This still released by Apelles Entertainment, Di Bonavntura Pictures and Flagship Entertainment Group shows Shuya Sophia Cai in “The Meg.” (Photo courtesy Apelles Entertainment, Di Bonavntura Pictures and Flagship Entertainment Group)

This still released by Apelles Entertainment, Di Bonavntura Pictures and Flagship Entertainment Group shows Shuya Sophia Cai in “The Meg.” (Photo courtesy Apelles Entertainment, Di Bonavntura Pictures and Flagship Entertainment Group)

In the spirit of B-movies, ‘The Meg’ is simple entertainment

  • Wednesday, August 15, 2018 11:57pm
  • LifeArts

“The Meg”

I’ve done a lot of thinking about B-movies lately, and how much of what makes a bad movie good is actually bad. When I say B-movies, I’m talking specifically about low-rent genre films, in this case creature features, that come along and seem to have nothing to offer but an entertaining hour-and-a-half at the movies.

I’m not talking prestige monster pics like the $200 million “Godzilla” or even serious essays on man vs. nature like “The Grey.” I’m talking “The Blob.” I’m talking “Piranha.” I’m talking “Kingdom of the Spiders” with a webbed up William Shatner crying to the heavens as if he thought Scotty could beam him up out of this nightmare. Seriously, if you haven’t seen that poster, look it up. These are the kind of movies that are made on the cheap, usually, and feature a second-tier cast struggling with third-tier dialogue. What these movies want is to offer silly chills and thrills with no real requirement of the viewer. They wear their earnest escapist hearts on their sleeves and it’s hard not to love them for it. “The Meg” is the latest entry into this proud tradition.

“The Meg” follows action star Jason Statham as Jonas Taylor, deep-sea rescue diver whose experience with a mysterious creature at the far depths of the ocean has left him jaded and scarred. When he is approached by representatives of a billion-dollar underwater research facility to deal with an emergency at the bottom of the Marianas Trench, his first answer is an absolute no. That is, until he finds out that it’s his ex-wife trapped in a disabled submersible, having been attacked by what may be the very same creature that ruined his career. The opening act of the film is thrilling, and probably not a spoiler to say that Jonas comes out alive. But what did he bring back from the bottom of the sea? The largest shark anyone has ever seen. A Meg – or Carchardon Megalodon, if you want to be specific. Thought to be extinct for 2 million years, actually lying in wait in a hidden pocket of ocean, the Meg is a shark larger than a whale, one that makes Jaws look like a goldfish.

One of the joys of a movie like this is the act of shouting at the characters on screen. Of course, I mean that metaphorically. If you’re seeing this in a crowded theatre, keep your shouts for one of the several times the shark leaps straight at you out of the sea. But, I kept thinking, haven’t any of these people seen “Jaws?!” “Don’t pretend to put your head in a dead shark’s mouth!” “Don’t swim after it!” “Don’t try and catch it with the giant crane on your ship!” Of course, that’s why it’s fun. Because we like to believe we’re smarter than the people on screen, even though we’re probably not.

“The Meg” has its problems, sure. The acting is fine, but the dialogue is pretty bad. And the film struggles with a few stereotypical tropes that, though par for the course for a film like this, are probably left in the past. The “scared black man” who can’t swim is straight out of the 1970s and does this film no favors. That said, there’s one aspect of this movie that is getting all kinds of criticism from the online fans – the rating. “The Meg” is rated PG-13, and it fits solidly in that genre. Sure, there’s some blood — how could you have a giant shark movie without it? But most of the deaths are either off-screen or quick, and as a result, you have a movie that’s closer in tone to “Jurassic Park” than to the kind of horror movie that some were expecting. But, honestly, what really good movie in this vein is rated R? I can think of one, “The Ghost and the Darkness,” but that’s almost not a B-movie at all. “Snakes on a Plane,” is rated R, but it’s awful – and not in a good way. Even “Jaws” is rated PG.

Limitations force filmmakers to think creatively, and the result is usually a better movie. Think about “Star Wars.” When George Lucas had to figure out how to tell his story without a massive budget and computer generated effects, you end up with a classic. I don’t need to mention what happened when he was able to make a “Star Wars” film without constraints. “The Meg” is appropriately scary, but not so disturbing that you feel nauseous having sat through it. After all, these movies are meant to leave you with nothing but a smile, and “The Meg” accomplishes that.

Grade: B+

“The Meg” is rated PG-13 for scary shark violence and some language.

Chris Jenness is an art teacher and movie buff who lives in Nikiski.

More in Life

Gochujang dressing spices up tofu, lettuce, veggies and sprouts. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Healthy life starts with healthy food

Gochujang salad dressing turns veggies and tofu into an exciting meal

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)
Life in the Pedestrian Lane: Spring Fever

“OK, Boomer” is supposed to be the current put down by the “woke generation”

A headstone for J.E. Hill is photographhed in Anchorage, Alaska. (
Night falls on the Daylight Kid — Part 2

“Bob,” he said, “that crazy fool is shooting at us.”

Minister’s Message: Has spring sprung in your life?

Christ also offers us an eternal springtime of love, hope and life

Eggs Benedict are served with hollandaise on a bed of arugula and prosciutto. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Honoring motherhood, in joy and in sorrow

Many who have suffered this loss believe they must bear it in silence for the sake of propriety

Page from Seward daily gateway. (Alaska State Library, Archives and Museum, Juneau, A.K.)
Night falls on the Daylight Kid — Part 1

Night Falls on the Daylight Kid—Part One By Clark Fair

Meredith Harber (courtesy)
Minister’s Message: Spread love in these challenging times

I don’t know about you all, but the world feels pretty rough these days

Photos by Sean McDermott 
Artist Amber Webb starts works on a new drawing at Bunnell Street Arts Center. Her work will be on display at the gallery through the month of May.
Where the waters mixed

Artist uses art to explore the blurred boundaries between sorrow and celebration, hardship and healing

A copy of “Firefighting: the Financial Crisis and Its Lessons” rests against a typewriter on Wednesday, May 4, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Off the Shelf: An economy on fire

“Firefighting: The Financial Crisis and Its Lessons” gives a retrospective on the 2008 financial crisis

Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion
Prints are featured in the “Open Watercolor” show at the Kenai Art Center on Wednesday.
Playing with paint

Art center’s new exhibit displays the versatility of watercolors

Kalbi ribs can be served with an assortment of side dishes, including white rice, kimchi, roasted garlic cloves, broccoli salad, dumplings and soup. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Marking 1 year with a festive feast

Kalbi marinade makes ribs that taste like a party

Will Morrow (courtesy)
Moving on

I suggested to my wife that we could replace the old kids’ car with something “fun”