The Meg vs Jason Statham is the silly shark fight you hoped for
Review: The Stath vs a huge prehistoric monster shark: one's the toughest creature in the ocean, and the other's a shark.
Richard TrenholmFormer Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
And now, if we're very quiet, and we make no sudden moves, we might get a glimpse of one of the natural world's most singular creatures ... yes, yes, there it is: the Stath!
In new nature documentary The Meg, we get a fantastic look at the Stath, better known by its full name, the Gravel-Throated Wide-Chested Asskicker, or, by its Latin name, Jason Statham.
The Stath has been captured on film before, and this ocean-based documentary adds little new to the scientific field of Stathamology. However, it's always exciting to see this most enticing of creatures up close.
Directed by Jon Turteltaub, The Meg is based on the natural history textbook of the same name by Steve Alten. The film focuses primarily on Megalodon, a giant prehistoric predator long thought extinct, which rises from the deepest reaches of the ocean to threaten mankind. Utilising pioneering camera techniques, the documentary weaves an enjoyable narrative around the underwater encounters between Megalodon and Statham, leaving nature-lovers thrilled and entertained.
Dwarfing the jaws of modern-day sharks, Megalodon proves unafraid of man, attacking submarines and underwater research stations. High-tech submersibles are no match for the oversized predator. However, Gravel-Throated Wide-Chested Asskicker is a territorial creature that resists Megalodon's predatory advances in order to protect weaker creatures.
Pleasingly, the documentary-makers capture great footage of the Stath in various seafaring settings, showing off its skills at swimming, fighting and communicating with others, sometimes all at the same time. Stath-watchers will no doubt be amused and delighted by numerous examples of the Stath's distinctive cry, a barked one-liner usually delivered with a signature deadpan squint.
Neither Stath nor Megalodon are shy creatures, which means the documentary favours action-packed set pieces over scary suspense. Nature lovers will no doubt be astonished by the sheer scale of the giant prehistoric shark, which would appear to be no match for the much smaller likes of the Stath. However, even a monster as big as Megalodon would be wise not to confront the Stath, which when aroused is capable of seeing off predators both on land and sea. When threatened, the Stath adopts highly potent defensive tactics, such as growling and taking off its shirt.
These tactics have the happy secondary effect of attracting potential mates, which are drawn to the Stath's crag-like jaw, highly-developed shoulders and manly musk. Part of the attraction is the Stath doesn't feel threatened by strong females, allowing itself to be assisted in the battle against the Meg by capable females of the species, Li Bingbing and Ruby Rose.
As with many strong organisms, the Stath also attracts other creatures. In this case, Rainn Wilson provides several moments of levity. Each of the other creatures featured play their part in the delicate ecosystem, although viewers may tire of the antics of some of the lesser organisms. Fortunately, the Stath remains the star of the show.
An entertaining, amusing and educational glimpse into the wonders of both the natural world and the Stath, The Meg splashes into the UK and US on 10 August.
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