The Meg Movie Review

There’s not a whole lot to add to the finned villain genre some 43 years after Jaws, but The Meg tries to do so in the form of size. The title refers to a megalodon. That’s a creature long thought to be extinct. It’s so big that it can eat normal sharks as a light snack. Size matters in this movie. We actually have two gargantuan megs that a crew must contend with. The human group of potential chum is led by Jason Statham, his massive biceps, and that voice that sounds as if he gargles gravel.

Statham plays Jonas and he’s still reeling from an incident five years ago in which he lost a group of sailors on a submarine. Jonas is convinced that an unknown and large ocean dweller caused that tragedy. As a side note, it’s interesting that the screenplay portrays him as despondent over that loss. Other characters later on seem to develop a process of rapid grieving for people they actually know.

Yet we don’t watch these pictures for lessons on dealing with death. We watch to see inventive ways for it to happen. Jonas is lured back into the water when his ex-wife (Jessica McNamee) and her mates are trapped deep underwater with that big fish lurking. She’s an employee of Mana One, a cool looking research facility looking for new species. The corporation is headed by an eccentric (is there any other kind?) billionaire played by Rainn Wilson. Li Bingbing is an oceanographer with a precocious young daughter who also serves as Jonas’s immediate love interest. Recognizable faces like Cliff Curtis and Ruby Rose are also along for the ride.

The Meg never quite develops a satisfying identity. The PG-13 rating eliminates the opportunity for gory delights. There’s winking humor and even some of it lands. And there’s also dramatic moments that seem to want to be taken seriously. It spills its creative guts early on and essentially repeats itself. A third act that finally lets the monster expose himself to the beach going masses feels truncated.

Statham throws himself into the role and it’s admirable. We do see a couple of man vs. beast exchanges that I hadn’t seen before. However, this doesn’t rise to the level of genuine guilty pleasure or generate enough suspense, humor, or horror. They’re too infrequent to completely excuse the sizable gaps of mediocrity.

** (out of four)

The Meg Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (08/08/18): On the eve of its premiere, I am bumping my estimate up from $19.7 million to $22.7 million

The second weekend of August is one that Warner Bros hopes is their Shark Week when The Meg opens. Focused on a group of scientists tracking a 75-foot creature sporting massive jaws, the film stars Jason Statham, Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose, Winston Chao, and Cliff Curtis. Jon Turteltaub, whose had a lengthy directorial career including the National Treasure pics, is behind the camera.

Other than the giant shark itself, the most eye-popping thing about The Meg is its reported $150 million budget. This is an American/Chinese co-production and it better hope for generous earnings overseas.

As for its stateside expectations, it can be dangerous to underestimate audiences shark love. Two summers ago, The Shallows debuted to a better than anticipated $16.8 million. Last summer, 47 Meters Down (which was originally slated for a TV premiere) took in $11.2 million for its start.

There’s always breakout potential in this genre, but I’m looking at The Meg managing to hit Shallows numbers and a bit more.

The Meg opening weekend prediction: $22.7 million

For my Slender Man prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/07/31/slender-man-box-office-prediction/

For my Dog Days prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/07/31/dog-days-box-office-prediction/

For my BlacKkKlansman prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/08/03/blackkklansman-box-office-prediction/

Pitch Perfect 3 Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (12/20/17): I am revising my PP3 estimate from $40.6 million for the four-day to $33.6 million.

The Bellas are back for the holidays as Pitch Perfect 3 hits theaters next Friday. Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Alexis Knapp, and Hana Mae Lee are among returnees alongside Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins. Newcomers to the series include Ruby Rose and John Lithgow. Trish Sie directs.

The 2012 original was a sleeper hit which grossed $65 million and then became more of a sensation once it became available for home viewing. The summer 2015 sequel shocked all prognosticators with a $69 million opening weekend (topping its predecessor’s entire domestic run) and $184 million overall.

