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Giant shark movie devours weekly box office

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Sometimes a movie comes along that should be better than it is.

That’s The Meg. While it’s okay, it could’ve been titanic.

ABOUT THE FILM

The buildup was great for the gargantuan shark movie.

The coming attraction was fun, and, let’s face it, thanks to Jaws, sharks are now the most fearsome critter in the sea.

(There are still people in their 50s and 60s who will not enter the ocean because of Jaws. [It’s also one of those movies that still stands up, even 43 years later.].)

You might not know it, but there have been a slew of shark movies released through the years.

Many have gone straight to video (or cable or streaming). Sometimes, however, a shark movie sees some mainstream success.

The best shark movie that isn’t Jaws (and don’t discount Jaws 2 either) is Deep Blue Sea (1999, Movie Man No. 298, 7.)

It has a great, out-of-nowhere sequence where – SPOILER! – Samuel L. Jackson gets eaten without any warning...and he’s not in the water.

Recently, a few other shark movies tried to find the audience that The Meg did.

(Prognosticators missed the box office boat on this one; it made nearly double at $44 million than what was predicted.)

In 2003, much hubbub arose for Open Water (MM #574, 3), but it was a classic film festival “winner” that was overrated.

In the last two years, a couple of other movies went the shark route.

In 2016, The Shallows arrived, and, despite solid reviews, it wasn’t a mammoth hit but was certainly a financial success, making $55 million in the U.S. on a $17 million budget.

(The Movie Man watched Independence Day: Resurgence [MM #1208, 5] that week. Sigh.)

Last year 47 Meters Down which was also a success – cost: $5.5 million, take: $44 million – but not to the extent that all had hoped.

Yes, there are some legitimate shark movies out to scare and thrill.

There there’s the goofy shark films – most of them – everything from the Sharknado series on TV to movies that didn’t have a biting chance.

You really like shark movies if you’ve seen (to name a few): The Jaws of Death (1976); Great White (1981); Red Water (2003); Spring Break Shark Attack (2005); Shark Swarm (2008); Swamp Shark (2011); Sand Sharks (2011); Ghost Shark (2013); and Snow Sharks (2014).

If you’re a real fan of shark movies, surely you’ve seen not only Two-Headed Shark Attack (2012), but its sequel, Three-Headed Shark Attack (2015) – and its sequel Five-Headed Shark Attack (2017, actually one head is on the shark’s booty).

So, shark movies are here to stay – including likely another Meg in a couple of years.

Actor Jason Statham and director Jon Turteltaub wanted to make a much gorier, R-rated movie, but the powers-that-be insisted on PG-13.

Maybe Meg vs. Seven-Headed Shark will be rolling out soon.

THE PLOT

Jonas (Statham) has to leave some colleagues behind while trying a deep water sub rescue.

Plagued by the incident, he becomes a beach bum. But his skills are sought after again when a sub gets trapped in the newly discovered deepest part of the ocean where a trio is trapped.

Reluctantly, he heads to the scientific facility built by billionaire Morris (Rainn Wilson).

The rescue briefly opens a warm water rift that allows a megalodon – a 70-foot long prehistoric shark – to escape

Freed from the cold layer of water that had it trapped, the meg begins feeding and attacking. It must be stopped before it reaches the a coastline with about a zillion people swimming.

WHAT WORKS

Statham does what he does – scowls, mutters one-liners under his breath, takes his shirt off, and handles what needs to be handled. He’s fun.

Wilson seems to know what kind of movie he’s in; as the billionaire, you know he’s going to bite the big one and end up in the shark’s jaws because – well, he’s rich. No way a rich guy is going to survive in today’s cinematic atmosphere.

The other kudos go to the special effects which are great, for the most part. It’s just too bad that so many of the coolest scenes were in the trailer.

That includes the visuals of the shark biting the scientific station and swimming under those hordes of swimmers near a coastline.

One cool shot not in the movie is the shark in a huge wave hunting a surfer.

BEST SCENE

Wilson’s demise is the kind of campy fun The Meg should’ve been.

He thinks he’s destroyed the monster by dropping depth charges and, sure enough, a giant creature floats to the surface.

Just when Wilson figures out it’s a whale, not the shark, he gets attacked – but miraculously doesn’t get eaten and begins climbing up the icky, blown-up whale.

But the meg isn’t going to let him off that easy...

WHAT DOESN’T WORK

The scares and thrills just aren’t here. And it could’ve been funnier, too.

These wonky summer scarefests need all that and The Meg does not have enough of either.

There’s some pretty bad acting here and a cloyingly multi-cultural cast that’s almost insulting.

THE RATING

It’s bloody and monster-y enough for the PG-13.

SUMMING UP

The Movie Man would’ve voted for the original R-rated version. This one’s paltry.

NEXT UP

Summer’s over so...?

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