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Fish Out of Water
Author Steve Alten tried for a decade to see his novel Meg translated to the screen. Sadly, it ended up like this. The Meg is a mess, dull at its worst, impossibly stupid at its best. The Meg’s generic too, with the exploitative, eccentric billionaire trying to contain a 70-foot shark. Jason Statham stars, trying to wrangle this mega fish while the audience waits for the thing to do… well, anything. Meg is desperate for a dose of violence, because that’s what put audiences in their seats. It never comes.
Video (4K UHD)
This is not pretty. Meg is rife with problems on UHD. The worst of it? Contrast. Meg’s Dolby Vision presentation is so absurdly blown out, clipping becomes a severe issue. Exterior scenes bake the characters in such sunlight, detail wipes clean. Everything looks unnaturally smooth, and so washed out, black levels tank. Other than a handful of scenes inside small submersibles, black levels don’t even exist. True black? Not here.
And color? Meg is set to “80s neon.” Flesh tones glow as if a translucent peach Crayola. The key final attack near a beach bleeds fluorescent colors from the various swimming devices. Those all blend with the overactive contrast, creating a mass lacking in definition. Imagery clumps together.
This zaps the natural energy of the HDR pass. Other than the memorable trailer sequence where Meiying (Shuya Sophia Cai) first encounters the shark, no scene offers bite in terms of standout highlights. Instead, the entire movie is blindingly bright, to a point of being uncomfortable. That ugly, misfiring contrast is made worse when attached to the high lumens levels.
Oh, and noise problems introduce themselves too. Granted, Warner’s encode is enough to keep things in check (and the lack of banding is notable), but it’s a distraction to move from one scene of total clarity into another buzzing with digital noise. The lack of true black doesn’t help, as darker portions of the frame invite additional related problems.
Meg comes from a digital 2K finish. Detail is passable when visible, assuming contrast didn’t eat more of the scene than the shark. Facial definition does stick out in spots and despite the murkiness of underwater scenery, it’s possible to make out texture on the ocean surface and the meg. While that’s great, the overall quality is absurdly poor.
Without the HDR pass, Meg becomes a little more manageable. While contrast is still calibrated too high, sans a blinding Dolby Vision treatment, it’s tolerable. Issues of clipping remain, and black levels don’t reach their potential, but the washed out quality is reduced on Blu-ray.
Color looks in control too, lacking the hyper-neon appearance of the UHD. Flesh tones appear gaudy, but dodging the glowing attribute. Compare too the final attack on the swimmers. Bright pinks and blues reign in to a slightly exaggerated reality rather than attempting to burn retinas.
Presented in Dolby Atmos (with a default of DTS-HD), the surround use of Meg is award worthy. The mass of underwater action keeps a consistent level of activity rushing around the soundstage. From the interior of subs and other submersible vehicles, attacks by the shark lock in, using the full width available to this mix. Panic on the ocean’s surface sends small splashes of water outward, landing in the rears. Meg is a track built on total perfectionism.
But it fumbles when asked to produce low-end power. LFE support lags, giving jolts, without the strength expected for a movie at this scale. The best stuff comes during a depth charge assault, the beefiest moment in a movie about 75-foot shark. As it moves through the water, thrust generates a little bump, if not enough to match visual scale.
Chomp on This runs 12-minutes with nice production values, led by director John Turtletaub. It covers the basics, but it’s primarily studio fluff. So too is Designing the Beast, 10-minutes, peeking at the team’s insistence on making their monster look distinct. A short commercial for the New Zealand Film Commission is last with an awfully small potential customer base.
Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.
The Meg fails to deliver the basic essentials of the shark movie and doesn’t attempt anything radical to subvert the sub-genre either.
User Review( votes)
The 15 unaltered images below represent the Blu-ray. For an additional 29 Meg screenshots, early access to all screens (plus the 18,000+ already in our library), 50+ exclusive 4K UHD reviews, and more, support us on Patreon.
The following six screen shots serve as samples for our Patreon-exclusive set of 43 full 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: