Saturday, 25 August 2018

IN THEATRES: The Meg & The Darkest Minds

It's the long-awaited return of the double bill review!

The Meg
When a scientific expedition to the bottom of the ocean accidentally releases a prehistoric shark, an oddball team led by Jason Statham try to hunt it down before it eats 200 bathing tourists. 

This movie is exactly what you think it is, if it was a co-production with China, from the director of National Treasure.

Jon Turtletaub is a journeyman filmmaker who never really brings anything of interest, either visually, or in terms of performances, to make his genre offerings sing. On paper, The Meg could go any number of ways. There is no 'right' way to make a movie - the problem with The Meg is that it tries to play between two different versions of what it could be.

This movie suffers for trying to hew a midway between horror and goofy, and ends up not really satisfying as either. It is watchable, but because it never figures out what kind of movie it wants to be, it ends up a little dull.

The other problem is that the filmmakers completely forget where their leading man's capabilities lie. In his book Blockbuster, Tom Shone had a great line about Arnold Schwarzenegger, and how his forte was physics not chemistry.

Jason Statham works in a similar way - he does not have the capacity for a great palette of emotions. He has a very specific skillset and outside of a few cases - someone is going to yelling Hummingbird/Redemption - he flounders when he is not allowed to use it.

Statham's forte is grizzled stoicism which - when combined with his physical talents - make him great as an action hero, or a comic foil (The Transporter, Crank and Spy).

This is a long way of saying any movie that tries to spark romantic chemistry with Jason Statham is up a blind alley. There is more chemistry between the Stath and that decapitated head in Crank 2 than there is between him and Bingbing Li. I am not familiar with her work, but she has an impossible task - acting in another language against a guy who is better at fighting a room full of dudes with a fire house is a no-win scenario.

While it is never outright terrible, The Meg is kind of dull and repetitive. Ranin Wilson has some moments as the smarmy billionaire trying to cover his own ass, but the movie never really finds its sea legs.

If you are looking for a goofy giant shark movie, you're better off sticking with Deep Blue Sea - or just go watch Jaws.

The Darkest Minds
Kids gain powers. Government gets scared and imprisons kids. Our protagonist discovers she is the most rare and unique of the super-powered kids and goes on the run to try and get back to her family.

Ugh, that sounds more exciting than it actually is.


This movie is the worst thing I have seen this year.

It was also the longest-feeling movie I saw this year. I spent three hours on my feet ushering a documentary about the New York Public Library, and that movie was so much more interesting than this pile of garbage.

I don't want to waste time on it, so I'll run through the list of the things I did not hate:

a) The little girl who played Young Amandla was pretty good.

b) These two good lines: "It's a mini-van, not a Viking" and "You caught me starring at a lake. I am turning into my own grandmother"

This is a movie where the problems are obvious from the jump: a combination of a bad script with too small a budget to realise its massive canvas. 

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