Fans of monster movies were excited to hear that Ben Wheatley would be directing Meg 2: The Trench. Known for his work on Kill List, it was a perfect fit for him to take on a film featuring Jason Statham fighting giant prehistoric sharks. As the Sickos meme says, “YES… HA HA HA… YES!” The trailer looked promising and this could be just what the franchise needed, especially since even the director of the first Meg, Jon Turteltaub, expressed disappointment with the lack of gore in the first film. In an interview with bloodydisgusting.com, he revealed that there were many gruesome deaths planned that unfortunately didn’t make it into the final cut.
The audience demand for The Meg was a family-friendly movie with a PG or 12A rating, as it was a co-production between the US and China, where gore is not well-received by censors. Similarly, the upcoming sequel, Meg 2: The Trench, is also a collaboration between the two countries and is geared towards a family audience. However, it contains even less violence than the first film, with only a minor amount shown towards the end.
No one was anticipating the same level of destruction as seen in Piranha 3D, although it would have been enjoyable. The lack of violence in Meg 2 is not its biggest problem; rather, it is the underdeveloped characters and hectic editing that make it difficult to identify the victims and their killer, especially when they are all struggling in underwater suits.
By chance, a 30th-anniversary version of one of the greatest monster movies has been released. While it may not be fair to compare Meg 2 to Jurassic Park (which came out in 1993), it serves as a reminder that Steven Spielberg has been adding gruesome elements from EC horror comics into family-friendly films since Jaws in 1975.
Steven Spielberg’s dinosaur movie is a prime example of skillfully orchestrated deaths of minor characters, including a selfish employee whose actions put everyone at risk of being killed by a Dilophosaurus (hilariously ironic!) or a lawyer hiding on the toilet who becomes food for a T rex. We are made to feel a slight tinge of sadness for the deaths of the game warden who admires the raptors’ tactics (“Clever girl!”) or the chain-smoking engineer who is gruesomely killed offscreen, only to have his severed arm used as a shocking reveal.
After four years, Spielberg took on the task of directing The Lost World: Jurassic Park, the franchise’s first sequel. The film, much like its predecessor, is filled with expertly crafted set-pieces. In a daring attempt to rescue others, engineer Eddie refuses to give up and ultimately makes a Noble Sacrifice, torn apart by Mr. and Mrs. T rex. A sadistic hunter also meets his deserved fate, being nibbled to death by Compsognathuses. It is at this moment that Spielberg introduces dark humor, with scenes such as a squashed corpse stuck to a T rex’s foot and the death of screenwriter David Koepp, who is humorously credited as “Unlucky Bastard” in the film’s credits.
There has been a change in the meantime. The outcome of Zara in Colin Trevorrow’s 2015 film Jurassic World, taken by a Pteradon and consumed by a Mosasaurus, is harsh rather than amusing. And just as she was preparing for her wedding! I believe most viewers would have rather seen the mischievous children she was watching over be eaten instead. Unfortunately, while children can be put in danger, they are not allowed to be used as dinosaur food.
It is contradictory that as computer effects have become more advanced, the creatures they create seem less realistic. However, if you can demonstrate precise timing with a touch of irony and creativity, even when the monsters appear as weightless animations, memorable scenes such as Samuel L Jackson’s sudden death by a shark during a defiant speech in Deep Blue Sea or Shea Whigham’s failed Noble Sacrifice while trying to defeat a skullcrawler in Kong: Skull Island, will continue to be remembered long after the popularity of Meg movies has faded away.