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'The Meg': A shark movie that needs more thrills

News Desk

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Fri, August 10, 2018  /  05:30 pm

The Meg is a story about man versus nature, and how it takes everything that makes us human to take on a creature that thrived long before humans came into existence. The creature, to be precise, is the megalodon, a now-extinct prehistoric predator that paleontologists say measured 5 to 18 meters in length. In the film, the massive shark is very much still alive.

Rescue diver Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham), a man who has lived with a guilt-ridden past ever since he left his friends behind after their submarine was attacked by a mysterious predator, has to relive his past when a China-based underwater research lab discovers a deeper part of the sea and gets attacked by the same predator.

The visual effects are breathtaking right from the start, with whales, fish and living creatures in the deepest parts of the ocean. When the megalodon, a gigantic shark, makes its appearance, we can tell that it has gone through challenges based off the scars on its fins, marks on its skin and the way it feeds on its prey. In one intense scene, an 8-year-old girl in a submarine picks up her toy as the beast creeps up behind her and bites the submarine glass, showing its might.

Meanwhile, Taylor's character is what is needed in a movie like The Meg, as his acting, characterization and stunts are constantly intriguing. There is depth in his character, with Taylor faced with overcoming his fears and guilt, using them as motivation to save others.

Read also: 'Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom' contemplates fall of dinosaurs

Other than Taylor though, there is really no one else worthy to take note of. Everyone else appears flat, and it is clear from the get-go who the victims of "the meg" will be. Toshi, a scientist played by Masi Oka, is a clear example of this, as we do not get a clear understanding of his character.

This is made even more disappointing because, given that the setting is in China, one would expect more Asian crew members out on the field. In total, there are only two supporting Asian characters.

Director Jon Turteltaub brought in similar elements from his previous film, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, blending humor with seriousness while exploring history. However, it is exactly this mixture of comedy and drama that makes the movie seem like it is unaware of exactly what genre it wants to convey.

In retrospect, the writing is the weakest part of the film. It follows the basic formula of a shark movie: find, track and kill, but without any meaty narrative. As such, every jump-scare and plot twist is predictable. As thrilling as the movie's trailer is, it is regrettably nothing more than a false brochure. (saz/wng)