An increasingly popular way for reviewers to critique movies these days, especially those aimed at being big summer blockbusters, is to concentrate first on whether the film is going to “earn out” as well as expected against their budgets (often outrageously high due to more and more dependency on CGI special effects). After that comes an examination of the movie itself -- how good it is, how close it came to doing what it set out to do, how entertaining it is or isn't. (And if the money-making potential isn't there, then the reviews tend to be more negative [though such an admission/claim is never openly made]).
Seems like a sort of ass-backwards approach to me. I say, review the damn movie and let the box office do what it may – and not be adversely affected by poor reviews (or vice versa).
Okay, that little rant aside, let me get to THE MEG – which I enjoyed the heck out of, no matter what its budget (though I suspect it was pretty hefty due to the special effects). The latter did not overwhelm the film, however. They were necessary to the story and they were well done. Period. But at the core of the story, amidst all the undersea and on-the-sea action involved in fighting the giant prehistoric terror from the deep, there are people relating to one another in various and interesting ways. There is humor, lots of it stemming from the kind of banter that happens within a group of people who work together and face stress together, there is a bit of romance, some guilt and blame passed back and forth, some heroics and betrayal ... and all the while there is the menace of the megaladon shark, risen from the depths and angry and hungry as hell.
Jason Statham turns in another solid job as a slightly flawed action hero, and even gets a chance to flex his acting chops a bit. (Calm down, I said “a bit” - I'm not calling him the next deNiro [as if anybody'd want to be anymore] or Olivier or anything like that.) A Chinese actress named Li Bingbing at first comes across as merely a pretty scientist type (like we saw dozens of back in all those 1950s horror/sci-fi flicks) but then progresses to become a very appealing female lead, in contrast to other more flamboyant actresses in the cast. The rest of the cast in general is quite good, including a little 8-yr-old charmer named Shuya Cai, as Li Bingbing's daughter, who steals every scene she's in (and whose presence in the film's storyline is fine and natural, as opposed to “the little girl in peril” stupidly injected into the most recent, highly disappointing JURASSIC WORLD entry).
All in all, if you're looking for a well done, balls-out, high-energy summer popcorn flick, THE MEG – in my humble opinion – delivers the goods.