I have a love-hate relationship with movies like this, by which I mean that I love them and I hate myself for loving them. While movies like “Jaws” had a measurable negative effect on public perception of sharks, I don’t believe that more obviously ridiculous movies like SharkNado have a similar effect. Jason Statham playing a marine biologist in a movie that includes Rainn Wilson? Sign me up.
If not for the people who believe that these movies are real and therefore decide to yell at marine biologists on twitter about it, I’d be all for this. Let’s be totally clear here- Carcharocles megalodon is extinct, and here’s how we know. Shark Week lied to you about it. Actresses from this movie asking about it are not experts. This movie is completely fictional. You can certainly watch it and enjoy it, but please don’t cite it as evidence that a 50 foot long whale-eating shark that used to live in shallow coastal waters near what are now populated areas is not extinct.
Anyway, here is a scene-by scene breakdown of what’s in the first trailer. From it, we can tell that this is an action-packed movie with a great cast that does not stick too closely to the books, and is also not particularly interested in scientific accuracy even with respect to issues unrelated to the “giant extinct animals are actually not extinct”central conceit.
We open at the “Mana One” research station off the Coast of China. This was not a facility from the books, those focused on the (fictional) Tanaka Institute in California. The Tanaka Institute was a huge attached-to-the-ocean aquarium with the goal of trapping and studying migrating whales, where this research station appears to be in the open ocean like the one in “Deep Blue Sea.” God I love that movie.
The Mana One research center appears to have a significant underwater component, and also there’s a child there.
Abovementioned child is startled by something. Could it be a giant shark? Yes, it is a giant shark. (Incidentally there don’t appear to be any child actors on the IMDB page for this movie, which may be a spoiler for this child’s survival).
Everyone in the research center comes running, and Jason Statham gives a meaningful, dramatic look. He knows what this is. At least he did in the book, which they’ve already changed significantly by casting an action movie star like Statham to play a marine biologist. In the book, Statham’s character Jonas Taylor did an emergency surface from a deep sea submersible dive after he claimed to see a megalodon, which resulted in killing his partner and earning the mockery of the Navy and research community.
The child says “there’s a monster outside” as everyone looks at the enormous bite marks. Maybe I’m crazy but wasn’t the shark much bigger relative to the size of the window 20 seconds ago?
“What you people discovered is bigger than we ever thought possible,” an offscreen voice says as a deep sea submersible descends. It is unclear what they discovered. I am gonna call that this is a reference to the Panthalassa Sea, a plot point in later “Meg” books, which is a previously-hidden body of water that contains not only megalodon but lots of other extinct animals, including several marine reptiles and marine mammals that have evolved gills so they can stay underwater. Science!
Here we see some deep sea animals. This is presumably supposed to be some kind of anglerfish, but the deep sea biologists I reached out to in order to get some kind of approximate species ID laughed at me. So it’s clear we’re not going to be spending a lot of effort on scientific accuracy in the movie about the extinct giant shark.
“How big is that thing?” “It was the largest shark that ever existed!” (Fact check: true! Learn more about the real megalodon here in my recent blog post). “It’s a living fossil!” (Don’t use that term, if this actually happened than Megalodon would be a “Lazarus species,” which I think is a cooler term anyway. I wrote about another shark Lazarus species here!) “Thought to have been extinct for over two million years.” (Fact check- true!) “Wrong!”
More deep sea critters! These are supposed to be the mariana trench deep sea jellies I assume?
Oh hey, a giant squid. Why not? (It may be a colossal squid, I can’t tell from this brief look at a distance in dark water, but it’s certainly an angry squid.)
The megalodon ate the squid and saved the day? Shades of the T-Rex fighting the velociraptors in Jurassic Park? Statham says “My God! It’s a megalodon!” So maybe he didn’t know what it was earlier? Or maybe these scenes aren’t in chronological order?
Now some humans and a dog are swimming, and the megalodon, previously only living in deep water, is now at the surface. Do you think they’ll make friends with it? Also the shark is close to shore now.
“That thing’s out there. We need to find it, and kill it,” declares the marine biologist played by Statham. “Why don’t you put a tracker on it? Don’t you guys ever watch Shark Week?” Rainn Wilson’s character suggests instead. Kill me.
Update: the shark does not appear to be interested in making friends with the friendly humans. I hope the dog is ok!
A series of quick action shots of Statham, as Rainn Wilson says of him “He looks heroic, but he’s kind of got a negative attitude!” I see that the “show, don’t tell” school of narrative storytelling is alive and well in Hollywood.
Why is the shark a different size relative to humans every time we see it?
Someone is very distressed to be not on the boat here. Possibly because of a giant shark in the water.
It appears that the super-fast, super-maneuverable submersibles from the book series make an appearance.
Yeah, the shark definitely does not appear to be interested in making friends.
In case you were hoping that there would be soldiers firing guns at a fish in this movie, your prayers have been answered.
This is probably not going to end well for that dude.
The shark is smaller now?
EXPLOSIONS! (Also, being on the boat does not appear to be significantly safer than being in the water near the boat).
Yes! Yes! Get the tourist in the zorb!
The shark appears to have too many gill slits…
Are we just giving up on keeping the shark a consistent size throughout the movie? The shark’s mouth is smaller than a window but much bigger than a boat? The boat is much smaller than a paddleboard? What’s happening here?
“The Meg” opens in theaters August 10th. And you’re goddamn right I’m gonna see it.
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