Five years after the original film took a chomp out of 2018’s summer box office, Meg 2: The Trench swam into theaters last night. Though the first movie was an entertaining way to spend two hours of your life, I can’t claim the same for the sequel. No one expects movies like Meg 2 to be masterpieces, but unfortunately, this second entry is the definition of “meh”. It’s bad, but not in an enjoyable or endearing way.
The good about Meg 2: The Trench
Despite the overall feeling of apathy that the film left me with, there were some great aspects of Meg 2: The Trench. Jason Statham is a charismatic leading man as always. Jonas’s father-daughter relationship with Sophia Cai’s Meiying was a standout and provided some of the only emotional moments. Honestly, none of us go to movies like Meg 2 for the human element, we’re in it for the giant monster action! That being said, Jonas and Meiying’s relationship was portrayed better than I expected, and their love for each other was absolutely believable.
Page Kennedy as DJ was the only funny part of the movie. His jokes landed every time and Kennedy lit up the screen every time he appeared. His inclusion made me wish more of the characters from the first film returned for the sequel, as the cast is mostly a group of new faces only here to become shark food.
I also loved parts of the action sequences, although there aren’t many involving the actual megalodons. Director Ben Wheatley made some unique choices, making parts of the action sequences feel fresh and new. The camera work was particularly good at certain points and I was extremely impressed with the way Jonas outsmarted the sharks this time around. In fact, one third-act megalodon fight was the perfect mix of ridiculous and amazing, and I wish more of the film left me feeling that good.
There are some interesting deaths for side characters as well, which isn’t something I usually notice or care about. I like the carnage of monster movies, but I always feel bad for the supporting characters who get a few lines before they die. While I still felt a little bad this time, I was more impressed with the way the characters were killed off. Contrary to your expectations, not all of them are eaten by giant megalodons!
Needs more megalodons!
So with interesting action sequences and fun characters, what’s not to like? Well, unfortunately, there’s a lot of mediocrity running throughout the rest of the film. Most of the characters are uninteresting and thinly written. The identity of the mole sabotaging the group is instantly obvious from the second the concept is introduced. Supporting characters you miss from the first film, are unceremoniously killed offscreen. Most of the actors deliver lines in a stilted and awkward manner, with hardly any jokes landing. I saw the film in a packed theater and only DJ’s jokes got a few weak laughs.
But more upsetting is the curious lack of megalodons in Meg 2. There’s a pack of three sharks supposedly terrorizing our core group, but they’re offscreen for large portions of the movie. In fact, it’s other prehistoric creatures that get the majority of the action scenes. I respect the attempt to broaden the monster action, but if I watch a movie called Meg 2, I’m expecting the megalodons to be the main stars. I don’t want to see amphibious reptiles attacking everyone in sight every ten minutes, especially not during the finale when the giant sharks should be getting the spotlight.
On that note, there’s so little megalodon carnage in this film that you’ve seen practically all of it in the trailer. It’s no wonder the trailer essentially shows you the entire film – there’s no other megalodon footage to use to market the movie. I was disappointed in the finale after pretty decent first and second acts. The megalodon vs. human fights in this film don’t live up to the first film at all, except for the very end when they meet their match.
Uninteresting tropes in Meg 2: The Trench
Nothing in Meg 2 feels particularly unique aside from the way some of the action is shot. The plot is generic and the dialogue is boring. The movie reaches levels of utter ridiculousness that take scenes from entertaining to boring. It feels like you’ve seen this film ten times already, and that’s not just because it’s a sequel. Some sequences come straight out of the Jurassic Park films, but not because there’s a T. rex in the opening scene. There are certain moments that are exact rip-offs of better films to such a distracting degree that you wonder if Meg 2 would have been better as a meta-parody film in the vein of Sharknado.
Again, no one expects a masterpiece from a film like Meg 2: The Trench. But at the very least, the audience expects to walk away having had a fun two hours at a movie theater. I don’t exactly regret going to see the film, but I also could’ve used those two hours of my life better. Nothing in this film was particularly unique, fun, or exciting, and that’s something no one can say about the first Meg film.
It’s baffling to think Warner Bros. spent an estimated $129 million making this unnecessary sequel, especially compared to their recent juggernaut Barbie (which only cost $15 million more). Aside from weak attempts to add an environmental protection theme to the story, Meg 2: The Trench has nothing to say. And if there’s nothing to say and barely anything to entertain audiences, what is the point of the film existing? It looks like the studio took all the wrong lessons from the success of The Meg, dumping a sequel on us that is nowhere near as fun or enjoyable as the first installment.
My rating for this film:
Meg 2: The Trench is now in theaters. Are you planning to dip your toe in these waters and watch it this weekend? Or will you take your boogie board to safer shores? Let us know on social media or The Cosmic Circus Discord.