Ten Things Parents Should Know About ‘The Meg’

Jason Statham takes on a giant prehistoric shark in The Meg, hitting theaters this weekend. Should you take the kids to see it? Read on to find out.

1. What’s it about?

Thanks to some meddling by a group of overeager scientists, a megalodon—the largest shark ever to live on the planet—emerges from the deep to terrorize the scientists, and it’s up to rescue diver Jonas (Jason Statham) to save the day. It’s based on a book with the same title, but I haven’t read it, so I have no idea whether or not it stays true to the original story.

2. Where does it take place?

This is another in an ever-increasing string of movies primarily financed by Chinese investors. They don’t seem to mind having big Hollywood action stars headline their movies or mind having the movies in English, but they do like having them based at home, and so The Meg terrorizes the ocean of China—and specifically, Shanghai—rather than the US. And for the record, I don’t mind that at all. Our coastal cities can use a break from getting wiped out in the movies.

3. How are the effects?

Very good, as you’d expect from a movie that reportedly cost over $100M. The shark in particular is quite believable, and the actors all do a fine job pretending to be in the frame with it.

4. How silly is the science?

It’s a movie about modern humans being attacked by a creature that has been extinct for 2.6 million years. If you have problems suspending your disbelief, this isn’t the movie for you. But hopefully, you already knew that.

5. What is it rated and why?

The film is rated PG-13 for “action/peril, bloody images and some language.” The action/peril part should be obvious—the characters spend most of their time trying to not get eaten by the shark. And the language wasn’t bad enough to really stand out to me. There are a lot of “hells” and “damns.” If anyone said anything worse than that, it didn’t register.

As for the blood… the movie is surprisingly tame. Disappointingly tame, if you take Statham’s word for it. (And note: there’s a lot worse language in that link than there is in the movie.) Quite a few characters and lots and lots of bystanders meet their end, but no one is really shown being ripped apart by the shark. The most blood you get in the movie comes from a stab wound suffered by a character early on in the film.

There’s no sex or nudity at all in the movie.

6. Will I enjoy it?

I definitely liked the movie, but I should admit here that two of my favorite things to watch on the big screen are sharks and Jason Statham. I mean, I even liked 47 Meters Down. So perhaps my opinion here is a bit skewed, but I can say that the movie exactly delivers what it promises. It doesn’t try to pretend to be anything other than a somewhat ridiculous man vs shark movie, and at that, it definitely succeeds. And as a bonus, you get to watch Statham chew on some scenery along the way.

7. Will my kids like it?

Older teens almost certainly will enjoy it, but I’d hesitate before taking younger kids. While the producers decided to stick to the PG-13 rating and avoid the gore, there are still plenty of jump scares, and the main characters—particularly Statham’s Jonas and Bingbing Li’s Suyin—are in constant danger. It’s definitely not the scariest movie out there, but there’s plenty of fodder for nightmares in the movie.

8. Is it worth seeing in 3D or IMAX?

I saw the movie in plain old 2D, partially because I really hate 3D, but mostly because the time worked out best for the 2D showing. This isn’t a movie that had obvious 3D scenes, but there were points that you might guess the shark jumping out of the screen at you might be a bit more intense. However, I didn’t feel that I missed out on anything seeing it in 2D, so I don’t mind having not spent the money on 3D or on a larger format.

9. When’s a good time to sneak out for a bathroom break?

The first two acts of the film alternate between mid-ocean man vs shark combat and attempts at character development back at the fancy underwater lab. Pretty much anytime they go back to the lab, you have several minutes where you aren’t going to miss any shark attacks. (I’m assuming here that you are seeing the movie to watch the shark, and not to see whether Jonas and Suyin end up together.)

10. Is there anything during or after the credits?

No. As soon as the credits roll, you’re free to go.

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