FlixChatter Review – The Meg (2018)

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The Meg, short for “megalodon,” refers to a massive prehistoric shark dwelling below what scientists initially believed to be the ocean floor. When a team of explorers is trapped in their submarine and at the mercy of the enormous creature, it’s up to disgraced deep-sea rescue diver Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) to save them.

On a scale of Jaws to Sharknado, this movie is closer to the latter half. The acting quality is mixed. Leading man Statham is pretty much what you would expect. We see his abs. We have trouble understanding what he says in his gravelly voice and thick British accent. He gives a fun performance, if not necessarily memorable. Bingbing Li is a great leading lady as Suyin; she gives a genuine, dynamic, likable perfomance. The supporting cast is mostly decent, especially the delightful Page Kennedy as DJ, who has some solid comedic timing, but Ruby Rose as Jaxx is painfully boring; she’s always cast as the sarcastic cool girl and gives the same one-note performance every time, and this role is no exception. The one time she has to show any real emotion is embarrassingly bad; she has the least convincing “crying” face I have ever seen.

The movie is also a mess writing-wise, mostly due to sloppy pacing. At first it seems like the focus will be on rescuing the trio (Jessica McNamee as Lori, Masi Oka as Toshi, and Olafur Darri Olafsson as The Wall), but that is resolved surprisingly quickly and the focus shifts to finding and killing the shark, which you think will be the focus for the rest of the movie, but then (spoiler warning: highlight to read) they kill it barely over halfway through the movie only to discover there’s a second meg!

It’s a pretty lame twist to begin with, but to introduce it so far from the ending is extra weird. It would have been more effective if they had made the rescue mission at the beginning longer; not only does spending more time in the isolated setting make the conflict more suspenseful, but making it longer would help balance the “hunt and kill” portion of the story.

All that said, The Meg is visually impressive. The CGI is excellent and believable, thanks in large part to mostly showing the shark in quick, brief shots or extremely close up or in shadowy underwater shots, so it’s easy to forget it’s computer-animated. The deep sea environment is beautifully haunting and imaginative without feeling unrealistic. While releasing so many feature films in IMAX often feels overdone, it’s absolutely warranted in this case, because the visuals are so much more breathtaking.

While The Meg is by no means a brilliant movie, it’s still a cool one to see on the big screen. If you enjoy cheesy action flicks and well-done CGI, you’ll like this one.

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Have you seen ‘The Meg’? Well, what did you think? 

FlixChatter Review – Pitch Perfect 3 (2017)

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Directed By: Trish Sie
Written By: Kay Cannon, Mike White based on the book by Mickey Rapkin
Runtime: 1h 33min

I’ve had mixed feelings on the Pitch Perfect movies. As a choir nerd, I appreciate the music. As a film fan, I’ve been unimpressed with the writing, finding the plots forgettable and the comedy (with a few exceptions) underwhelming. I didn’t go into this movie expecting to hate it, but I didn’t think I’d like it any better than the first two.

In Pitch Perfect 3, we see the Barden Bellas a couple years out of college, struggling to find their places outside of the world of competetive a capella. At a performance of the younger Bellas (led by Hailee Steinfeld‘s Emily), the group decides to participate in the U.S.O.’s annual European musical tour and relive their glory days. Once there, they discover that they will be competing against three other musical groups for a coveted spot opening for DJ Khaled at the tour’s final performance- and, for the first time, they will be competing against musicians who use instruments.

While the third installment isn’t by any means a brilliant movie, I was still pleasantly surprised, mostly by how much the cast has improved. Individually, there are plenty of talented members, but I never felt like the girls had any real chemistry until now. They genuinely seem like a good group of friends and their quirky personalities mesh surprisingly well. While they all give solid acting performances, the stand-outs for me are Hana Mae Lee as Lilly and Rebel Wilson as Fat Amy. Lee’s delightfully weird Lilly barely has any lines, and the few she does have are barely audible, but her physical comedy is on point. Wilson’s performance in the first two movies underwhelmed me, but I think that’s more the writers’ fault than hers; the majority of her “funny” lines were about her weight, and that much one-note humor is really only good for a few trailer highlights; it’s not enough to support a whole film. However, they give her a little more to work with in this film, and it shows; while she still shines comedically, she has a few more dramatic moments that show a more serious, sincere side of her, and she handles it incredibly well.

Despite the stronger acting, however, the writing still struggles a bit in this movie. It’s unsurprising that the story centers around a singing competition again-they’re a competetive a capella group- but the way the musicians the Bellas are competing against aren’t very well-handled. At first, it seems like they’re being set up to become friends (or, at least, not enemies) with the Bellas, when the three other acts (Saddle Up, DJ Dragon Nutz, and Evermoist-led by Ruby Rose‘s Calamity) all start performing together during their riff-off against the Bellas, implying that it’s more fun to sing together than to sing against each other. However, they quickly fall into the catty, condescending competitor trope pretty quickly afterwards. The fact that, past the riff-off and the first concert, we never see them perform again, makes this tense competition lose some of its edge as well. It’s a shame, because while the Bella’s numbers are all well-done, it would have been fun to hear more of the other groups than just the couple numbers at the beginning.

There’s also this weird B-plot involving Amy and her supposedly-reformed criminal father (played by John Lithgow doing a pretty awful Australian accent) in an attempt to add a little action to the movie, and while some of it is entertaining (especially this Mission Impossible-esque scene of Amy sneaking through a yacht), it doesn’t fit the tone of the film or the series as a whole. Its inclusion kind of reminded me of the Spice World, but with less commitment to the ridiculousness. It’s a change from the other movies’ formula, but that’s not necessarily a good thing.

The biggest problem is that, while it feels like all of the Bellas get more equal focus than they have in the previous two, the script tries to fit in too many individual backstories and conflicts in one movie, leading to clunky exposition and shoehorned-in resolutions-some, like Anna Camp‘s Aubrey, not even wrapped up until after the credits start rolling. I admire that they’re trying to add a little more dimension to the characters, but the movie isn’t well-paced enough to do so.

Despite all of this, Pitch Perfect 3 might be my favorite of the series, thanks largely to, of course, the music. As usual, the soundtrack is as fun, pretty, and polished as the Bellas’ costumes, hair, and makeup (seriously, I want to invest in a few sparkly dresses after seeing the wardrobe in this movie). While all of the performers are capable singers, Anna Kendrick as Beca especially shines with her clear, bright tone, and is given plenty of opportunities to do so. And as talented as the Bellas are, the musical highlight for me is the “Riff-Off” mash-up with the other bands, showcasing and blending the musicians’ different styles in a creative arrangement.

If you’re not a musical fan, you may want to skip this, but if you enjoyed the first two, you’ll definitely like this one. The acting is strong, more jokes land than in the first two, and the soundtrack is fantastic. The final installment of Pitch Perfect 3 certainly ends on a high note.

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Have you seen ‘Pitch Perfect 3’? Well, what did you think?