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Episode 196 - The Meg: LIVE!

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HDTGM All-stars Nicole Byer (Nailed It!, Why Won’t You Date Me?) and Adam Scott (Big Little Lies, R U Talkin’ R.E.M. RE: ME?) join Paul and Jason to talk about the 2018 science fiction thriller The Meg starring Jason Statham. Recorded live at Largo at the Coronet in Los Angeles, they talk about Statham’s incredible diving, the secondary characters being stereotypes, and the Meg eye stab.

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If "The Meg" was going to feature Meg Ryan, the only possible way this could go is if it was a dramatic retelling of the infamous Michael Parkinson interview, if you've never seen that, you should check it out, it's one of the most awkward things I have ever seen on TV.

That being said, a movie could work quite nicely, with Jason Statham as an elderly Yorkshireman, trying to get a conversation out of a CGI shark, and getting more and more pissed off as time went on.  It would be the new Frost/Nixon.

However, it would not be the first time Meg Ryan and Jason Statham appeared on screen together, in fact, here in this 1995 music video for The Beautiful South's cover of "Dream A Little Dream", which was on the soundtrack for Meg Ryan's movie "French Kiss".  Jason Statham appears as an extra.


 

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Now, I am going to ask an important question.  The question is... what in the living fuck is Jason Statham doing here?!

 

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So, I read the book this week. I spoil it for you:  don't read it. It's really badly written and misogynist. The only real similarities are that a megalodon is kept in deep underwater with the hydrothermal plume then causes mass killings when it escapes into cold water when dives interrupt its habitat. Everything else is pretty different. But the current edition of the comes with the prequel (yes, this is a series of books). The prequel is all about Jason Statham's origin story about the mission from the first few minutes of the movie. It explains why people claimed he was "crazy" according to everyone else in the movie.

In the prequel, Jason Statham is a deep sea diver for the navy. He's been diving too deep, too often too recently (four times in nine days or something). This is causing him to experience vertigo, hallucinations and general craziness. Despite knowing he's unfit to dive, Doctor Heller from the movie gives him the medical clearance to dive again. Some admiral basically forces Statham to dive.

During the dive, Statham has an attack from underwater dementia which coincides with a megalodon attack. He surfaces without authorization. The meg attack and Statham's actions causes everyone on board to die during the ascent. Jason blames the shark attack but Dr. Heller and the admiral start a smear campaign against Statham to cover their own negligence in letting him dive. Statham is given a dishonerable discharge and put in a mental health facility for three months as part of the smear campaign.

Some major differences are that Statham wasn't diving to rescue anyone on the mission. They are diving to get minerals. There are multiple parties who witness evidence of the megalodon. Statham physically sees it. The admiral sees the tooth stuck in the submersible. There's some non-navy boat that picks up a huge blip on sonar that they rule out being a whale (and theorize it's a giant shark).

So, the book proper opens seven years later with Statham now a shark expert trying to prove megalodons still exist to clear his name.

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Story time:

I was out with my friends (Hi Paul, I caught you looking at my insta-story! Excuse me while I die of embarrassment that it was my HS reunion!) and while we were at dinner there was a TV that showed a trailer of The Meg, and I commented on how ready I was to see it because it looked hilariously awful. My friend has asked me what it was bout and I told her it was about a Megalodon that came back to our time period. She then said, "Huh, this sounds like a book I accidentally read in high school. I picked it up because it had a shark on it and I wanted to read about sharks and then suddenly there are a ton of sex scenes." She kept describing things about the book and finally it clicked with me and I yelled, "Oh my god that's this movie! You accidentally read the book this is based on!" We had a good long laugh about how 12 years later this book gets made with Jason Statham and we immediately decided we have to go see it together.

We haven't yet because we both work full time and she's in grad school but I'm hoping this long weekend will give us the opportunity. I just love that one of my friends as a teenager could find this in our high school library and expect a normal book about sharks and get so many sex scenes lol.

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I don't want to go into the all the differences between the book and movie because they are barely similar. I'll address a few things brought up on the podcast.

They talk about Rainn Wilson's motivations never being clear. He's not even in the book. The research is funded by the Asian grandfather. It's also not a multi-billion dollar station. They do all their dives off of a boat.

Jason brings up Jason Statham having a death wish. In the book, he has premonitions and dreams that he's going to die from the shark. When he finally does kill the shark, he basically says that it's like his dream and knows he's going to die even though he doesn't.

