Guillermo Del Toro's original Pacific Rim knew exactly what it was: a modern day creature feature starring giant robots beating the living crap out of even bigger monsters. Everything the movie did, from the characters' backstories to the wacky scientists and even the burgeoning romance, was all there to serve a sole purpose: get us to the next massive monster bash. The entire exercise was big, silly and frequently confusing, but in the end it was all forgivable because Pacific Rim delivered the film it said it would. The sequel, by contrast, made the fatal error of having hardly any robot vs. monster fisticuffs, and – to put things bluntly – it sucked. Sadly, cinemas latest creature feature, The Meg, makes a similar mistake, proving about as big a disappointment as the shark you barely get to see.
The setup, as far as sharksploitation films go, is actually pretty solid. A deep sea research project named Mana One discovers the Mariana Trench is actually deeper than first thought, with a dense cloud of hydrogen-sulfide masking a deeper world that's remained untouched since the Jurassic period. It's here the scientists both discover and then accidentally release the proverbial Meg (short for Megalodon), setting the giant shark upon a course of murderous destruction as it explores the oceans above.
And wouldn't that have been great to watch! Sadly the film chooses to show rather than tell, mostly sending its cast to survey the aftermath of the Meg's mayhem rather than really showing the toothy beast in action. Much of the fault lies in decision to go for a family (and censor) friendly rating that strips the movie of almost all its gore. Truly, there's more bloody violence in a lamb ad then The Meg, robbing it of any sense of gruesome fun.
In the lead human role, action man and former professional diver Jason Statham plays a deep sea rescue expert reluctantly drawn back into the world that abandoned him after a deadly incident some years prior. He's grizzled, cynical and a heavy beer drinker, yet still somehow more ripped than a carcass after a shark attack – not that The Meg would show that kind of thing. Statham, like Dwayne Johnson, is a delight to watch on screen, at once committed to his performance yet unmistakably aware of how ridiculous this movie is. Even he, though, feels underutilised in this film, relegated to delivering bad cliches in even more derivative scenarios. His co-stars don't fare much better, with the likes of Ruby Rose, Rainn Wilson and Chinese superstar Li Bingbing all trudging their way through this cheesy affair.
In all, there's just not enough Meg in The Meg to justify the price of admission, let alone the title. It's not good enough to be a good film, but also not bad enough to be so bad it's good. Frankly, if it's schlock you're after, you'd be far better served by genuine B-movies like Sharknado.