The Meg (2018)

Wow! Its been quite a while since I went to go see a movie at the theatres. The last one was probably Ocean’s Eight. I mean, aside from Fantasia where I’m still in a semi-break from movies but I love shark films and Jason Statham and The Meg has been one of those films that I’ve been anticipated the moment I knew of its existence so it was a opening weekend must-see for myself. Its taken a little bit to get this review up but better late than never. To be clear, I haven’t read the novel that this movie is based on so this is completely on how I felt about the movie and nothing related to how well the adaptation works.

Let’s check it out!

The Meg (2018)

the meg

Director: Jon Turteltaub

Cast: Jason Statham, Bingbing Li, Rainn Wilson, Cliff Curtis, Winston Chao, Shuya Sophia Cai, Ruby Rose, Page Kennedy, Robert Taylor, Olafur Darri Olafsson, Jessica McNamee

After escaping an attack by what he claims was a 70-foot shark, Jonas Taylor must confront his fears to save those trapped in a sunken submersible. – IMDB

Being a fan of shark films and Jason Statham, The Meg was one anticipated movie that truly delivered on all my expectations. Its refreshing to be able to say that. Shark films have a special place in my heart and the best comparison that I have for The Meg is something like Deep Blue Sea, which happens to be one of my favorite shark films ever. Featuring a 70 foot Megalodon as its star predator is a tough feat and director Jon Turteltaub does a great job at making sure that it holds the suspense and builds on using the underwater sequences to create the thrills with the unexpected. Sure, there are some parts here because of the Chinese collaboration that makes it build the story with some filler drama and romance that feels unnecessary but the cast here delivers on this simple script. Let’s face it, this is a shark movie and not some award-winning film. Its a popcorn flick meant to be entertaining and it does exactly that. There is some suspension of belief and some far-fetched ideas that they try hard to give us the justifications in the story which mostly works, but the thrills of the Meg is in some of the parallels and nods it gives to the ultimate shark movie, Jaws. For some, that might be issues because this isn’t quite the Spielberg masterpiece but for myself, it never was meant to be that so I appreciated it for being exactly what it was.

The Meg

Looking at the cast, Jason Statham also does a great job at being the leading man. He still is equipped with his one liners and his hardcore tough guy act. It works for him and its what I love about the movies he is in. For that, he fits well into his role as Jonas. His sequences against the shark adds in those comedic touches before heading into the intense sequences against a prehistoric shark. Even tough guys get scared, they just mask it with some humor and it works so well for him. Its not often we see Jason Statham with a lot of romance in his films but as odd and misplaced as this one feels between him and the character played by Bingbing Li, there are some bonding moments here that also work out. It helps that Bingbing Li is not only a pretty face but also a talented actress. However, nothing quite steals the show like the little girl playing the daughter by Shuya Sophia Cai who is not the typical whiny and annoying little girl but one that is smart and knows her stuff around. She’s charming and cute and intelligent and some of the best moments are actually between her and Jason Statham.

The Meg

Aside from these main players, there are a ton of familiar faces here. Playing the sponsor of the research facility is Rainn Wilson who plays this billionaire who goes to visit and has his mind on all the wrong things at times but does add a nice twist of giving the normal do everything to make this work character have a twist. While he isn’t straight and narrow and still makes some dumb decision in the end, it takes on another tangent. On the other hand, a lot of people aren’t a big fan of Ruby Rose but I’ve liked her style since  her role in Orange is the New Black. As one note and as much as she is put in similar roles, I like the addition of that type of character. However, in this one, you end up losing count how many times she draws the short straw and ends up falling into the water.

The Meg

As predictable as The Meg is and as forced as the romance here, The Meg knows what it is and it delivers exactly as expected. A 70 foot shark is a huge presence literally and Jon Turteltaub is masterful as making it scarce and taking his time to reveal this beast completely. There are incredible lighting and cinematography underwater that makes it all work so well. I probably should have mentioned this but I forked out the big bucks (because it was the only way my theatre was showing it) and saw it UltraAVX and 3D. Let me tell you, a lot of parts got me jumping in my seat and genuinely tense. It may be my love for shark films and just how thrilling these films can be but The Meg is a fun popcorn flick. There are some solid moments that are fairly unique to watch. Plus, it achieves a level of making the megalodon be scarce to build up the tense moments and it works out a lot of time. Running a fairly tight run time, it is pretty well-paced. Sure there are some filler material but it never lingers long enough to make it completely in the way of the real purpose we’re there: to see a prehistoric shark. Its a shark film, you’re either on board or you aren’t. Maybe its a simple way to put it but popcorn movies don’t need depth, it needs entertainment and I was thoroughly thrilled and entertained. I get the criticism and I have some of my own as you see, but its still a solid shark film.

