once a year during the Fourth of July Holidays, their town hosts a gala surge of vacationers to support their town.

Unfortunately, a great white shark has chose to stake out their beaches as its feeding ground and has already killed teenager Chrissie Watkins (Susan Backlinie), something that Mayor Larry Vaughn (Murry Hamilton) refuses to believe, even after another kid is killed. Meanwhile, police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) wants to close the beaches, much to the consternation of the hysterical mayor who overrules him, fearing that the town’s summer economy will be ruined. The only sane voice is Matt Hooper (Richard Dryfuss), a professional oceanographer and shark expert who comes to town to help out.
 
Cantankerous local fisherman Quint (Robert Shaw) offers his services for $10K, so Martin, Hooper, and Quint all take off to find this eating machine and kill it. But what they find is a 25-foot lethal fish with razor sharp teeth that wants to eat their boat… and them! Who will live and who will die? One thing is for sure, nobody comes out of this movie unchanged. After Jaws, shark sightings rose exponentially, ‘great white sharks’ were now a household name, Shark Week was invented on the Discovery Channel, there were literally hundreds of film rip-offs (mostly on the SyFy Channel), and that John Williams Jaws theme song was instantly recognizable and had been used everywhere!
 
The movie is iconic, no doubt, like Star Wars or Citizen Kane, and has earned its place in history. There have been three terrible sequels, Jaws 2, Jaws 3-D, and Jaws: the Revenge  (four if you count the holographic Jaws 19 from Back to the Future), plus countless imitation movies, a 1976 cartoon series called Jabberjaw, and more merchandising than you can shake a dorsal fin at. Spielberg even spoofed his movie’s opening in movie, 1941, where Susan Backlinie (who played the first victim, Chrissie), goes for a swim, but instead of getting eaten, she gets almost impaled by a Japanese submarine periscope!
 
Tasty Trivia: The TV interviewer on the beach? That’s Peter Benchley, the author of Jaws. The shark’s name is Bruce, after Bruce Ramer, which is the name of Spielberg’s lawyer. The movie was almost never made; it ran waaaaay over budget. At an initial cost of $3 million, Spielberg spent $9 million (mostly on the shark), making Universal Studios very nervous, but for for too long, as the movie made $86 million in its original run.    
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