Is it a stretch to believe that the maker of this giant shark movie also directed 3 Ninjas, While You Were Sleeping and Cool Runnings? I guess anyone can make anything and Jon Turteltaub lives up to that. But we’re here to talk sharks. And this flick has a big one — a 75-foot long megalodon, a prehistoric shark through long extinct. The trailers and posters for this one whipped audiences into a frenzy as it seemed like non-stop giant shark action was about to swim onto summer screens. We finally saw it once it hit blu ray and are ready to share our thoughts.
Based on Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror by Steve Alten, this sat in development hell for over a decade before finally getting an approved script a few years ago. Eli Roth was originally going to direct but dropped out over artistic differences.
A few years ago, Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) was trying to save the team of a sunken nuclear submarine when an unknown creature attacks. Taylor is forced to leave two divers behind to save the rest of the crew and is blamed for their deaths by teammate Dr. Heller (Robert Taylor, Agent Jones from The Matrix and Longmire from, well, Longmire) as he belives that Taylor has gone mad from pressure-induced psychosis.
Billionaire Jack Morrie (Rainn Wilson) has financed Mana One, an underwater research facility, with Dr. Minway Zhang and his daughter Suyin. Their goal is to explore a deep section of the Mariana trench that has been covered by a thermocline frozen cloud. A submarine piloted by Toshi (Masi Oka, Hiro from Heroes), The Wall and Taylor’s ex-wife Lori try to penetrate the trench, but are attacked by an unknown creature and their vehicle is lifeless on the ocean floor.
James “Mac” Mackreides suggested that they get Taylor down there, as its very similar to his last mission. When they meet him in Thailand, all he wants to do is drink and stay lost until he learns that his ex is in danger. Meanwhile, Suyin takes her own sub to try and rescue them before a giant squid nearly crushes her craft, being saved at the last minute by a massive shark.
Toshi sacrifices himself to save the crew and when they get to the surface, all of Taylor’s stories of a mysterious shark suddenly sound a lot more plausible. Oh yeah — Suyin also has a young daughter named Meiying who comes face to face with the Megalodon, which they soon catch.
But yes, you guessed it, there’s a catch (sorry, punny today) and another even bigger shark attacks their ship, eating that dead giant shark and nearly all of the crew, minus the two I didn’t mention, Jaxx Heard (Ruby Rose) and comic relief DJ (Page Kennedy).
The elder Zhang dies of injuries and Morris claims that he’s alerted local governments and naval forces, then evacuates the crew. However, he’s really trying to kill the shark for himself to save his company from lawsuits. If you guessed that he gets killed himself, you’ve been paying attention to shark movies. Big points to him for trying to blow up the shark, as we know that usually works 100% of the time. However, this shark is so smart that it uses a whale as camoflauge. Yep. A super smart monster shark from the past.
You’d think with a premise like that this would be more exciting. And it’s fine — but maybe I’ve been spoiled by completely goofy exploitation versions of shark movies. Once the beast makes its way to a crowded beach, I was hoping for some carnage, but it’s nowhere near the scope of insanity that I was hoping for.
That said — the ending where multiple sharks attack the Megalodon is pretty awesome. But I was kind of hoping for that level of inventiveness throughout. I did kind of like the nod to Jaws with the fat child asking his mom if he could go swimming, as well as the fast version of the classic theme that played while Suyin was in the shark cage. Also, when the crew watches the presentation of the Megalodon, it looks like Matt Hooper is in the photo of the shark’s jaws. There are also kids riding a banana boat just like Jaws 4, which is one of Becca’s favorite movies ever in defiance of the rest of humanity. There’s even a dog named Pippin, much like Pippit from Spielberg’s film. And the biggest Jaws cue is that the sound of the Megalodon dying is the same as Jaws (and the truck in Duel) meeting its maker.
They definitely set up a sequel here, but this was one expensive movie. With a production budget of around $175 million and a $140 million marketing spend, it needs a lot of money worldwide to break even. That said — it’s obvious how much of this film was created to appeal to the burgeoning Chinese market for American films.