The Movie Waffler New to VOD - MEG 2: THE TRENCH | The Movie Waffler


A mining operation unleashes multiple Megalodons.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Ben Wheatley

Starring: Jason Statham, Wu Jing, Sophia Cai, Page Kennedy, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Skyler Samuels, Sienna Guillory, Cliff Curtis

Meg 2: The Trench poster

As a movies and comics obsessed kid I would make my own comics based on movies. If it was a movie I enjoyed I'd stick close to the original story, but for those I didn't care for I'd embellish them with all sorts of nonsense. Too young to understand its genius on a first watch, Jaws bored the pants off my seven-year-old self ("It's just three blokes getting pissed on a boat, innit?"), and so I took a liberal approach to "adapting" it in my comic book version. For a start I made Bruce the shark the size he appeared on the poster, turning him from a Great White to a whale with sharp teeth. I also threw in a few other monsters and simply because he was my favourite movie star at the time, Jackie Chan became the hero of the story.

Sharksploitation sequel Meg 2: The Trench isn't based on that comic I made all those years ago, but it might as well be. It's absolutely ridiculous, and as unwatchable as my comic was unreadable. It also seems to think a giant shark isn't enough to satisfy cinemagoers who purchase a ticket for a giant shark movie and so it throws in a host of other dinosaurs. It doesn't star Jackie Chan, but it does have one of his modern incarnations in Chinese action star Wu Jing, who really struggles to perform in English. Maybe director Ben Wheatley was similarly bored by Jaws as a kid.

Meg 2: The Trench review

There are on-the-nose nods to Spielberg's film here, and to its diminishing sequels, but Wheatley also evokes a host of exploitation films, from Little Shop of Horrors to Planet of the Vampires via Day of the Dead. If you're a fan of such stuff you'll find yourself occasionally stirred from your slumber with a brief "huh" as you note another reference, but there's little else to keep your interest.

I don't want to sound like those clowns who complained about the lack of screen time given to the titular lizard of Gareth Edwards' Godzilla, but there's a bizarre lack of giant shark action here. The first movie gave us one giant shark in the form of a resurrected prehistoric megalodon, and taking its cues from Aliens, the sequel promised multiple megs. Sure, there are several megs involved here, but they have about as much impact as the women in a Christopher Nolan movie. Instead the villains are gun-toting mercenaries hired by a deep sea mining operation, and there are various dinosaurs milling about.

Meg 2: The Trench review

Meg 2: The Trench can't decide what sort of a movie it wants to be. It opens like a James Bond knockoff with Jason Statham's Jonas Taylor fighting said miners in a poorly choreographed sequence that suggests Wheatley doesn't have a knack for action. Much of the film appears to be aping the "family" shtick of the Fast & Furious movies with a host of poorly realised characters vying for the viewer's attention. Why anyone would want to copy the awful Jurassic World movies is beyond me, but that's what we get here in spades with all manner of dinosaurs running amok. The latter admittedly makes for a clever prologue, though it's been long ago spoiled by the trailer.

Meg 2: The Trench has 99 problems and the ditch is one. The first hour of the movie is a shark-free slog through the deep sea ditch. There's nothing more tedious in movies than underwater sequences. Come on, admit it, every time James Bond dons a frog mask you hit the fast forward button. Half of this seafaring snoozer is an extended underwater sequence, one with CG so sludgey it's difficult to comprehend what you're watching.

Meg 2: The Trench review

The biggest problem with Meg 2: The Trench is that it fundamentally misunderstands the appeal of sharksploitation movies. Almost none of them are good, and the few that work (Jaws; 47 Metres Down) manage to pull off the feat of making us care about the human characters. A lot of the bad ones are fun however, and the thrill comes from seeing a bunch of human assholes get chewed up by sharks. This desire for carnage is never sated in Meg 2: The Trench, which makes you wonder why they hired a filmmaker like Wheatley. When the megs make their way to an island filled with tourists the stage is set for some over-the-top mayhem along the lines of Alexandre Aja's deliriously entertaining Piranha remake, but it never pans out because the film is more focussed on giving us the sort of overblown action-oriented climax that has numbed us in the closing 40 minutes of so many blockbusters of the past decade. Rather than hooting and hollering as the Hawaiian shirted knobs and their surgically enhanced trophy wives get their heads bitten off, we're left to watch the human characters mow down a variety of creatures. It all comes off as mean-spirited.

I'm told there's an alternate cut of the film playing in Chinese cinemas in which Jing's character is the hero rather than Staham's. I'd like to think the communist cut doubles down on rich assholes being devoured so if any readers have seen that version, please let me know. It couldn't possibly be as bad as the version the West has been lumbered with.

Meg 2: The Trench
 is on UK/ROI VOD now.

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