To steel yourself for this week's The Meg, in which Jason Statham fights the largest shark ever, here's a look at its predatory precedessors
Shark Week may be behind us, but the marketing campaign for Jon Turteltaub’s The Meg (opening August 10) is still chugging along. While we all wait to see whether Jason Statham is going to defeat the largest shark in existence by punching it in the face or hitting it with a car – either option seems plausible – we thought we’d take a quick look at its predatory predecessors.
Jaws, obviously. The granddaddy of all summer blockbusters, Steven Spielberg’s 1975 masterwork is also one of the greatest American movies ever made: a horror movie, an adventure film, a rich character study and even a blue-collar comedy. Don’t believe me? Go check it out at the Revue Cinema August 16 at 6:45 pm and see for yourself. Just don’t bother with the sequels.
Renny Harlin’s Deep Blue Sea sounded pretty dumb at the time. It’s a movie about super-smart sharks turning the tables on the scientists who engineered them in an isolated underwater facility. In fairness, the early marketing tried to play up the more ferocious aspects of the story. Now, of course, we all know how ridiculous it is, and embrace it as the camp classic it was meant to be. Join me at The Royal August 13 at 7:30 pm, where I’ll be introducing it as NOW’s Free Flick of the month! (Just don’t bother with the sequel.)
In between his Liam Neeson thriller Run All Night and his Liam Neeson thriller The Commuter, director Jaume Collet-Serra knocked out The Shallows, a taut, clever survival picture starring Blake Lively as a young American who finds herself trapped offshore in a Mexican inlet with a very hungry, very territorial shark. Lively finds a wide range of feeling within her character’s panic and determination – especially when she uses a dead surfer’s GoPro to record a goodbye message – and Collet-Serra even gives her a seagull sidekick for extra emotional investment. Give it a chance – it’s really good. Now on Netflix.
The man-eaters aren’t the scariest thing about Open Water, Chris Kentis’s no-budget 2003 thriller about a couple accidentally stranded in shark-infested waters. Sure, it’s unnerving to glimpse (real) fins cutting through the water behind Blanchard Ryan’s Susan and Daniel Travis’s Daniel as they tread water and try to keep each other going as the hours mount up. But the real horror is watching them slowly abandon any hope of being rescued – and then try to keep going anyway. Just don’t bother with the sequels.
Johannes Roberts’s 47 Meters Down has a perfect B-movie premise. Two sisters (Mandy Moore, Claire Holt) on a Mexican vacation find themselves trapped underwater in a broken shark cage with dwindling oxygen reserves. (Always check your winches, folks.) The first hour is a fine exercise in mounting tension, as Moore and Holt’s sisterly bond starts to fracture under pressure both literal and figurative. But then Roberts and his co-writer reach for a big twist that just doesn’t work at all. A sequel has been announced, called 48 Meters Down. I have some questions. On Netflix.
Quint’s monologue about surviving the U.S.S. Indianapolis is one of the best moments in Jaws – and it’s drawn from actual events, so of course someone would see it and decide to expand that chilling story into its own feature. In fact, it’s happened twice: once in 1991, with the TV movie Mission Of The Shark, and again in 2016 with USS Indianapolis: Men Of Courage. The former stars Stacy Keach the latter, Nicolas Cage. Somehow neither film comes even close to recapturing the power of Robert Shaw speaking softly for five minutes.
Sara Paxton looks into the jaws of death in Shark Night 3D.
Yes, LL Cool J’s amazing Deepest, Bluest (My Hat Is Like A Shark’s Fin) is the best capper to a movie about superintelligent sharks, but only David R. Ellis’s Shark Night 3D had the stones to let its stars (including Dustin Milligan, Sara Paxton and David Foster’s future fiancée, Katharine McPhee) record a ridiculous gangsta-rap song and stick it on the end of the movie. We talked about it at the time and everything! On Netflix.
Yes, really. In perhaps the biggest stretch of any shark movie, a tsunami traps a bunch of people (including Twilight’s Xavier Samuel) in the flooded aisles of an Australian supermarket with a hungry shark in Kimble Rendall’s Bait, a 3D production that really doesn’t deserve any further consideration, even with Highlander director Russell Mulcahy’s name on the screenplay. It doesn’t even have a music video!
Oh, bite me.