H.L. Mencken, a cranky newsman, wrote something like this 92 years ago today. And he didn’t even get a chance to see “The Meg,” the top-selling movie the weekend before last and the second-best seller in the weekend just ended.
Let’s talk about this mess.
The story is an action-packed tale about scientists chasing a giant shark to save mankind. Their prey, a megalodon, aka meg, has been extinct for 2.5 million years. Except maybe it hasn’t.
(Megalodons compare to filmdom’s previously dreaded great white sharks as a petroleum tanker truck compares to a motorcycle.)
After two deep-water rescues, a research team and a studly superhero discover that a meg has escaped its millions-year hideout underneath the floor of the Marianas Trench, seven miles beneath the Pacific Ocean. When the meg surfaces it is not blinded by light after millions of years in total dark, and it has suffered no decompression on its way to the surface. The meg is only hungry.
Its first prey — yay, Greenpeace — is a boat of poachers collecting shark fins for an Asian specialty dish. The perhaps naive hero team takes its own, same-sized boat out to inspect the pieces of the other boat floating on the water. A brave scientist goes down in a heavy plastic shark cage, ready to confront the meg, but of course does not succeed.
As is traditional in such stories, the challenges get greater and greater and greater. Lesser characters die nobly while the stars of the movie endure. You can guess at the ending.
The star, Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham), is a British version of Dwayne Johnson and a popular veteran of many action films. His character has spent the last five years nursing regrets and many beers on a beach in Thailand, but these have not diminished his buff torso or willingness to jump into the ocean in a wetsuit with a spear gun and without diving fins to do battle with a ginormous foe.
Other characters include a despicable billionaire (but I repeat myself) who has funded the research team; the team’s noble Chinese director, his comely and brave daughter, and her darling eight-year-old child); an intrepid submarine pilot who is Taylor’s ex-wife; plus two diverse crews of serious/wacky/angry/noble men, each with a two-dimensional personality.
If this is the sort of movie you like, you probably have seen it. Let me know what you think.
Next: “Jaws” and What Followed