It’s pretty hard to be ambivalent about sharks.
Most people, I’d wager, fall under two extremes: super into them, or super into never seeing them in their freaking life. This makes sharks great fodder for movies, where sharkphiles and sharkphobes alike can safely indulge in their passion or fear from the comfort of their home or local movie theater.
To that end, you should consider watching The Meg, a movie that asks the powerful question: Can Jason Statham fight a shark and win? Maybe you root for the shark. Maybe you root for the man. Either way, you will emerge more prepared for this week’s release of Meg 2: The Trench, a movie that looks like it intends to do everything The Meg did, but…more.
In an effort to either assuage your fears or stoke your passions, I am here to arm you with some knowledge, which I hope will leave you feeling better prepared to stream The Meg right now, or at a future social gathering where you can regale your friends with trivia.
- “Meg” is short for megalodon, an extinct species of giant shark that we don’t actually know a lot about, except that it was probably freaking huge (from the few bits of its skeleton we’ve actually found) and terrifying.
- In this, it’s kind of like a dinosaur. Polygon TV editor Zosha Millman, in fact, calls the Meg “an underwater dino,” and part of what makes The Meg fun is that it’s more of a dinosaur movie than a shark one. Jurassic Park, not Jaws.
- Like with Jurassic Park, the best thing about The Meg is its sense of scale. A little girl stands in an underwater glass tunnel as the shark’s gaping maw opens in front of her. Swimmers tubing at a beach float like Froot Loops as the massive shark glides underneath them. Moments like these are when the film sings.
- A lot of people seem to believe the Meg still exists. That is because, in 2013, the Discovery Channel kicked off Shark Week with a fake documentary called Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives, staking the (completely made-up) claim that there are Megs still out there. They never really walked that back, either. This has likely been a boon for The Meg, because, as with The Blair Witch Project, scary things in movies are scarier (and more exciting) if you think they’re real.
- I am not one to judge the people who believe that the Meg is really out there. I, personally, believe that if Jason Statham were to actually meet a giant shark, he could kick its ass.
- A lot of this is thanks to The Meg’s visual effects. You can find several making-of featurettes for this movie on YouTube, but it’s a mistake to look at the shark — which looks about as lifelike as you’d expect for a CG monster — as an indicator of the craft on display. What really makes The Meg impressive is everything else: how its effects artists manipulate the water, the actors, and the practical elements like boats to sell its giant shark attacks.
- The Meg’s 2018 release was quietly a watershed moment for Hollywood, as one of the most successful Chinese co-productions in Tinseltown. Meg 2 isn’t just a hope for a solid new franchise, but a business model.
- Like in the first movie, Jason Statham will fight a giant shark, but this time alongside Chinese action superstar Wu Jing, which means there is another guy known for beating up people who’s potentially available to turn shark into sushi. Also, there are three Megs in this one — plenty to go around.
- You don’t need to watch The Meg in order to appreciate Meg 2, but why wouldn’t you? It’s streaming on Max, and you get to tell all your friends that you’re “watching The Meg,” a fun thing to say on any occasion. Try it! It’s fun.