Beach season is fast approaching, and what better way to kick things off than with a “good” old shark movie? Action star Jason Statham‘s newest outing in Jon Turteltaub‘s The Meg looks about as delightfully ridiculous as they come. With the help of a crew, Statham is going up against an ancient sea creature that should very well be extinct.
The film isn’t as much of a joke as it sounds. The Meg is actually based on a science fiction novel by Steve Alten. Also starring Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose, Winston Chao, and Cliff Curtis, it centers on Jonas Taylor (Statham), a deep sea diver and eventual paleontologist who witnesses a megalodon shark. He has to then join forces with Suyin Zhang (Li) in order to stop the shark from wreaking havoc, which includes attacking tourist traps and ruining perfectly good vacations.
The trailer doesn’t seem to actually share much of the book’s original tone. The footage banks on Statham’s typical onscreen steeliness in order to sell the shadow of a rather troubled protagonist as opposed to any character exposition. The Meg doesn’t look particularly terrifying or even serious despite the film clearly gearing up to be a spectacle of sorts. However, given that its source material notably has several sequels, Jonas Taylor is quite literally an action hero going up against prehistoric creatures. Maybe Warner Bros. just wanted to take some extreme creative liberties in their adaptation of this series.
Despite these glaring differences between the source text and the trailer, Turteltaub is the guy who directed not only the National Treasure movies but also the criminally underrated The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (I’m only half-joking). So, if anything, he definitely knows how to make an exceedingly entertaining popcorn movie.
Let’s take a deep dive into this first trailer:
Not only are we introduced to The Meg with a clear location marker, we get a feel for just how equipped this group of individuals are from the get-go. They’re working from an actual research facility that looks almost spaceship-esque once we go deeper, and it feels like there is no shortage of resources. But evidently, none of this will be enough against a gargantuan shark.
If anything, this shot exemplifies the beauty and terror of the deep sea, and is one of the shots in the trailer that could be taken somewhat seriously. Somewhere along the way, movies about the wonders of underwater habitats kind of died out in popularity. There’s definitely no shortage of films milking the fearful nature of the ocean but there’s still something majestic and appreciable about it.
However, as always, it’s implied that curiosity will inevitably kill the cat in this dark, yet strangely fascinating underwater adventure.
Honestly, why is there a kid here? Regardless of who this little girl’s parents are — Suyin is seen comforting her a few shots later but that’s not enough to make any kind of familial connection — that is clearly a recipe for disaster. This is one job you don’t really want to bring your kids to!
Still, children really sell the scary giant shark narrative. The girl lets her toy fall to the floor as she looks at this beast of a creature approaching the vessel. She is even dressed in pastels for optimum contrast.
And so comes the first lines that are spoken in the trailer after an echo of a scream. The ever-predictable “What’s that?” Clearly, the shark is the one that makes first contact and now the humans have to try and defend themselves from this attack.
The first introduction to Statham comes as he’s running headfirst towards danger. Here he is, worriedly gazing up at some dents in the glass of the research facility in the shape of humongous shark teeth. Some vulnerable characters in the background for good measure, solidifying some kind of hero status for his character.
“What you people discovered is bigger than we ever thought possible!” Per regular action movie protocol, almost-exposition for you. We’re given some stats on the megalodon, but they’re not particularly helpful because nobody is expecting to run into a “living fossil.”
The trailer has thus far made it a point to showcase a few shots of deep-sea exploration, and the crew’s surroundings all look slightly alien. Again, there’s an eerie beauty to the entire thing, yet one of the more claustrophobic shots features a giant squid enveloping Suyin’s vessel…
…And that honestly looks more frightening than the Meg itself.
Possibly one of the best parts of The Meg trailer is the fact that Statham eventually looks at the creature and says “It’s a megalodon,” as though that would be the most obvious conclusion in the world. Book readers will know that the character does have some history with these creatures, but the trailer just doesn’t give us any indication of that. So, really, the moment plays out more hilariously than it should.
The trailer then cuts to a scene topside, where a marriage is taking place on a boat and some celebratory shenanigans are ensuing. Everyone is soon jumping into the open water, and even the dog decides to join in the fun.
Please don’t let this little one be eaten. Take the humans but leave the dog out of this.
At some point, the meg switches course and decides to swim to the surface, fueled by what is presumably a primal lust for blood. Neither the research crew nor Jonas is anywhere in sight, although the latter does declare that “We need to find it and kill it.”
But not before the meg terrorizes some unsuspecting beachgoers! Fresh meat galore!
Wilson, who has so far been the consistent source of comic relief throughout the trailer, also delivers an obligatorily facetious Shark Week reference. Given the lines he’s had so far, he’s probably going to steal the entire show and be the perfect counterpoint to silent and grumpy Statham.
This is predictably not one of those movies that wait for an epic final reveal of its intimidating monster. The trailer depicts a ton of close-up shots of the Meg and its teeth, but here’s a long shot for good measure. And it’s freaking majestic.
Some Statham clips then make up a montage, followed by another Wilson quip that really seals the whole deal of this duo: “He looks heroic, but he’s kind of got a negative attitude!” Whether or not this was based on a book, the premise of The Meg probably could have been just a buddy cop situation teaming up Statham and Wilson.
And we’ve got a zinger of a line to finish everything off, because that’s just what badasses say when they’re trying to fight a giant ancient shark. “Chew on this, you ugly b–.”
Just kidding! There needs to be yet another mandatory shot of Statham doing the absolute most, outswimming the beast for a peak action hero moment.
The Meg will come splashing into theaters on August 10th.