This is no way to run a movie theater

I was alone. Totally alone in the dark. Well, sure, there was the ticket-taker and the refreshment bar person, but they sent me off into the darkness by myself; the ticket-taker looked mildly surprised, and said, “I didn’t expect you here. Are you here for the science?” He shook his head as he pointed to the doors to my screen.

I went in. I had my choice of seats. The theater was completely empty. I got the best seat in the house, and sat and wondered where everyone was. Both screens were totally abandoned, the theater was dead silent, even the popcorn machine was turned off. I waited, and the movie started.

“The Cretaceous,” a title card announced. We see a scene of a beach, with some kind of shredded dinosaur carcass rotting, while a swarm of weird-looking reptiles with long needle-like fangs and long sinuous bodies squabble over it. Suddenly, a T. rex appears! It charges, eats a few fang-beasts, and the rest leap into the ocean and swim expertly away. I guess these are amphibious fang-beasts. The T. rex wades out into the ocean in pursuit, when…suddenly, a giant shark appears! It jumps onto the shore and chomps on the T. rex. I guess Megalodon’s ecological niche was cruising shallow seas near shore and occasionally leaping on to the land to ambush a dinosaur.

Title card: Meg2. Title card: The Trench.

Oh, yeah. I guess there’s no mystery why the theater was so empty.

Cut to action scene: Jason Statham has snuck onto a freighter dumping toxic waste into the ocean. He runs around taking photos, documenting the crimes — he’s an eco-warrior. Along the way, he beats up the entire crew, then leaps into the ocean and is scooped up, literally, by an airplane. This interlude has no bearing on the rest of the movie.

Cut to futuristic research station somewhere near the Philippines. They are studying the Trench, an abyssal canyon isolated from the rest of the ocean by a thermocline. It’s full of Megs. They also have a captured Megalodon swimming around in a blocked off lagoon. Don’t worry about it. This Meg will do nothing throughout the film. It’s going to escape to the open ocean shortly, but no one will care, and they’ll do nothing about it, and don’t even pay much attention to it. It’s purpose is solely for Statham to utter a throw away line, “maybe it’s pregnant,” near the end. It’s only there to justify Meg3: The Quest for More Chinese Investment Money.

The rest of the movie is a denial of physics, time, and space to set up a show about rampaging monsters on a resort island. Our main characters zoom down to the trench in some amazingly spacious submarines with gigantic picture windows everywhere. Don’t worry about them, they’re going to get wrecked in short order. There are bad guys down there, looting the sea bed for rare earth metals worth billions of dollars. The head bad guy immediately sets off explosive charges to kill Jason Statham, but incidentally kills all of his underlings, trapping all the good guys under boulders, and likewise trapping his own submarine. Don’t worry, they’re 25,000 feet under the sea, their ships are immobilized, but hull integrity is fine. They just get out through hatches and walk in their futuristic suits to the processing station the bad guys had set up.

The script writers apparently hadn’t paid any attention to the news about the Titan submersible that was crushed at a depth of 12,000 feet. They were too busy churning out schlock.

Their walk to the station is harrowing. They are pursued by the amphibious fang-beasts. They’ve been deep under the ocean all this time, holding their breaths for 65 million years! Some of the crew get eaten; we don’t care. It’s not as if they have personalities or something. We do get one brief nod to the idea of deep ocean pressure, though. One of the crew’s faceplates develops a crack that expands slowly, and then suddenly fractures as they are standing in the airlock, waiting for the water to be evacuated. Her head abruptly implodes as everyone watches.

Then air fills the chamber, and everyone removes their helmets. Everyone is fine.

The next part of the movie is Jason Statham running around the station, pushing buttons and pulling levers, like it was some kind of video game, occasionally stopping to punch the bad guy, who also made it back to the station. Statham eventually gets the right combination, freeing the station’s submarine, so all the good guys can escape. The bad guy survives, grabs some kind of steel balloon, and rides it all the way to the surface.

At the surface, they return to the good guys’ futuristic research station, only it’s been taken over by more bad guys. Cue more punching and kicking. Statham leads the survivors to a Zodiac, and they zoom away. Their destination: Fun Island, 30km away.

Oh, yeah, the Megs. We’d kind of forgotten them for most of the movie. They had also risen to the surface, without rupturing due to the extreme pressure differential, and they too are headed for Fun Island, along with a troop of fang-beasts and a giant ockapus. The end is approaching. The final part of this movie is miscellaneous monsters romping about on a resort island full of attractive young Asian women and their attractive young Asian children, and one homely middle-aged white man who is crass and rude and cowardly, who is inevitably snatched up and killed by the ockapus. Everyone is getting eaten by giant sharks and fang-beasts.

There are explosions and guns, the bad guys are eaten or blown up, the good guys kill all the monsters, Statham makes some improvised exploding harpoons and rides a jet ski out to kill Megs. When he runs out of harpoons, he picks up a rotor blade from a crashed helicopter and stabs the last Meg to death with it.

