Sunday, October 15, 2023

The Meg 2: The Trench

Movie Name:
Meg 2: The Trench
Year of Release: 2023
Director: Ben Wheatley
Starring: Jason Statham, Jing Wu, Shuya Sophia Cai, Cliff Curtis, Page Kennedy, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Skyler Samuels, Melissanthi Mahut, Whoopie Van Raam, Kiran Sonia Sawar, Sienna Guillory, Felix Mayr, Robin Hill, Tao Guo, Stewart Alexander
Genre: Action, Adventure, Horror
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 5
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis and Review
Celebrated British writer/director Ben Wheatley once again has confounded audiences, as he has decided to tackle a big budget monster/action film, unlike any of the previous material he adapted or written before ("Sightseers" being one of his most well known features, alongside "A Field in England", "High-Rise" and "Free Fire"). Much like Jon Turteltaub's "The Meg", this feature is an adaptation of a novel by Steve Alten. The narrative once again focuses on Jonas Taylor, who has this time around and since the events of the first film, been involved in fighting environmental crimes, while also continuing to help Mana One in exploring the Mariana Trench where the original Megalodon was found. He has also raising his teenage daughter Meiying, with the help of her her uncle Jiuming, who has also acquired his father's company (alongside a financier by the name of Hillary Driscoll). Jonas and Jiuming go on a submersible exploration to the Trench, but are attacked and have to find a way to escape. They also uncover an illegal mining operation financed by Hillary Driscoll who wants to farm rare earth minerals. Hillary sends Montes, who has a beef with Jonas, to get rid of them. As they manage to miraculously escape, all these different agendas and treasons become apparent, and while Jonas and his team manage to flee unharmed, what is unleashed from the Trench threatens to kill and destroy everything in the area. 
If the previous installment of this franchise was indeed wafer thin in terms of character development, this one doesn't necessarily accomplish much in terms of moving that needle further. The characters are still for the most part forgettable and bluntly described. Their motivations are very cartoonish (the villainous business person who wants to mine rare minerals for billions, the only thing missing being Dr. Evil's laughter), and the henchmen who have a grudge towards the heroic and stoic central hero (grudges are hard to convincingly carry through in films these days, unless it's a film from Takashi Shimizu himself). However this film, much like the first one, has a director who knows this is essentially a big budget B-movie, and one who has smartly peppered the narrative with insightful influences from masterful films which includes John McTiernan's "Die Hard" married with Steven Spielberg's "Jaws" with sprinkles of James Cameron's "The Abyss" and even some Spielberg's "Jurassic Park": essentially, monster film married with high stakes escape thriller. And though the characters and situations themselves are neither finely observed or surprisingly fresh, they're also not so rudely established they prevent the narrative and film from moving forward and remaining watchable. The film benefits from nicely choreographed action sequences, alongside some impressive visual effects. The cast is serviceable even if not very memorable, but the production team is a solid one, including the beautiful cinematography from Haris Zambarloukos (who usually works with actor/writer/producer/director Kenneth Branagh), score from Harry Gregson-Williams, and production design from Chris Lowe (who has an impressive background in Art Direction, including Tim Burton's "Dumbo" and Sam Mendes' "Skyfall"). It is a middling affair, and doesn't necessarily add much to Ben Wheatley's unique career, but it's a watchable feature.