It’s no surprise therefore that Universal Pictures wanted a third helping of accapella comedy. Two and a half years later, Pitch 3 faces competition even in its own musical genre with Hugh Jackman’s The Greatest Showman debuting two days prior. That said, the Bellas appear to have a built-in audience and it could be dangerous to underestimate them.

I still believe Pitch 2 could turn out to be the high water mark in the franchise. A debut in the low to mid 40s would probably put part 3 in the #3 spot behind the second weekend of Star Wars and the first for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. Yet with its reported smallish budget of $45 million, that should still be music to the studio’s ears.

Pitch Perfect 3 opening weekend prediction: $33.6 million (Friday to Monday estimate)

For my Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/12/11/jumanji-welcome-to-the-jungle-box-office-prediction/

For my The Greatest Showman prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/12/12/the-greatest-showman-box-office-prediction/

For my Downsizing prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/12/13/downsizing-box-office-prediction/

For my Father Figures prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/12/14/father-figures-box-office-prediction/

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Unlike its surprise hit predecessor, no animals are harmed in the duration of John Wick: Chapter 2. However, dozens and dozens of other miscellaneous henchmen are. Especially their heads, which is a specialty of our title character to turn them into squib fodder.

2014’s John Wick gave our retired assassin (Keanu Reeves) a decent reason to use his killing skills. His dying wife gave him a dog as a gift and bad guys disposed of it (they also stole his sweet ride). This led to a shoot-em-up extravaganza that served as a comeback role for Reeves and one of the more distinctive action titles in a while. Directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch fashioned an ultra stylish, ultra violent, and occasionally ultra inventive experience. The first Wick burned with an intense, brooding and often humorous showcase for its star. Yet it also began building a world gleefully not grounded anywhere in reality that let the creative juices of screenwriter Derek Kolstad run free. This was especially evident in scenes at The Continental Hotel in New York City, a fancy establishment reserved for nefarious types who make their living from offing others.

It was time spent at that hotel that gave John Wick an air of something new and creative and it turns out there’s a Continental in Rome as well. That’s where the majority of the carnage here takes place. The sequel picks up right after the events of the original as Wick wraps up his business from the previous outing. He’s ready to go back to retirement with his new unnamed canine companion when an Italian baddie (Riccardo Scamarcio) visits his home. It turns out Wick made a deal with him some time ago to accept any job with no questions asked. Our villain’s task is to kill his sister so he can elevate his crime boss status and that brings Wick to Rome with an arsenal.

What follows is a lot of what we saw in the original – grandly choreographed sequences in which Wick uses his talents. This could run the risk of becoming redundant. There’s only so many ways of killing villains, but I’ll be damned if Wick doesn’t find some fascinating ways to do it. Still, it’s the little touches that make chapters 1 and 2 special from time to time.

For instance, I love the idea of an old school telephone company setting where the women working in the office look like goth versions of tellers from the 1950s. Their job is to pass along information when a hit is ordered (of which John is certainly subject to). I found myself interested in all the rules that the film’s enormous supply of assassins must abide by and the hints of larger syndicates. Some of those new professionals include Common (whose fights scenes with Wick are a highlight) and Ruby Rose as a mute vixen who hurls insults through sign language. Laurence Fishburne pops up as an underground (literally) crime leader whose group will probably play a larger role in the inevitable sequel.

While Wick’s motivations in this chapter aren’t quite as rage inducing as his departed pup, Chapter 2 recognizes the unique qualities that put chapter 1 above your typical genre material. Thankfully it keeps it at a level where I’m curious what the next chapter brings beyond the limitless supply of mercenaries whose cranial areas will be irreparably harmed.

*** (out of four)

John Wick: Chapter 2 Box Office Prediction

In the fall of 2014, stylish action thriller John Wick exceeded box office expectations with it earned $14 million in its opening weekend and $43 million overall domestically. Since then, its cult status has grown and now Chapter 2 unfolds in theaters next weekend. Keanu Reeves returns in the title role and Chad Stahelski is back behind the camera. The sequel reunites Keanu with his Matrix costar Laurence Fishburne. Other supporting cast includes Common, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, and Ruby Rose (appearing in her third 2017 pic after January’s xXx: Return of Xander Cage and Resident Evil: The Final Chapter).

