Review of The Meg (2018)

Moving picture, 113 minutes

Seen in 2020.

There’s a marine research station 300 km away from Hong Kong, by the deepest part of the Mariana Trench, which is almost ten times as far away from Hong Kong. The station has been built standing on the ocean floor above the trench at an astronomic cost, to test the hypothesis that the apparent floor of the trench is a layer of gas. Underneath is a completely separate ecology so large that it supports viable populations of giant squid and megalodons.

Walking the tightrope between a nanar and a successful, overly long $130M CGI blockbuster spectacle, which explains the brief cuts of Crazy Rich Asians-style glamour. This particular walk does not produce a moment of suspense. Like “Riding the Ocean Dragon” (2017), it fits nicely into a Chinese geopolitical plan.

Thankfully, the corporate machinery counteracts some of the worst impulses of the writers, but this process leaves some mysteries. When I wasn’t laughing at the plot holes I was wondering why they even bothered with the deep-sea trench idea. It’s obvious that the sharks are not adapted to that depth: They have the appearance and eyesight of actual megalodons, and their metabolism is, if anything, faster than the real animal’s. The writers certainly didn’t remain faithful to the notion of the thermoclinal ecological barrier; the shark that eats the nuclear submarine in the prologue got out years before that barrier was breached and was never caught.

Depth-adapted giant sharks terrorizing a station on the bottom would have been more fun, and a hypertechnological portal to the Miocene would have been more compatible with the blockbuster aesthetic. I wonder if it was intended as some sort of tribute to James Cameron or a callback to Jurassic Park (1993), rather than a sincere adaptation of the book.

moving picture fiction