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The Meg: "Jaws" On Steroids!

" The best threat to audience is the one they least expect while watching a film"

Alfred Hitchcock

I was exactly seven years old when i first watched "Jaws" on TV. For the first time i thought that fishes cant be man eaters as we eat them all the time....hahah

This post is a film review of "The Meg" and views on the genre of undersea horror films. The film is based on the 1997 book "Meg: A Novel Of Deep Terror" by Steve Alten



WHY AN UNDERWATER ADVENTURE ?


"The Meg" is a joint production of a Chinese studio and Warner Bros. Now why will anyone in the age of superheroes and established franchises bet such a massive budget ($175 Million) on a story around a killer fish. Well, the success of films like "Jaws Franchise", "Deep Blue Sea", "The Shallows", "Finding Nemo", "Piranha" have cemented the fact that when you turn around the food chain, audience love it for the sheer thrill of it. In short, the hunted becomes the hunter. The following reasons are good enough to delve into this genre:-


1. The sea is non human territory so it gives the director a creative canvas to put its lead actor in a confusing and unpredictable situation.


2. The genre also gives a relatively unpopulated setting to the conflict. As in the fight between the hero and the villain happens in an isolated environment which gives audience to be more intimate with the lead characters


3. The genre's content is also looked upon as the "levelling" of the human species with the other beings. Humans are looked upon as the exploiters and consumers of the undersea inhabitants, so in a way the films give them a chance to " get back" at the humans.


4. The sea also gives its makers and audience a feeling of being sucked into deep space. A world with endless possibilities. But it also gives reason to have a large budget. There are very rare undersea adventures with less budgets. These films are meant to made big!


"THE MEG" and its plot :-


The Meg is a short form of The Megaladon, an extinct species of a Shark. History documents that the The Meg was 80 feet in length and was large enough to chew a full human like a chewing gum. The film is entered around her. The story is set in China Sea where a US billionaire has funded a deep sea exploration site to dig the earth's surface to look for supernatural species which is called MANA ONE. MANA ONE is possibly the most state of the art undersea exploration centre ever built in movies. The film also uses the centre as an important part of story telling. Its equipped with the best undersea boats, tactical weapons and the most amazing deep sea crew on the planet. In the beginning a crew is sent deep under the seabed to look for new creatures when they are attacked by The Megaladon. And they are stuck with no hope. It is here that the team calls on Jonas Taylor (played by Jason Statham) who is one of the world's most prolific divers who have gone below 10,000 feet to perform rescue operations. He successfully rescues the team but in the process unleashes The Meg on to the surface. The rest of the story is the battle between Jonas, his Chinese and American teammates and the The Megaladon.

Building the Aura around The MEG :-



The filmmakers team helmed by veteran Jon Turteltaub ( "National Treasure") left no stone unturned while building the giant fish in the special effects lab. When ever The Meg passes by a character in the film, it looks more like a space ship towering over them and making it look too big to handle. Her speed and agility is on display in every frame she resurfaces. She is a formidable rival to Jonas and his team. In fact, The Meg makes her intentions very clear when she chews on a Chinese technician without any effort. In the scene where a little girl who is the daughter of Suyin (Li Bingbing) , the co owner of the station confronts The Meg, the giant fish just gives the little girl a 2 second look and then tries to bite the glass tunnel in which she is standing. In this scene the terror is unleashed in full flow on the cast.


The efforts put in to bring realism in a fantasy tale have been extraordinary. There are numerous scenes in which The Meg attacks a beach full of people looks almost real. To me, it reminded of Amity Island from "Jaws".


Every time the Shark attacks its victim, you see her clear cut ruthlessness and speed. She attacks them using her giant size and strength. In the climax between her and Jonas, you feel her sheer presence on the big screen.


The MANA ONE sea station is the centre piece of the production design of the film. It adds aura, grace and stature to the setting of the film. I mean a battle between a giant shark and man in the middle of the sea has to look real and believable and MANA ONE gives the viewer that spectacle to feel its authenticity.



Film Parallels :-


The Meg can be easily classified in the league of many sci fi genre classics like "Aliens" franchise, "Predator", "Jaws", "Deep Blue Sea"and more. The whole idea of a team of experts up against an Extra-Terrestrial force with unlimited powers. The film reminds us of science fiction thrillers in space and the emotional struggle of the protagonist while in a duel with a force which is many times powerful than him/her.



Jason Statham and his A-Ha moment :-


Statham has worked his way up from oblivion to global action star status with years and years of prolific work. But unfortunately he has been confined to low budget Europa Group pictures like "The Transporter", a few Guy Ritchie films and an adorable part in "The Expendables". In The Meg, Statham Stars in his maiden solo $150 Million plus flick. This film should propel Statham as the de facto action king as all his peers have now aged and can't do the insane stunts which he pulls off. In this film , the makers have taken full use of Statham's acrobats, mannerisms, acting (he's almost there) and his star power. People who love Statham will love this film. But his acting skills are not top rate, so you will not root for him like you rooted for Ellen Ripley in "Aliens".



Final Verdict:


THE MEG is a definite watch for the whole family. It is a unique film which puts into perspective the much ignored species of our planet. This film should be on your watch list for sure.



Baniya Meter :-


The Baniya Meter gives "The Meg" a 7 out of 10 for its outstanding storytelling effort.

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