Oh wait, not the last Meg: the original captive Meg shows up, everyone says “hi,” and then swims nonchalantly off to the open ocean. The good guys camp out on the beach, drinking whisky, surrounded by the few surviving attractive Asian women. Everyone laughs.

The End.

I left the theater as the credits started to roll. Apparently, the workers there had been waiting for me to leave, because the instant I walked out the door, all the lights in the building blinked out. I guess the 9:00 showing was canceled. Sorry, guys. I’m pretty sure the $7 I spent on a ticket didn’t cover your wages for two hours of waiting for the old guy to get out.

This movie is not recommended at all, unless you feel like you missed the theatrical run of The Core and you really want to be able to brag that you witnessed one of the worst science movies of all time on the big screen.

You’ll have to tell me what you consider the worst science abuse in a movie. Meg2 is right at the top of my list.


  1. hemidactylus says

    Should I skip the original Meg then? I haven’t seen it. Never wanted to. I try to avoid Statham movies if possible.

  2. birgerjohansson says

    Oh. My. Zod.

    Wait, might this be a “so bad it is good” film?
    Invite some like-minded people and watch the film while sampling beer.

  3. mathman85 says

    I don’t know if The Meg 2: The Trench is the worst abuse of science in film ever—you did, after all, mention The Core—but I described it as “exactly as action-schlocky as one would expect from a film series with the general premise of ‘Jason Statham fights giant prehistoric sharks’”, which I think is rather à propos.

    That being said, there is always “a ray of sunlight is made of many atoms”.

  4. Snarki, child of Loki says

    Sounds like a perfect film to get the MST3K treatment, but (sob) the Satellite of Love is no more.

  5. birgerjohansson says

    Bring back Klaus Kinski from the dead and let him play a baddie, it would enliven even the worst B-film. You don’t even need to give him lines to say, just let him be his creepy self and run the camera.

  6. Rich Woods says

    Normally I’d complain about all the spoilers, but since I had absolutely no plans to watch this film anyway it would be a bit unfair to do so.

    Worst science abuse? Sunshine.

  7. hemidactylus says

    The real horror is in the theater itself, not on the screen. Recalls:

    “ [ open on theater marquee for “Escape From New York” ]

    Announcer: It’s 1981.

    [ cut to audiences sitting restlessly inside the theater ]

    Announcer: A New York theater is NOW a maximum security prison, in which audiences are FORCED to watch a SICKENING film!

    [ cut to montage of stills from the film ]

    ‘Announcer: NEVER has such mindless film EXPLODED on the screen.*

    Kurt Ruusell IS the Bore.

    Donald Pleasance IS the English Ham.

    Adrienne Bimbo IS the Director’s Wife.

    [ cut to audience members scrambling from their seats ]

    Announcer: They have 24 hours to KILL every living trace of wit and intelligence. This is the story of a crazed audience that cannot survive such a vicious onslaught of stupidity. UNLESS they…

    [ cut to title card ]

    Announcer: “Escape From Escape From New York”.

    [ cut to circular pan of the theater district ]

    Announcer: And at a theater directly next door… the ironic, bittersweet story of how a crazed audiences escaped from “Escape From New York”… ONLY to be trapped in the latest nine-hour version of a cinematic classic by Martin Scorcese:

    [ cut to theater marquee ]

    Announcer: “New York, New York”.

    Robert DeNiro IS the Mumbler.

    Liza Minnelli IS the Dog.

    Abandon all hope of waking up, UNLESS you…

    [ cut to title card ]

    Announcer: “Escape From New York, New York”.

    [ fade ]

  8. says

    I thought it was better than the first one.

    Most egregious abuse of science in s movie? There are thousands to choose from but Fast and Furious 9 has to be up there. Newton would weep way before a car sealed with duct tape docked with the ISS.

  9. Walter Solomon says

    It wasn’t too long ago that you were complaining about Marvel so, at least, the movie doesn’t have superheroes.

  10. HidariMak says

    I’ve fortunately forgotten most of it, but think that Moonfall deserves a spot among the worst science in a movie. The stupidity include near passes from the moon cancelling out the gravity on Earth, the moon being a giant alien space ship which was the original Noah’s Ark for the previous humans who lived on the planet, and the ability to slowly download a human’s mind for a virtual eternal “ghost” existence to consult with the space aliens.
    Snarki, child of Loki @ 6:
    MST3K might be gone, but Rifftrax might eventually tackle this movie, considering its quality. They’re largely made up of former employees of MST3K. You just need to have the home version, and play their riffs at the same time. They have a phone app to sync that up for you as well.

  11. says

    There are explosions and guns, the bad guys are eaten or blown up, the good guys kill all the monsters

    So it’s got everything!
    Yeah, I’ve known since I was a child: the monster is always pregnant, or it has laid eggs, or, if you want a real twist: they were really on Earth all along.

