Meg 2: The Trench is a campy, implausible, preposterous but fun big budget B-movie

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
BAD SHARK!: Once again, Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) must save vacationers from prehistoric apex predators, in Meg 2: The Trench, screening in local theaters.

Ben Wheatley (Free Fire, Sightseers, Kill List) directs this sequel to 2018’s The Meg, about the research scientists exploring the Marianas Trench who encounter the prehistoric Megalodon, a massive 75-foot shark. This time around, the researchers return to further study the strange hidden world, where they uncover new threats as well as a secret rare earth minerals mining operation. (116 min.)

Glen: The action begins 65 million years ago with a fun CGI depiction of the prehistoric food chain, introducing us to a new creature that can best be described as a hybrid of land-and-sea seals, pack-hunting wolves, and toothy catfish-alligators all feasting on a beached whale. Soon a T-Rex arrives to show the, let’s call them “killer amphibians,” who’s really in charge … until a megalodon snatches the T-Rex from the shore. Mm. B-movie magic, and this is not a spoiler. If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve seen this opening scene. In fact, the trailer reveals a bunch of the outlandish moments in this ridiculous follow-up to its ridiculous predecessor. Prepare yourself for Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) riding a jet ski and harpooning megalodons with homemade exploding spears. Prepare yourself for a giant squid. Prepare yourself for three tourist-eating megalodons and a bunch of marauding killer amphibians. It’s bigger, dumber, and more ridiculous than the original, which—if you’re going to see it, let’s face it—is exactly what you’re paying for.

Anna: Right, there are no worries here about the filmmakers taking the Meg franchise in a different direction. They stick with the ridiculous and amp it up even more. I like these campy, over-the-top monster flicks like the Piranha series and Godzilla vs. Kong. There’s just something deliciously summery about these movies that brings delight. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty to groan over here—but there’s no delusion by those involved about what they’re doing. The Meg 2: The Trench is like the deep-fried butter stand at the fair—there is no rhyme or reason to why it exists, but there is always a line and no matter how much you deny it, you know you’ll be right back in line and handing over cash next time it comes around. Statham is always great, and he has panache in these brash hero roles. Between the Fast and the Furious, Transporter, and Meg franchises, he’s solidified himself in the role of swaggering badass who has comedy chops to boot.

Glen: It’s not just giant sharks and squids that endanger this team of scientists—there’s someone in their own organization who’s out to sabotage their operation, which they realize when they discover a mining facility at the bottom of the trench and a henchman named Montes (Sergio Peris-Mencheta) who’s trying to kill them. Much of the original cast has returned, including Shuya Sophia Cai as Meiying, the daughter of one of the first film’s researchers. She was just 10 in the first film and is now 15. Also back from round one is Page Kennedy as hapless DJ, who in the last five years has been honing his fighting skills, which come in handy when their facility is attacked. Cliff Curtis is back as Mac. I do miss Rainn Wilson as Morris, but since he was eaten in the first, oh well. Ignore the groan-inducing dialogue and embrace the absurd CGI mayhem. Eat some popcorn. Turn off your brain. Live a little.

Anna: I love that they brought back the same young actress as Meiying. She did great here! I’m not sure if I missed what happened between the first film and the second, but her mother is now gone and Jonas is her protector along with her uncle, Jing Wu (Juiming Zhang). Sometimes you just have to let go of knowing how we got where we are. It’s all so silly, and I’m here for it! More homemade harpoons and big-toothed sea monsters, please!

New Times Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey and freelancer Anna Starkey write Sun Screen. Glen compiles listings. Comment at [email protected].

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