I do not (not not not not not!) believe in giving reviews that are actually just plot summaries. There will be no spoilers here.
Okay, now that’s out of the way…
This is my review of the FILM The MEG, (very) roughly based on Steve Alten’s book of the same name, which just opened in theaters yesterday.
My wife and I went to see the film tonight. I have to say, while I enjoyed it, it wasn’t fantastic. I give it a solid 4-stars.
I’ll start with the good. Praise is always so much better.
First, let me preface with the fact that I always make it my policy to do my best to completely ignore the book when I see a movie based on one. Much less disappointment that way. In this case, that was an exceptionally wise decision, as there is very little of the book in this film.
Now, I know the goal of an adaptation is never to make a carbon copy of the book. We wouldn’t like it even if they did, as it will never live up to the book. Even if they spent an hour of screen time for every 50 pages (making for CRAZY long movies), we’d still all come away saying “the book was better, so why didn’t they do something different with it?”
To get things started, let’s talk actors. Even before I found out about the movie, Jason Statham is almost exactly what I always imagined in Jonas Taylor when reading the books, so obviously that’s spot on. I’ll admit to wishing he had toned down his accent just a bit (we know he can do that, as he’s done it before), but otherwise he’s perfect for the part.
Jessica did a superb job as Lori Taylor, and physically she was a perfect match (not to mention being a WAY more likable character than she was in the book).
Really, if I’m being honest (and why not?), all the actors did great jobs here. There were a few points where the dialogue maybe could have been better, but I think they nailed exactly the feel they were going for. They wanted it to be fun. They wanted some well-placed humor to break up the tension. And it worked beautifully.
On a final note concerning actors, I have to say I felt a rather irrational squee when I saw Masi Oka. I didn’t realize he was in the film, and I’ve been a fan since Heroes back in 2006.
Other than a couple of minor blips, the special effects were phenomenal. The sharks all looked fantastic, from the MEG itself to the various Great Whites, Hammerheads, and others portrayed in the film. I’m not sure the MEG’s movements were exactly 100% spot on, but we can forgive them that. After all, who can really say how a Megalodon would move?
Now, concerning story.
The film’s opening was quite good. As much as I wish I could have seen the events depicted in the prologue to the first book, it did a good job of introducing Jonas and the strength of his character (as well as his internal conflict).
The story progresses a bit slowly at first, but once things get moving there really aren’t any hitches for a good hour. And then, it really only stalls on account of mostly unrelated conversations happening in the midst of a Megalodon attack!
Apart from that aside, the majority of the story flows smoothly with lots of suspense and more than a couple “jump” moments. Even my wife (who is a HUGE horror fan, so doesn’t scare easily) jumped a few times.
Okay, now on to my limited complaints about the film (still spoiler-free).
For those who have read the books, you’ll know there was a strong explanation as to why the MEGs were where they were and why they haven’t been among us all this time. I really wish they had stuck with that, as the explanation given in the film is… rather weak, in my opinion. And the idea that we haven’t known about the Mariana Trench and the Challenger Deep for over a century is absurd.
This next is one point where I can’t help comparing the film to the books. I feel like they completely misrepresented Jonas’s character. At his second introduction, it seems they are trying to present him as a bit of an anti-hero with a rather Devil-May-Care attitude. And yet, twenty minutes later he’s acting like Captain America, making it his personal responsibility to save everyone. Honestly, the contradiction was rather jarring.
I really missed the Crusader Jonas Taylor that I met in the first MEG book. I also wish there had been the “memento” he carried throughout the entire first book.
And lastly, the ending.
If you’re hoping for that awesome, visceral climax you got from the book, let me disabuse you of that here and now. Don’t get me wrong, the climax is still pretty visceral and well done, but this is one place I was really hoping they would stick with how it was done it the book.
In closing, as much as I would LOVE to see more MEG, I have my doubts it will happen. The fact that it wasn’t left nearly as open-ended as the first book doesn’t really mean a whole lot, I’ll grant you that. There’s still plenty of room for more stories, be it adaptations of further books or original stories.
But simply based on conversations I heard from others on my way out of the theater, I get the general impression not everyone liked it as much as I did. And I feel like, between the high profile actors and the killer special effects budget, this is one of those movies that if it doesn’t do amazingly well in the theater then we’re not likely to see a sequel.
And now, over to you. What did you think of the movie?
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