  12. birgerjohansson says

    If the space nazis hiding on the far side of the moon decides to weaponise the Meg, I would watch the film.

    Speaking of weird German films and weird bioweapons, it is time to let the team who made “The Killer Condom” come back together. Imagine Jason Statham fighting that monster.
    Why dissing superheroes – just make a film based on “The Authority”. Let Apollo and the Midnighter beat up the entire Washington DC. After they drop Trump and Putin into the sun.

  13. andywuk says

    I’m going to nominate every film and TV show ever made that featured people “programming” computers.

    Simply because these resulted in me spending my entire IT career dealing with the unrealistic expectations of customers who thought “you just have to press a few buttons and then stuff happens”.

    Virtually every technical specialist has had to deal with this sort of Hollywood fallout to some extent, so that’s my personal bugbear, other specialities will have their own.

  14. says

    Oh, man, Moonfall. I tried to forget that one, but yes, it was worse.

    How the airplane snatched Statham out of the water: it flew low, at a pretty good clip, and then it opened it’s “jaws” and skimmed a lot of water + Statham into a tank. It was basically a 150mph collision that contained a flailing Statham.

  15. microraptor says

    Snarki, child of Loki @5: MST3K went independent a couple of years ago now, now they do streaming from their own website:

    The real reason we’ll probably never see Meg 2: Meg Harder on the Satellite of Love is just because it would be too expensive to get the rights to a recent blockbuster.

  16. scottmange says

    For me, the worst science trope was the ice pick murder scene where the pick was made of Gallium in the movie Goncharov. It’s really hard to find clip though. I saw the movie a long time ago.

    2nd worst is the scene in Wing Commander where the crashed space fighter plane is pushed off the flight deck of the space aircraft carrier and it actually falls.

    Time traveling Delorean when it hits 88MPH which implies the earth is a preferential inertial reference frame.

  17. says

    PZ, your article was quite entertaining. It reminded me a little of some of the wisecracks in Mystery Science Theater 3000. But, remember, unbelievable bullshit is now the established ‘norm’ in our society, especially in government and as you have pointed out many times, in sciency articles. Please note I avoid use of the word normal in any serious discussion: as we see all around us, there is no normal anymore; not in society and not in the physical world. Please pass the foil, I need to reline my hat.

  18. Colin J says

    I saw the Cloverfield Paradox a while ago. It’s about people on a space station where all sorts of random shit happens because… parallel universes or something. At one stage a character is in the airlock which for no reason is suddenly full of water. Before they can drown, the outer door opens and all the water instantly freezes. They die in a block of ice.

    Now I get it that space is “cold”, but it’s also a bloody good insulator so that water isn’t going to lose its heat any time soon. Plus there’s the whole pressure side of the equation. The water isn’t going to freeze, it’s going to boil.

    Maybe you’ll get a cloud of ice crystals pretty quickly but nothing is going to produce an airlock sized ice cube.

  19. says

    @5 Snarki, child of Loki says: Sounds like a perfect film to get the MST3K treatment, but (sob) the Satellite of Love is no more.
    I reply: I apologize, Snarki, I didn’t read the comments carefully before posting my own. You are the master of ‘snark’ with your reference to Mystery Science Theater 3000. I, too, am sorry that fun ended.

  20. says

    I’ll watch it when it’s streaming because I don’t mind mindless, scientifically inaccurate schlock as long as it’s fun, and worse comes to worst, Jason Statham very attractive and I do enjoy watching him in movies. I won’t watch The Expendables of the Fast and Furious franchises for him (though I did see that F&F spin-off movie with him and The Rock), but a silly shark movie? Sure!

    I went to see my first movie since the Before Times this week because I got to go to a matinee and I also had the theater to myself. It was great that I was able to take off my mask for it. The movie was Bottoms and I actually laughed out loud a few times, something I don’t do with most comedies (usually if I’m just amused that’s good enough for me). It’s about two lesbians in high school who stumble into starting a fight club for girls. It doesn’t strive to be realistic, the football players are wearing their football costumes except for the helmets all the time, but it is fun. Unfortunately because it is about two lesbians in high school it probably won’t show up at a small town Minnesota movie theater.

  21. microraptor says

    scottmange @22: The whole Delorean traveling time at 88mph was actually a joke about how atrocious the engines in those things were.

  22. Rob Grigjanis says

    Sci-fi flicks are as faithful to science as ‘historical’ adventure flicks are to history. Moaning about it can be fun, I guess.

  23. billringo says

    You might consider “movie reviewer” as a light weight retirement gig. Your review hit pretty much everything the pros said but yours had the right combination of fact contrary to observation and dead pan ennui.

  24. Ichthyic says

    the thing PZ left out, the thing that makes this movie just BAD bad, instead of GOOD bad, is how horrifically BORING it is. most of the movie is about fake relationships. “the fake friends we made along the way”, with less than 16 mins of actual shark action. If you are going to make a monster movie, it needs, you know, MONSTERS.