The Meg, a Paleontologist's Review
(Spoilers) I'm a big fan of Steve Alten's MEG book series. When I saw that they were making a movie on it I was actually excited because I knew it would expose the books to more people and that we would finally get a real, non-SyFy Channel Megalodon movie. Many book fans were nervous prior to release and disappointed after seeing the film, but I know Hollywood and so I fully knew that the movie would be a summer monster movie cash grab which I was personally okay with. After seeing The Meg, it pretty much lived up to my exact expectations. The book series provided a very basic foundation for the movie's plot which seemed to take action elements from all the books rather than the first one.
The negative stuff first. The characters were the "same" as the novel's in name only, but I would say the spirit of the book was present in the background. However, perhaps my biggest disappointment of the film is that the main character, Jonas Taylor, portrayed by Jason Statham's was not a Naval diver turned paleontologist which the character was in the books. Instead he just was a washed up deep see rescue diver, which kind of cheapened the motivation he had in the books to prove that the Meg was real. Would have been cool to see Jason Statham added to the list of movie paleontologists. I was also a little disappointed that the shark was not a nighttime hunting all-white white shark due to living in the dark deep as in the books, but I guess I wouldn't have wanted to see such a night focused dark movie. Overall, the movie's biggest weakness was its issue with tone, quickly oscillating between solemn and dire moments to jokes being cracked minutes after characters died. The ending climax where the meg attacked the beach was also rather underwhelming and 95% was given away in commercials and previews leaving no surprises. Also, the ending when dozens of sharks came in to feed on the slayed Meg out of literally nowhere was a little absurd too, but not the worst thing ever as far as sharks in movies go.
Now the positive. The film did have a major highlight which stands out from a paleontological perspective and that is the design of the shark itself. It was incredibly refreshing to see megalodon NOT portrayed as simply a scaled up great white shark. The Meg in the movie looked primal, savage, and prehistoric. Its blunt nose, extra gills, and green brown coloring was a great look for a creature we only know of from its giant serrated teeth. The acting was quality and there was some very enjoyable chemistry between various characters which bolstered the movie. The Meg also went out of its way to portray midern sharks rather psoitrvely, unlike many shark movies. There was a scene which talked about the horrors of shark finning, "all for a bowl of soup," and the ending I mentioned prior symbolically portrayed sharks as the proper stewards of the ocean. Overall, I actually quite enjoyed this movie and it's great to get more non-dinosaur paleontology on the big screen. I'd give The Meg a solid B- and would recommend it for a chill night in with some microwave popcorn.