A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Meg is an action movie about a giant prehistoric shark and the team of heroes (led by Jason Statham) trying to stop it. Violence is definitely the biggest issue here: Many characters die, and there's some blood (wounds, blood swirling in the water). And of course, there are shark attacks (often sudden/startling) -- plus lots of explosions and tons of destruction and carnage. Many dead, mangled sharks and other sea creatures are shown, a woman is accidentally stabbed with a screwdriver, and a young girl is briefly in peril. Language is infrequent but includes "s--t," "son of a bitch," "bastard," and others. Statham's character, Jonas, appears shirtless, and there's a bit of flirting. He's also accused of drinking too much and is shown holding or opening bottles of beer early in the movie. Some nonwhite characters are portrayed somewhat cartoonishly. Shark fans are likely to be interested, but be warned: It's clumsy and slow and lacks genuine scares.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In THE MEG, wealthy investor Jack Morris (Rainn Wilson) travels to China to see his new research station, where scientists are trying to reach a new level of the ocean floor that's hidden by a layer of frozen gas. They break through, but before they can investigate further, they're attacked by an enormous megalodon, a prehistoric shark thought to be extinct. With three of the group trapped on the ocean floor, controversial but effective expert Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) is called in to rescue them. Unfortunately, during the extraction, the "meg" manages to escape to the surface, leaving it up to Jonas, shark expert Suyin (Bingbing Li), and the rest of the team to stop it before it reaches more populated areas.
Is it any good?
Despite the enticing promise of Statham vs. a giant shark, this action movie lamely steals just about every shark-movie conceit ever invented, while draining the suspense, terror, and fun out of them. The Meg starts well enough with its clever scientific discovery, which could have been explored a little further, but director Jon Turteltaub proceeds to barrel right past it with instant and relentless attacks that feel more like bludgeons than thrills. Shark fans will already know all the moves in this one -- quite a few of them taken straight from Jaws -- and the movie fails to conjure up anything even remotely like a surprise or a scare.
The action sequences are, if not exactly terrible, certainly clunky, with plenty of largely meaningless, largely bloodless slaughter that doesn't have much impact. And of course, the movie drags on way too long. Via a prologue, a half-hearted attempt is made to add some depth to Statham's character, specifically a rescue mission in which his decision resulted in two deaths (leading to lots of guilt for him afterward), but this rarely seems to give him any pause during the movie's present-day action. And while The Meg assembles a multicultural cast, with a couple of exceptions, not many of them are terribly nuanced (some even border on stereotypical) or have much to do. Sadly, not even the shark is very interesting.
Talk to your kids about ...
What's the appeal of sharks in movies and on TV? Do you think they're portrayed accurately/fairly?
Did you notice any stereotypes in the movie? Where is the line between cartoonish behavior and offensive portrayals?
Jonas' decision to let two co-workers die to save several other people haunts him. Did you ever have to make a difficult decision that involved choosing a bad thing over a much worse thing?
- In theaters: August 10, 2018
- On DVD or streaming: November 12, 2018
- Cast: Jason Statham, Rainn Wilson, Bingbing Li
- Director: Jon Turteltaub
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Ocean Creatures
- Run time: 113 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: action/peril, bloody images and some language
- Last updated: September 26, 2019
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