About 20 years ago, I caught wind of a novel by Steve Alten that was right up my alley about a massive prehistoric era shark that made the Great White look like Dory from “Finding Nemo”. I sought out “MEG: A Novel of Deep Terror” and tore through it as enthusiastically as I had “Jurassic Park” in the early ‘90s with the same final thought: ”MAN, this would make a GREAT film.” With the announcement that Disney had bought the film rights along with hearing that Alten was hard at work on more books it what could be a series, I was extremely excited.
Then, the wait began
And it dragged on.
The property languished in development hell for what seemed like ages, so I began to have my doubts that this would ever see the light of day after films like “Deep Blue Sea” and “Sharknado” franchise did to any studio that would take a chance on the giant fish story I was SO anxious to see. After almost two solid decades, the film rights passed to Warner Bros., and pre-production began in earnest on the big screen adaptation now known simply as “The Meg”.
Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) has been wrestling with demons from his past ever since a failed attempt to save his crew during a rescue dive by a massive unseen force in a downed submarine. Now five years later, Jonas’ ex-wife Lori (Jessica McNamee) is now working at a deep sea research facility known as Mana One, led by Dr. Zhang Minway (Winston Chow) along with Minway’s daughter Suyin (Bingbing Li) and financed by the rather seedy billionaire Jack Morris (Rainn Wilson). As expected, things do NOT go well and Jonas is called upon to head this rescue operation, as he is one of the only individuals alive qualified to lead a rescue operation at such a depth, and what follows is a high stakes game of man versus beast as the crew battles to avoid being devoured by the largest predator the world has ever seen.
I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed this film, given how many liberties that were taken with the source material. In the book, Jonas is a highly knowledgeable paleo marine biologist, whereas Statham’s version is more of a macho rescue diver, there are several character name changes, the way the Meg manages to escape the icy depths, and the story’s climax has been completely reworked. In spite of all this, the film remains a very fun summertime ride that should simply be enjoyed for what it is. Just be prepared that if this film does well, there are SIX other books in the series currently waiting to make their own splash onto the screen as well.
And no (SPOILER ALERT) nobody tells the Meg to shut up!