I’m not one for intentially bad movies, but The Meg in 4DX is a treat needing only of a touch of tartar. It takes some time to get going beyond all of its dreadful SyFy “Movie of the [Shark] Week” dialogue, which, thankfully, only gets better/worse as the ship sails — intentional for the Meg-sized Chinese market. In fact, the flick’s many cringeworthy comms room exchanges should remind comic book fans of a Brian Michael Bendis’ David Mamet-style script; though far less clever or wordy, everyone has to get a word in.
To your own twisted pleasure, the ensemble performances come off more starfish than charmingly physical, courtesy of some expected — and oftentimes delightful — character tropes. In addition to the obvious Jason Statham as ocean rescue pimp Jonas Taylor as Jason Statham, we have Rainn Wilson‘s annoyingly foolish billionaire, Li Bingling‘s lonely single mom in search of herself and.. a hero, Masi Oka and Ólafur Darri Ólafsson‘s goofy/horny deep sea science stoners, Page Kennedy‘s blerd who can’t stop frantically whining that he can’t swim, Winston Chao‘s too wise for his own good scientist, Robert Taylor‘s random we-couldn’t-get-Harrison-Ford-to-play-this-doctor-so-we-have-this-guy, Jessica McNamee‘s tough hot ex-wife, and Cliff Curtis‘ Walking Dead dude because we need a Walking Dead dude (mind you, his Mac is arguably the most likeable one here).
One role that seemed somewhat fresh and new despite not having much to work with scriptwise is Aqua-Oracle herself, Ruby Rose‘s tatted up pre-Batwoman. Sophia Cai‘s innocent Pokémon-trekking Meiying has the film’s best quip and Statham retort, yet I’m sad that a joke whispered to my cousin during the film (“We’re gonna need a bigger bottle”) was funnier than the actual line said by the actor. We know who you’re paying homage to, Jon Turteltaub and company, there’s no reason to hide it — or have a script just that fucking unwitty. The Meg, both the film and the giant shark itself, pays technical homages to Jaws, however, from the monster’s methodical stalking to premeditated staredowns…
Yet, while much of that sounds like treading water, how poor the film sounds is only half the tale. The Meg is professionally executed. Beyond some CGI that is nothing “wow” on the scale of other experiences like Deadpool 2 and Ant-Man & The Wasp, action scenes are as intense as we imagined, and 4DX goers will catch great air condition intensity (see: wind) during the many helicopter scenes; while motion seating and water effects are surprisingly a little dry, adding only light sprinkles to your legs when someone leaves or enters the high seas. Funnier, a lot of water effects only happen in the first act when someone makes a splash or actually uses water for something. But once we enter the deep ocean in the valiant crew’s search for the whereabouts of the ruthless 75-foot megalodon, that’s when all our personal ships hit the coral reef! The 4DX effects spaz The Eff out–the theater even warns you beforehand that water intensity will be higher than usual. Sure, you won’t go home Sea World soaked, but getting wet and often is an element that surely ramps up the experience.
All in all, this Statham tentpole nearly drowns in its own steaming pile of shark bite cheese, but deems worthy of admission for the simple joy of seeing stupid people perish at the jaws of a prehistoric fish and the film’s insane, 3D lense condensated action coasting towards the film’s mega-final act. Why The Meg was not released 3 weeks ago during the actual Shark Week is baffling, but if you enjoy stupid stuff, go see it anyway.
Movie = 2.5/5; 4DX = 3.5/5
Overall = 3/5 Betty Crocker Shark Bites Fruit Flavored Snacks.