Even Killer Fish Movies Must Have Killer DNA: The Meg (2018)

November 20, 2018 | By

Before I get into the latest blog, a quick comment on the ongoing postal strike that has warring parties using mail delivery to gain leverage in bargaining that’s been going on for a year.

No mail delivery means no new review copies; Canada Post asking foreign countries to halt mail to Canada means no holiday cheer; union targeting overseas mail means fewer Ebay sales or purchases are happening; and the lack of an affordable delivery system means small businesses who rely on mail to get their e-commerce to buyers are quite fucked.

Back in he 1970s I remember my grandfather asking my mother ‘Why are there frequent postal strikes in Canada?’ She’d just shake her head, unable to give a concrete answer, whereas as an adult it became clear to me that the union and the crown corporate have maintained a special loathing of each other, always at odds, always trying to annoy the other, and with strikes, playing a careful game where public sympathy can nosedive if things drag on for too long.

Which seems to be where we’re headed. Both parties have had a year to work towards an agreement to avert holiday chaos, and yet they seemed willing to gamble on this specific time as a threat: If we can’t reach an agreement, all those Black Friday, Ebay, Amazon, etc. deliveries ain’t going nowhere.

I’ve prior DVD & Blu-ray releases I can cover, but when Ebay Canada makes a plea to the PM, it’s a hint that the company’s looked at worst case projections and saw a big decline in income from all those incremental fees and percentages from sales and Canada Post shipping.

Amazon.ca’s probably seen some hesitation for purchases if there’s zero guarantee Xmas gifts will arrive on time, making some buyers re-experience shopping at brick & mortar shops; it would be ironic that one effect of the strike is small and local shops experiencing a boost in early buying because they can offer immediate purchases that can be taken home and hidden until tree-time.

When I worked at an indie bookstore, our deliveries were largely through Mowat and Canpar, so new and catalogue titles were always arriving, although right now couriers could be easily swamped by anxious Xmas buyers, affecting some deliveries or turning away smaller orders. Anything’s possible.

But a strike dragging into prime parcel season may well cause a mess that’ll see mail still being sorted into January, since parking lots in the big sorting hubs are being filled by trailers jam packed with mail, as noted in today’s CBC piece.

Whether an agreement is reached by discussion, mediation, or legislation, the same two sides will still remain at odds because it’s in their nature: one seeks to control and economize, the other seeks to preserve. Both sides are still talking, but this particular strike seems headed for the record books.

A bag of charcoal for both parties for letting things escalate this high. No marzipan for you.

Moving on.


Now why would you think the original Jaws (1975) poster is phallic?


The killer fish genre became an instant blockbuster when Steven Spielberg’s Jaws (1975) terrified audiences and made swimming even in a landlocked pond a potential threat, but you could argue Henry Melville’s classic novel Moby Dick was the ultimate killer fish movie.

(Yes, I know the novel’s eponymous creature was a mammal, but it swam after boats and chomped up humans filled with a sense of superiority over anything wild. You could also argue Jules Verne’s 1870 novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea should qualify as a killer fishy tale, but aside from its killer squid sequence, it lacks the obsession by its human cast to restrain, control, and ultimately blast to hell the eponymous Moby Dick, evidenced in John Huston’s majestic, baroque 1956 film version.)

If Melville may have ever so slightly inspired Peter Benchley to write his 1974 Jaws novel (after which he revisited the genre with Beast and White Shark), then Jaws the movie spawned knock-offs Tentacles (1977), Alligator (1980), Piranha (1981). Years later came Piranha 3D (2010), an effectively dumb, gory 3D remake which, like the original film, spawned a disappointing sequel. (Actually, Piranha 3DD was utter shit.)

3D vivified the killer fish genre, and in spite of critics having ‘written off’ 3D as dead, the heavy CGI baked into tales of humans overwhelmed by natural elements and disastrous events have made it easy for films like Piranha 3D, The Meg, and Skyscraper to be post-rendered.

Piranha‘s 3D effects were utterly meh, and even if 3D for the latter two happened to be outstanding, the lack of decent scripts, direction, and plotting can neuter multi-dimensional effects – it’s why Jaws 3-D (1983) is pretty awful.

I didn’t bother examining the handful of extras on Warner Bros.’ flat Blu-ray of The Meg, and stuck to a straight review of why the film just isn’t as clever as the marketing campaign suggests. (Piranha 3DD‘s title and mammary inference remains the only clever aspect of a sloppily made, badly scripted cash-in.)

Many genre fans were drawn to the film’s brilliant tongue-in-cheek ad campaign that featured a shark’s maw that was bigger than the already massive eating machine used for the classic Jaws poster art, and if a sequel is to succeed, it needs to be shorn of the type of flaws that make The Meg very meh.


Shark eats Man. Meg eats Shark. Big burp ensures.


Coming next: Mid-Century melancholy in Martin Ritt’s provocative drama No Down Payment (1957), new on Blu from Twilight Time, and Dante Tomaselli’s debut Desecration (1999) on Blu via Code Red & Kino Lorber / Unobstructed View.




Mark R. Hasan, Editor

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