Guys, I have a confession. I love shark films. They’re certainly not to everyone’s tastes and I don’t think there’s been a single critically acclaimed shark film since Jaws in 1975 but I just can’t get enough of them. Last year we saw Blake Lively take on a shark in The Shallows but this year things are bigger and better as Jason Statham takes on the Megalodon. Whilst the concept of a giant shark might seem ridiculous nowadays, the Megalodon did exist once upon a time. The Megalodon is an extinct species of Shark that roamed the sees over 2.5 million years ago. Or so we thought.
The Meg begins with a tragic incident in the Mariana Trench. Jonas Taylor (Statham) is forced to abandon his ship and half his crew after being attacked by a sea monster over 70 feet long. Nobody believes his story and he is branded crazy, sending his career sinking to the depths of the ocean. Five years later, he receives a call. There’s a crew stuck at the bottom of the ocean after being attacked by an unknown sea creature. Could it be the Megalodon? Could Jonas have been right all along?
Whilst many believe that shark films had their heyday at the end of the twentieth century and we should’ve left them there, I believe that shark films are making a comeback. Why? The advances in technology mean that these days, the sharks actually look realistic. The sharks actually scare people. We no longer need to rely on ominous music and splashes of red liquid in swimming pools, the sharks can actually come to life with the help of technology.
As a result, The Meg is really quite frightening at points, and whilst I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a “science fiction horror film”, which is the description Wikipedia have given it, it’s not for the faint-hearted. You never know what’s going to happen next and where the shark is going to pop up and unfortunately that meant my wine was violently spilled all down my front when said monster took me by surprise! This is one you’ll want to watch in cinemas on the big screen, or even in 3D, to get the full effect of this giant, horrifying beast. They don’t go too hard on the horror as this film is still rated a PG 13 but there are enough frights for a grown man to be jumping out of his seat.
Despite the shocks and thrills, The Meg is actually a very funny film too. The balance between comedy and horror is struck perfectly and there are just as many laugh-out-loud moments as there are jumps. The whole crowd was chuckling along to this before gasping and sinking back into the safety of our seats. This film plays with your emotions and gets your heart-racing, just like a shark movie should.
What I found most amazing about this film is that the cast is pretty diverse. Usually shark films involve a host of hot, skinny blonde girls and guys (who inevitably end up eaten), but there’s none of them here. The Meg is a Chinese-American co-production and so a couple of the main characters are Asian. A couple are also black. This definitely isn’t the norm with major blockbuster releases such as this and the increase in Chinese-American partnerships in Hollywood make me very happy.
Thankfully we’ve moved past the days where production companies simply stick a Chinese celebrity in a major Western movie to increase sales in China, despite the fact that they can’t really speak English. I’m looking at you, Green Lantern. The Asian actors Li Bing Bing and Winston Chao prove that there is no reason why Asians should always play the awkward side kick or nerdy med student. We’re perfectly capable of getting stuck in and battling a shark or two, too!
But what about Statham? Not many people know this but before Jason Statham took up the helm as Britain’s resident action movie guy, he was a world-class diver on British Commonwealth teams. Statham is a natural in the water and this aquatic film setting was perfect for him. Fans of Statham’s previous films will no doubt revel in his new role driving speedy submarines instead of Audis and BMWs. He’s not an actor known for playing diverse roles but he’s good at what he does and if ain’t broke…
The Meg star Rainn Wilson described this film as “Jaws on steroids” and I couldn’t agree more. The sharks are bigger and scarier than ever and this film will make you very glad to be living on dry land. The preview screening I attend was outdoors and I watched pretty much the entirety of The Meg with typical British rain pouring down on me and my poor, flimsy poncho. I was one of the lucky ones though because there were a couple of Love Island stars floating in the lido’s pool whilst watching this and I’m sure those rafts rapidly filled up with rain water!
Anyhow, I think the fact that I still greatly enjoyed the film despite the horrendous weather is testament to how great this film is. It’s not going to win awards for amazing acting or the screenplay but it is a very entertaining film. And what more could you want from the latest giant shark thriller?
The Meg is released in UK cinemas on the 10th August 2018
*I was invited to a special preview screening of The Meg before the film’s release. However, I was under no obligation to review the film and all opinions are my own.