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The O.D. on Movies

The O.D. on Movies: The Meg discussion

Outside of the local movie theater, rulerofowls (ROW) and movie snob Highbrowl, discuss the movie they just saw: The Meg, which was directed by Jon Turteltaub and stars Jason Statham, Bingbing Li, Rainn Wilson, Winston Chao, Cliff Curtis and Ruby Rose.

  • ROW: That was a fun time, wasn’t it?
  • H: It was a fun commercial for China, but other than that, I didn’t really like it.
  • ROW: Why not?
  • H: I think it did not ‘go for it’ as much as I would have liked! It felt too tame and too “serious” for a high-budget B-movie.
  • ROW: Do I need to remind you that the plot was basically good-looking people against HUGE PREHISTORIC FUCKING SHARKS? I don’t see anything serious about that plot, and it didn’t feel very serious to me either! I thought the movie definitely knew what it was and fully embraced it.
  • H: Why though? I mean, it was pretty clear that not a lot of thought was put behind the characters, the story and how those unfolded, but besides the last scene, there weren’t too many outrageous or “wild” scenes that played into the B-movieness of the movie!
  • ROW: Well, don’t forget that this is still a big-budget, summer blockbuster that is aimed at a lot more people, than your typical B-movie audience. Considering that though, I thought they actually did some good stuff with the more “serious” elements of the movie, and did enough crazy action scenes with one-liners and “cool-guy” moments, that it satisfied my thirst for a good B-movie.
  • H: I’m sorry, what “good stuff” did they do with their “serious” movie?!
  • ROW: I’m not saying this is a serious movie, but they had some interesting adjustments to standard tropes of other movies, that made the serious bits more bearable!
  • H: Like what?
  • ROW: For example, Statham’s character is another “protagonist who is wronged and mistreated by others; retreats from civilization and becomes a drunk; returns when they have a chance at vindication and because loved one/others are in danger and his expertise is needed” cliché. However, Statham needs to make a difficult choice in the beginning, which makes him more relatable and those who mistreat him now have a logical reason to do so…
  • H: Yeah, but…
  • ROW: Hold on let me finish! The movie does not execute this change perfectly, but it was something different and interesting to get us through the opening and into the B-movie portion of it, where it entertains us.
  • H: Yeah, but either way it’s not good character work; it’s not even adequate. I did not care about him at all, because despite their twists to the cliché formula, he still boils down to the ‘generic disaster movie protagonist’ stereotype in the end.
  • ROW: I won’t argue with that, and I won’t argue that any narrative aspects of the movie are especially good either; but, because it delivers on the fun, action part, those elements are not necessary! It’s what separates good enough movies like The Meg, from excellent ones like Mad Max: Fury Road and John Wick.
  • H: I don’t agree with that sentiment, but fine! Let’s say that the narrative elements are adequate; the action parts are not that good! The way the plot leads to them is nonsensical, the attempts at witty humor and one-liners don’t land, it is more inclined to be a commercial rather than a movie, and above all it doesn’t do action all that well; besides the last scene, everything else is stock standard shark movie stuff!
  • ROW: I’ll give you the nonsensical plot and the humor criticisms; I didn’t like that stuff either! But, the “commercial for China” critique is only for one scene and it is the set up for the best scene of the movie, so I didn’t mind it; the stock standard shark movie stuff is partly true-it is things we’ve seen before-but not with such high production values and good directing, and not with the added element of the HUGE PREHISTORIC SHARK! The action is different; there’s a lot of underwater vehicle stuff, animal v animal scenes, a lot of “improvised” solutions to life or death situations, which include a HUGE PREHISTORIC FUCKING SHARK. Are they as thrilling as the final scene? No! But it was fun and I enjoyed it until the final scene, which was awesome!
Our owl’s “artistic” representation of The Meg
  • H: But, is it worth going to the movies for? Even seeing it as a whole, the only interesting and truly worthwhile scene is the last one! I wouldn’t recommend an entire movie for one scene, maybe a rent after it leaves the theaters, but seeing a 113 minutes movie for A scene, in the theaters? No way!
  • ROW: If this was any other movie ‘genre’, I would agree with you! But, it’s been too long since a B-movie got this ‘high-budget, just make an entertaining movie’ treatment, and for how well it executes on the B-movieness of it, it’s not just one scene; it’s the whole movie’s vibe! Is it perfect? No! It could have been crazier, more entertaining, cheesier-no doubt about it! But, I still enjoyed what was there and I would recommend it to a group of owl-friends who want to see Jason Statham and co, battle a GIANT PREHISTORICK FUCKING SHARK! Don’t forget the other cool bits as well!
  • H: What cool bits?
  • ROW: The GIANT PREHISTORIC FUCKING SQUID, the moments the crew is chased by the shark and the moments they are confronting it! *Editor’s note: These were specific references to scenes in the movie and were removed to keep the conversation spoiler-free*
  • H: But those moments are not that great! The movie still follows a lot of the tropes and clichés of the genre, without adding anything of value and without giving proper entertainment. For me it comes down to “dumb, summer blockbuster fun” and I did not think it offered that quantity or quality-wise consistently enough. I would much rather watch Mission Impossible later this month to get more and better thrills out of that.
  • ROW: It’s not a contest though! You can watch both of these movies and enjoy them both for what they are! MI is about Tom Cruise having a death wish and The Meg is about Jason Statham going against a BIG PREHISTORIC FUCKING SHARK! As far as B-movies that I wished would get made by a big studio, The Meg is right up there with the 3rd Machete movie, and it did not deliver completely, but it was close enough and I’m okay with that!
  • H: And I guess I’m not! Let’s end this conversation here before you start going on about Machete kills again in space, because I’m not sure I can handle that conversation again!

 

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