Wick is debuting alongside two other sequels and spin-offs in the second weekend of February as The Lego Batman Movie and Fifty Shades Darker also premiere. There’s little doubt that this will place third among them, but I still look for it to eclipse the opening number of its predecessor.

I’ll forecast that Chapter 2 manages a high teens to low 20s rollout.

John Wick: Chapter 2 opening weekend prediction: $20.7 million

For my The Lego Batman Movie prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/02/02/the-lego-batman-movie-box-office-prediction/

For my Fifty Shades Darker prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/02/01/fifty-shades-darker-box-office-prediction/

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter Box Office Prediction

The sixth (and apparently last judging by the title) franchise entry in a nearly decade and a half series, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter opens next weekend. Stemming from the Capcom video game which premiered nearly 20 years ago, Evil brings back Milla Jovovich as heroine Alice with a supporting cast that includes Ali Larter, Shawn Roberts, Ruby Rose (she’s costarring in another just out sequel xXx: Return of Xander Cage), and Iain Glen. Paul W.S. Anderson (not as you may suspect, the guy who did Boogie Nights and There Will Be Blood), directs his fourth Resident feature.

The latest blend of action and horror in this franchise has seen its longest lay-off in between pictures. That’s a trait recently shared by Underworld: Blood Wars, which came out earlier this month and posted a series low. The Evil pics have all opened in the high teens to mid 20s range. Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we?

Resident Evil (2002): $17.7 million opening

Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004): $23 million

Resident Evil: Extinction (2007): $23.6 million

Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010): $26.6 million

Resident Evil: Retribution (2012): $21 million

As you can see, the previous longest gap was three years and this one has been five. As with the aforementioned Underworld, that might mean a lower opening than the series has witnessed thus far. Blood Wars managed just $13.6 million out of the gate while the four preceding it all made over $20M.

My guess is that this will suffer a very similar final fate and a gross in the low to mid teens range.

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter opening weekend prediction: $14.6 million

For my A Dog’s Purpose prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/18/a-dogs-purpose-box-office-prediction/

For my Gold prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/18/gold-box-office-prediction/

xXx: Return of Xander Cage Box Office Prediction

Lest ye forget, the Fast and Furious series isn’t the only franchise that Vin Diesel has been a part of and I’m not talking about Riddick or Guardians of the Galaxy. Next weekend, Mr. Diesel returns in the title role of xXx: Return of Xander Cage. 

In 2002, the star (hot off the first Fast feature) headlined summer action blockbuster xXx, which opened to $44 million with an eventual $142M domestic haul. Yet, just like the first Furious sequel, he decided to sit out the follow-up, xXx: State of the Union which featured Ice Cube instead. That one didn’t fare so well with just a $12 million debut and $26M overall gross.

Cage finds D.J. Caruso taking over the directorial duties with a supporting cast that includes Samuel L. Jackson, Donnie Yen, Toni Collette, Ruby Rose, Deepika Padukone, Nina Dobrev, and Tony Jaa. The question is: will moviegoers return to the super spy action series nearly 15 years after the original?

The answer: to an extent. Diesel has obviously gotten max exposure in recent years with the well-received Furious extravaganzas. There is the cautionary tale of 2015’s The Last Witch Hunter, which he hoped would turn into a franchise but sputtered with just $27 million domestically. xXx may earn that and then some in its first weekend of release. I’ve got it pegged in the mid to high 20s and even though that’s not reaching what the first Cage opus made a decade and a half ago, it’s OK.

xXx: Return of Xander Cage opening weekend prediction: $25.4 million

For my Split prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/10/split-box-office-prediction/

For my The Founder prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/11/the-founder-box-office-prediction/

For my 20th Century Women prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/12/20th-century-women-box-office-prediction/

For my The Resurrection of Gavin Stone prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/12/the-resurrection-of-gavin-stone-box-office-prediction/