August 2018


f5eb99f3-e892-4a3a-956d-c536c6a11267-25002-0000243ed0db6d1dJaws 2 is the best shark movie ever made. It is. No, really, it is. It is so. How many helicopters does Jaws 1 eat? Exactly. So I went into The Meg knowing that it was unlikely to be better than Jaws 2, but maybe it would be better than Jaws 3? Surely it would be better than Jaws 4?

Jason Statham plays Jonas Taylor, a kinda International Rescue sort of chap. The movie opens with him having to make the decision to sacrifice two of his co-workers to save eleven others from a nuclear submarine that has apparently taken a bit of a battering from an unseen creature.

Five years later, and Jonas’s ex-wife, Lori (Jessica McNamee) is at the bottom of the ocean investigating a theoretical false floor. Financed by Jack Morris (Rainn Wilson), Dr Minway Zhang’s research facility has a suspicion that what they think is the ocean bed is actually a cloud of hydrogen sulfide and this patch of ocean may well be deeper than the Marianas trench. And it is. Lori’s submersible punctures the cloud and discovers a brand new ecosystem of creatures that you’d never think would exist under such extreme pressure, including a MAHOOOOOOOSIVE shark that doesn’t take kindly to the lights on the submersible invading its environment, attacks it and damages their systems. Cue the call out to Jonas for one more suicide rescue mission.

The movie isn’t really about the rescue but in performing it, they seemingly leave a gap in the hydrogen sulfide that allows the really big shark — the titular Meg or Megalodon — to make it out and into the regular ocean. Not only that, but no one tells the really big shark that the changes in pressure should really mean that it explodes when it gets nearer the surface and instead it goes about attacking the research facility. So Jason Statham is going to have to kill it.

Positioned as a horror comedy — Bobby Darrin’s Beyond the Sea in the trailer, anyone? — it’s neither horrific or funny enough to earn either label. Oddly, it seems to take itself fan too seriously for the most part, and steadfastly refuses to acknowledge that it’s utter hockum. There’s a moment when Jason Statham has the opportunity to punch the shark in the face and he doesn’t take it. I’ll never forgive it for that.

It’s cheesy but not cheesy enough. It’s a single slice of Baby Swiss when what it really needs to be is a wheel of Extra Mature Cheddar topped with Stilton and stuffed inside a nice bit of Roquefort. It’s not cheesy in a satisfying way and it’s written by people you’d swear didn’t speak English as their first language — except they do — and they’ve contrived with director Jon Turteltaub to forget to put in anything remotely thrilling or suspenseful into the near two hour running time. It’s not in the least bit exciting and events just plod along from one set piece to another with little in the way of narrative progression in between. Seemingly, Eli Roth was on board to direct and one imagines that while the end result would still probably be bobbins, at least there might’ve been a bit of gore to get worked up about.

It’s not entirely worthless. The dynamic between Statham and Li Bingbing’s Suyin Zhang is quite cute and Shuya Sophia Cai is good as Suyin’s daughter Meiying.

The movie cost a ridiculous amount of money to make and I have no doubt that it’ll turn a profit. But something as dumb and nonsensical as this really should be more fun. And it’s not. Honestly, it’s about on par with Jaws 3.5, and that’s probably the most damning thing I can say about it.

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poohDifficult as it may be to believe, but I was looking forward to this, seeing it as a potential stopgap until Paddington 3 has the good grace to be written and made and released and melt my heart all over again.

So how did that work out, then?

Proceedings begin with a young Christopher Robin saying cheerio to Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and the rest of the gang for what he believes to be the final time. He’s being sent off to boarding school so will be moving far from The Hundred Acre Wood. There follows the opening credits scene which takes altogether far too long to explain what happens to Christopher in the following years, and in doing so, basically lays out all the beats for everything that’s going to happen over the next hour and three quarters.

Christopher is sent away, loses his father, is told he is now the man of the house, as an adult and now played by Ewan McGregor he meets his wife, Evelyn (Hayley Atwell) has a daughter, Madeline (Bronte Carmichael), goes off to war, comes back with an injury, finds himself working long hours for a horrible boss in a factory, spends less and less time with his family and particularly a daughter who barely knows him. He pushes his work ethic on to her and has plans for her to go to boarding school.

He’s forgotten how to have fun. Evelyn can’t remember the last time he laughed. When he has to work instead of joining his wife and kid on a weekend break to his old house in Sussex, we get the feeling that he might either wind up on his own in life or die from stress. Meanwhile, Pooh has lost all his friends, so walks through Christopher Robin’s door in the tree, to find his old pal and get his help.

This is all in the first act. I haven’t spoiled anything. But if you’ve ever seen a movie in your life, I’ve kinda spoiled the whole thing. Yeah. You’re welcome. Nothing that happens beyond this will surprise you. It absolutely follows the path the rigid narrative demands, and that is a huge problem in making any kind of emotional investment in the film.

Not only that, we focus far too much on Christopher, when any fun to be had in the movie comes from Pooh and his friends, but particularly Pooh. All of the voice actors are great. Jim Cummings voices Pooh and Tigger. Brad Garrett is perfect as Eeyore.

Visually, though, it looks weird. The toys are beautifully animated but their eyes lack life which makes it look like The Hundred Acre Wood is actually somewhere on the set of The Walking Dead. Given that the Wood seems to match Christopher Robins’ mood at any given moment, it’s quite dark and foggy a lot of the time, which doesn’t help matters. It’s a really odd film for kids, if that’s even what it’s meant to be. So it occupies a strange place where it’s aimed at the wrong group of people that it hopes will appreciate it.

The actors are good for the most part and there’s a great cameo from Mackenzie Crook that’s over far too quickly, and a wee red balloon manages to be the movies heart, but overall it’s a let down and precisely no threat to a certain┬áPeruvian delight. It could’ve been so much better.