Reel Reviews: End of summer blockbusters

By on August 15, 2018

‘The Meg’

It’s proven to be a good summer for the movie industry. The slump that grew for weeks over winter and spring is officially over, and for many of us, so is summer. But, theaters are not going out without a bang — and a bite.

In the tradition of “Jaws,” Warner Bros. presents “The Meg,” short for Megalodon, a prehistoric and extinct species of giant shark. Except, in “The Meg” the creature is not extinct, and when deep sea explorers open a fissure to an undiscovered ocean depth, the massive killing machine is let loose on the inhabitants of Earth.

Tracking and killing this beast falls on the shoulders of Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham), a rescue diver who teams up with scientist Suyin (Bingbing Li), her father Zhang (Winston Chao), engineers Jaxx (Ruby Rose) and DJ (Page Kennedy), pointman Mac (Cliff Curtis), and medical expert Heller (Robert Taylor). The crew must find a way to stop (spoiler!) not one, but two, Megalodons as billionaire entrepreneur Morris (Rainn Wilson, TV’s “The Office”) finds a way to cut his losses.

Honestly, and surprisingly, there is more to the storyline than I have summarized. Many more ancillary characters are involved in this fish hunt. But, seriously, are we going to see “The Meg” for a good backstory? I wanted to see how many people this giant shark would eat (I lost count) and if there were any references to the classic summer thriller “Jaws.” It turns out there are a few, but I won’t spoil it for those who did not get to see “The Meg” during its opening week.

What do you get when you mix “Jurassic Park” and “Jaws?” The answer just might be “The Meg.” Based on the 1997 novel “Meg,” by Steve Alten, this film about a giant, prehistoric shark is taking a chomp out of the box office.

‘Mission: Impossible ­– Fallout’

While a summer shark movie felled the latest flick in the Mission: Impossible franchise from first place at the box office, it still shows Tom Cruise has star power. Dropping to number two in its third week, “Mission: Impossible ­ Fallout” continues the story of superspy Ethan Hunt (Cruise) who we first met (in this incarnation) back in 1996.

In “Fallout,” Hunt is once again up against incredible odds and, much like the first film, has become the patsy in a multi-layered plot filled with deception and death.

Cruise is joined by his regular cast of comrades Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg). The crew comes up against a group called The Apostles who are bent on nuclear destruction to create a new world order.

“There cannot be peace without first, a great suffering. The greater the suffering, the greater the peace.” – Solomon Lane (Sean Harris, “Mission: Impossible ­ Rogue Nation”)

I’ve realized the Mission: Impossible movies are simply forgettable. They’re fun, but for the most part I don’t really remember the storyline from one film to another, and neither do the people I’ve talked with about this movie over the weekend.

As a refresher, prior to seeing this latest installment I revisited the original movie. Some things are consistent: there’s a serious chase scene (or two); action drives the film; and they are cheesy.

It’s okay that they are cheesy. Just like “The Meg,” if a movie is going to be cheesy it needs to fully embrace the fromage, otherwise no one can take seriously the level of absurdity, and fans become disengaged. “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” does enough to be hokey to help suspend our disbelief and keep us on the edge of our seats as we untangle the web of espionage in front of us.

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