September 5, 2018

Disgraced Navy Captain Seeks Redemption in Horror Film

SWIM FOR YOUR LIVES: The huge prehistoric shark called a megalodon, or Meg for short, is threatening the lives of people who are vacationing at a popular beach where people were enjoying themselves in the water.

By Kam Williams

Five years ago, Captain Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) managed to save half his crew when his research submarine was crippled by a massive 75-foot-long shark (a megalodon) that was thought to be extinct. Because the Navy brass were skeptical about the existence of a megalodon, Taylor was dishonorably discharged and lost his career, and his wife, because he wasn’t able to save more members of his crew.

Ever since, he disappeared from public view, and was rumored to be drinking heavily in Thailand. That’s where former colleague, Dr. Minway Zhang (Winston Chao), found him after the prehistoric creature attacked again, and left another submersible sitting on the floor of the Pacific Ocean.

Dr. Zhang convinces Taylor to sober up and try to redeem his reputation, since he’s the only person alive who has ever successfully completed such a dangerous, deep sea operation. “I don’t dive anymore,” Taylor declares, but changes his mind when he learns that his ex-wife, Lori (Jessica McNamee), is piloting the damaged vessel.

That is the point of departure of The Meg, a horror film that is adapted from a novel by Steve Alten. However, the movie is best described as a cross between Jaws (1975) and Jurassic Park (1993). The picture was directed by Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure), who walks a fine line between lifting ideas from, and paying homage to, those two classic Spielberg movies.

Scene after scene feels vaguely familiar, like the one where a pet dog named Pippin is swallowed by the monster. In Jaws, a dog named Pippet disappears while playing fetch with his owner. Another scene is when the Meg flies out of the water and lands on the boat hunting it. Where have I seen that before? You get the idea.

If you are willing to forgive such supposed tributes, or are too young to have seen the originals, the film does delivers a riveting roller coaster ride.

Excellent (***1⁄2). Rated PG-13 for action, peril, profanity and bloody images. Running time: 113 minutes. Production Studios: Warner Brothers Pictures/Gravity Pictures/Maeday Productions/Flagship Entertainment Group/Apelles Entertainment/Di Bonaventura Pictures. Distributor: Warner Brothers Pictures.