I only wish that it does well enough to get a franchise going because I can’t wait to see Jason Statham get back into going against some more prehistoric underwater creatures. Now, that would be so awesome!

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Fantasia Fest 2015: Cooties (2014) & Point of View (Short 2015)

Its really early in the Fantasia Festival to be feeling a little overwhelmed but after the showing of Cooties on Friday, I needed one because the late showing turned my schedule around and then the weekend was slightly crazy. Weekly Adventures coming up to explain that bit in more detail.  After a weekend of crazy, other than this one, I have two more Fantasia reviews to go up this week.  Thank goodness, the second week of Fantasia is a lot less hectic so I can catch my breath and get these reviews up.

Before Cooties started, we had a short film called Point of View open.

Point of View (Short 2015)

Point of View

Point of View

Its directed by Justin Harding who was present to introduce it a little. Running at 8 minutes long, its about “A tired coroner is stalked by the living dead — but only when she isn’t looking!” (Fantasia site).  Let me tell you: this short is awesome! The best way to start a movie like Cooties.  With an equally funny movie that had some little nerve-wrecking moments but all in 8 minutes that passed by faster than I ever imagined.

Cooties (2014)

Canadian Premiere

Cooties

Director: Jonathan Milott, Cary Murnion

Cast: Elijah Wood, Alison Pill, Rainn Wilson, Jack McBrayer, Leigh Whannell, Nasim Pedrad, Ian Brennan, Jorge Garcia, Cooper Roth, Morgan Lily, Armani Jackson, Sunny May Allison

Clint (Elijah Wood) heads back home to Fort Chicken to hopefully work on his novel and gets employed as a substitute at the high school he used to go to when he was younger. There he meets a girl, Lucy (Alison Pill) that he used to go to high school with.  Lucy is dating the angry and awkward gym teacher, Wade (Rainn Wilson).  When contaminated chicken nuggets are sent to the school and a little girl called Shelly eats it, the virus spreads among the young kids and turns them into raging, flesh eating living dead.  As the school day progresses, the group of teachers and faculty that are struggling to survive try to find a way to escape the school.

cooties

You know how Shaun of the Dead was this really great horror comedy? Cooties is very much along the same lines except with a sillier sort of humor because its more Americanized? Its not meant to be offensive (in case you feel that way). Its just that British humor is in a league of its own. I always say this when I look at comedies: its totally subjective. While I’m not a huge fan of American stupid humor and there was a bit of it here, for the most part Cooties had a lot of effective laughs while being completely and equally effective at creating gory and tense situations. Even in horror comedies, kids being the ones infected or just in the scary side is incredibly creepy. There were really intense parts in Cooties, especially one of the kids who was just raging maniatic. The premise here and even the logic behind it is pretty great. Cooties essentially means that its a virus only in kids.  Plus, it even has some hidden messages about the education system…maybe I’m overthinking this but there’s one bit that made me feel like it was really poking fun at this new thing in school.  I don’t want to spoil it so I’m going to keep it vague. Point being, it works and does it in a really smart way.

Cooties

The next aspect I would like to talk about is the characters. We have a mixed bag with the teachers.  Our main character is Clint who is really the not so confident and not really a leader who kind of gets forced into the situation.  Wade is the weirdo angry gym teacher who has all the dumb lines but who actually is hilarious especially when they start running the movie references and all that stuff.  Alison Pill is the preppy teacher who isn’t really all that positive so we get a first taste of her layered characters.  Actually, all these characters have that.  In the more secondary role (and my favorite character) was the science teacher, Doug played by Leigh Whannell (also co-writer of the movie) who pulls the best hilarious lines.  I think almost everyone laughed whenever he said any of his lines because they were absurd and just so inappropriate most of the time, especially since he played the socially awkward dude and Leigh Whannell does it so well! As the movie progresses, even the secondary characters all collectively add to the awesome fun comedy that adds in a good level of tension.

Cooties

Overall, Cooties is a downright awesome horror comedy with just the right amount of comedy to satisfy your taste and very well balanced in the tense horror zombie movie its supposed to be.  With a fantastic cast that has script which gives us a variety of different characters that help create a balance that works effectively, it keeps the movie constantly entertaining. The premise of using kids (and having cooties) to be an actual virus that turns them into zombies is absolutely great.  The whole idea of it was simple but well illustrated during the movie as we learned more about this virus and just how it had spread.  Cooties ends with a bang and leaves it wide open for a sequel and you know what, if the same crew sat down to write the sequel, count me excited! You can bet that this one is going right into my movie collection when it comes out 🙂 Its really good and I totally think you should give it a shot!

Seeing as this is a Canadian premiere, I’m thinking its opened elsewhere.  Have you seen Cooties? What do you think of it? Are you a fan of horror comedies?