Director Jon Turtletaub delivers a brainless rip-roaring fish tale featuring Jason Statham doing what he does best as he hunts a massive prehistoric CGI shark. It's not smart, but it never tries to be. It's just big-budget spectacle fun that proves to be an improvement over the literary series that spawned it. Whether or not this is your sort of fish story, Warner Bros. has delivered a 3D Blu-ray that makes full use of the format for the shark chomping spectacle. The 3D showcases fun and engaging foreground and background image depth. It's a shame Atmos wasn't included, but the DTS-HD MA 5.1 track works pretty well. Recommended for 3D junkies.
"I'm going to make this thing bleed."
Jason Statham is Jason Statham pretending to be Jonas Taylor - a disgraced former Navy rescue sub commander. Years ago, a rescue at the deepest depths of the Pacific in the Marianas trench went horribly wrong with several casualties. Jonas says it was a prehistoric sea creature that attacked them and blew up the sub before everyone could be rescued including two of his team members. The Navy says he cracked up under pressure. Now eccentric nerd billionaire Jack Morris (Rainn Wilson), Dr, Zhang (Winston Chao) and his daughter Suyin (Li Bingbing) are conducting experiments in the depths of the trench to prove that ancient prehistoric life is hidden under a thermal cloud. When a gigantic 75-foot Megalodon attacks the exploration team, Jonas is called back into action because his ex-wife is trapped thousands of feet below the surface. During the rescue attempt, Jonas and Suyin unwittingly allow the Meg to rise from the icy depths. The massive mindless eating machine becomes an unstoppable menace attacking and swallowing whole an entire cast of disposable characters.
The Meg is not smart - not even close. But I give it credit for being a whole lot more clever than the source novels by Steve Alten. This movie has been in development hell since the late 90s. The first novel was a huge hit and I devoured it quickly slamming through the pages while on vacation. As the sequel novels started churning out one after the other, the plots became daffy and ridiculous disposing of any genuine science and going full pulp science fiction. The first book would have been unwieldy to adapt on its own and take seriously, but the idea that this could be a series of films outside of the SyFy Channel seemed impossible. Thanks to the barrage of Megasharks, Giant Octopuses, annual Sharknados, and the box office bite shark flicks have been chomping the last couple of years, the time was right for The Meg to surface. And without staying completely true to the original novel, the movie sheds a lot of hokum baggage that was little better than soap opera dramatics.
This film only works because it knows exactly what it is - a fishy fleshy B-movie with a Megalodon-sized budget. You're not here to find Oscar-worthy performances. It's a full-on special effects buffet offering up plenty of impressive CGI creatures with some occasionally impressive practical effects work. I give Turteltaub and his team of writers full kudus for finding the pace of the film and never letting the energy dip for long. Character development is virtually non-existent. Any character conflicts are resolved within a matter of minutes. Seriously, Statham enjoys the most amicable and friendly relationship with his ex-wife in the history of legalized divorce. The Navy doctor that blackballed him and killed his career? It's resolved with a quick handshake. While for most movies this would be a problem, it works for The Meg because audiences paid good money to see Jason Statham fight a giant shark - and there is plenty of that to pass around. There's a love subplot and a cute kid, but that's just filler to give the effects crew time to work on the big set pieces.
It may sound like I'm jaded or cynical about this movie, and maybe I am a little bit, but I have to admit that I enjoyed the hell out of it. This was one of the best 3D theater-going movies, after Infinity War, that I saw all summer. Skyscraper was similar brainless 3D fodder, but The Meg really knew how to work the whole show offering plenty of nods and nudges to past shark movies while staking a claim all its own. It's big dumb spectacle fun. It never tries to be high art and it doesn't have to be to work.
The trailers are every indication of what to expect with this movie. If you're not enticed by what you saw in two and three-minute snippets, you're probably not going to love this one nearly half as much as you would have hoped. At first, I was only mildly entertained but after a couple more viewings I've had a lot more fun with it. The only real surprise for me was how Statham takes out the titular creature. It may be completely impossible and ridiculous, but trust me it works 100-times better than what was in the book. Since this flick bit out about half a billion bucks at the global box office, a sequel is apparently already in the works. If they add a little more blood and guts to the mix with a lot more wholesale carnage, they will already have a solid sequel. As it is, The Meg is easy disposable fun.
Vital Disc Stats: The 3D Blu-ray
The Meg rises from the deep on 3D Blu-ray courtesy of Warner Bros in a single disc BD-3D + Digital HD set. Yes, you read that right. The copy I ordered from Amazon was a single disc set, not a traditional 2-disc release with the standard Blu-ray. The disc is housed in a sturdy Blu-ray case and did not have a slipcover. The disc loads directly to a static image main menu with WB's standard navigation options.
The Meg enjoys the deep of 3D in this 1080p MVC 2.40:1 3D transfer. As a post-conversion effort, it's pretty darn good - there are many sequences throughout where 3D lends itself perfectly. The best use of 3D can be found in any of the tightly confined scenes like the opening rescue or any time someone is in a little submersible. The staging of these shots allows for a distinct foreground object to sit front and center while sides showcase depth back along the Z-axis. The more objects in a space - the better the effect renders. Even in the dark depths of the trench the explorations shots of the sub roaming around and the fish and tiny microorganisms floating around gives the image a great sense of three-dimensional depth. When big action set pieces like when the shark cage is being swallowed by the Meg, that's a great effect as well - similar to when the shark is chasing Statham as he's being towed as bait works really well as the shark emerges from the murky water.
Where the 3D suffers a bit is in the boring talky sequences where there just isn't a lot going on. Doing a quick glasses test you can see that there really isn't very much applied-depth or little if any difference to the standard 2D 1080p presentation. Details are just as strong and present as the standard 2D presentation with the same robust color pallet. Black levels are spot on with some deep inky blacks. All in all, I'm very happy with this 3D presentation. If you're still on the 3D bandwagon, you'll want to add this one to your collection.
The Meg 3D, sadly, doesn't sport the same Dolby Atmos audio mix as the standard 2D Blu-ray or 4K UHD disc, but, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix is no slouch where it counts! It's obviously not as active as the Atmos mix, but there is plenty of surround activity to make a go of it. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout without any issue. The sound effects are aggressive and pronounced offering plenty of imaging - especially when the action takes place underwater. The score by Harry Gregson-Williams keeps the energy going and punches up the LFE nicely. All around, there's nothing wrong with this 5.1 mix, but when comparing it to the Dolby Atmos iteration, you'll miss the greater immersion provided by the Atmos track's overhead, atmospheric elements.
The Meg is a SyFy channel shark movie with a gargantuan budget and plenty of Jason Statham badass snark to spark an aquatic giant shark franchise. Whether or not the rumored sequels arise, this first outing was a good way to burn a couple of disposable hours. Warner Bros. serves The Meg onto 3D Blu-ray with a 3D presentation that gives this shark flick a lot of visual punch. Unfortunately, my copy didn't include a standard 2D Blu-ray so it didn't contain any bonus features and it sports only a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix - which is still good but not nearly as impressive as the Atmos mix available in 2D and 4K. 3D Fans should have a great time with the visuals, but for what you get in this package, The Meg 3D is Recommended for 3D junkies, preferably if you can find it on sale.