In 2018, The Meg was a surprise hit monster movie. In what could have been just another B-level Jason Statham action movie, Jon Turtltaub created a fun movie that saw Statham battle a giant prehistoric megalodon released from the depths of the ocean. While it didn’t receive great critical reviews, it still made $530 million at the box office and proved that critics are not always right.
For my part, I loved the first Meg movie. In my The Meg review, I wrote, “Don’t expect the next Jaws. Expect the next Lake Placid but with a 65-foot prehistoric shark in a no-holds-barred match with Jason Statham. In that area, it is a rousing success.“
That made it exciting to hear that a sequel was coming. The first Meg was based on the novel by Steve Alten and the sequel was called Meg 2: The Trench, which was also the name of the sequel novel. Just like the novel, the movie sequel was based on a baby Megalodon raised in captivity. As expected, things do not go well when anyone tries to keep a monster as a pet.
The movie does make some changes from the book and, sadly, it makes for a lesser movie. The sequel book was a lot like the original movie, with Man vs Monster and Jonas and the humans battling to stop the Megalodons from killing countless people by reaching populated waterways. Instead, Meg: The Trench spends most of its running time having Jonas and his allies battle human enemies. This takes the focus off what should have been spotlighted – the three Megalodons, a bunch of Snappers, and a Kraken.
Honestly, that last sentence shows what would have made this an incredible movie that even trumped the first Meg. What was disappointing was that new director Ben Wheatley decided to focus on a group of mercenaries and a traitor who betrays Mac and the team now led by Jiuming, Suyin’s brother who is now running Mana One since his sister died. The movie never sees it important enough to explain how Suyin died – only that Jonas is now the legal guardian/parent of Meiying (who is still played by Shuya Sophia Cai).
This group is led by an evil billionaire who just wants to ravage the trench to make money, and the mercenaries are mostly nameless goons there for Jonas and his friends to eliminate – or at least the ones that aren’t killed by the monsters. By the time Jonas battles the three Megolodons and Kraken, the battle is a lot less interesting and just flies by. There are no great plans or attempts to figure out how to beat the monsters. Instead, they just go in with explosives and attack them head-on in one climactic battle.
The only part of the movie that matters is the final battle. Jonas opened the movie attacking people polluting the oceans and this is not the character from the first movie that fans fell in love with. Really, the only person who makes it in this movie anywhere similar to the characters from the first movie is Mac, who is still great with Cliff Curtis back a second time. Meiying is also a wonderful character. Jonas is still fun to watch in action, but this is a very different movie from the original – and that is not a good thing.
Anyone who wanted to see a monster movie similar to The Meg won’t get that with The Trench. That is a huge disappointment. I wanted more of the same and got something very different and lesser as a result.