The way Statham kills the shark is even crazier than Paul describes. He pilots a submersible into the shark's stomach where he recognizes the face of someone who was eaten. The book claims sharks can vomit by sticking their entire stomach out of their mouth which I assume is not true (right? that sounds crazy). The shark tries to do this and Statham gets out of the sub and uses a megalodon tooth to cut open the shark's stomach. Then gets back in the submersible and survives.

They mention this movie feeling like a Chinese import. In the book, the Asian characters all have Japanese names (Masao Tanaka instead of Shuyin and Zhang) instead of Chinese names. None of the movie takes place near a Chinese beach. I think they changed all this to get a bigger financial gross in China.


And here's just a sequence from the book that made me laugh. The Meg attacks a surfing competition. One surfer outsurfs the shark. He makes it to land, gets handed a trophy immediately for best surfing of the day and asks his crush on a date. This is only two pages of the book.
5BCRDkc.jpg

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4 minutes ago, grudlian. said:

And here's just a sequence from the book that made me laugh. The Meg attacks a surfing competition. One surfer outsurfs the shark. He makes it to land, gets handed a trophy immediately for best surfing of the day and asks his crush on a date. This is only two pages of the book.

....They literally spell Kelsey two different ways on the same page.... I can't.....

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8 minutes ago, taylorannephoto said:

....They literally spell Kelsey two different ways on the same page.... I can't.....

I *think* that's supposed to be a nickname or an abbreviation. Pronounced "kels" Like if Dylan's nickname was "Dyl" but he spelled it "Dill" I wouldn't guarantee it though because this is never explained. These characters never show up before or after this competition which is maybe 10 pages of the book. So, introducing a nickname in their only exchange in the book in their final line doesn't make sense.

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10 minutes ago, grudlian. said:

I *think* that's supposed to be a nickname or an abbreviation. Pronounced "kels" Like if Dylan's nickname was "Dyl" but he spelled it "Dill" I wouldn't guarantee it though because this is never explained. These characters never show up before or after this competition which is maybe 10 pages of the book. So, introducing a nickname in their only exchange in the book in their final line doesn't make sense.

This is just gonna drive me crazy that this dude did this with a literally unneeded character now lol. Cause Kelce is just another way to spell Kelsey!!! The "e" denotes pronunciation!!!!

Good god I haven't even read the book and I hate it.

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20 minutes ago, taylorannephoto said:

This is just gonna drive me crazy that this dude did this with a literally unneeded character now lol. Cause Kelce is just another way to spell Kelsey!!! The "e" denotes pronunciation!!!!

Good god I haven't even read the book and I hate it.

The version I read is the revised and expanded version (now with pictures!). He apparently felt it didn't fit with the what the book series became. That's makes me ask two questions:

1. How terrible was the original version of this turd?

2. Did he add this sequence just for the new edition? Since it doesn't really fit in with the book, it's plausible.

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I am super excited about this episode! The movie! The guests! I am about to start it. But last night when I couldn't sleep (insomnia, don't have it). I wrote what I thought was a more scientifically accurate opening for the movie. I thought I would share.

AHEM

 

A Garfield phone rings. 

 

JASON STATHAM: Hello?

BETTY WHITE: Statham? It's Betty White. You know how I have a sanctuary for prehistoric animals at my farm?

STATHAM: I've seen LAKE PLACID; I am up to speed.

BETTY WHITE: Well that fucker Rainn Wilson stole my Megalodon. 

STATHAM: What? Why would he do that?

BETTY WHITE: Hell if I know. He's playing a real rich douchenozzle. I need someone to keep it from hurting people.

STATHAM: Why me?

BETTY WHITE: I already sent the Rock after the gorilla.

STATHAM: That makes sense. Can I play it like I am a drunk with PTSD so long as it never comes back or stops me from doing anything heroic?

BETTY WHITE: Do whatever you fucking want just don't make me call Diesel. His Instagram videos creep me the fuck out.

 

Anyway! I think this is better because it gets to the shark action faster, without the nonsense science. And then the sequel can be plane-based (for June) and feature Gerald Bulter (for Jason) fighting a pterodactyl or something. Maybe a giant bird (for Nick Kroll.) I haven't decided.

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There was some talk in this episode about how weird it was that someone’s kid was running around like a crazy person and sitting at the controls of a multimillion dollar submersible. I’m a scientist at a major research institute and that felt very real to me. People work weird hours and don’t always have access to reliable childcare so I’ve for sure seen unsupervised kids poking at equipment that costs millions of dollars (including one that can shoot blinding lasers) and running around in spaces that are full of pretty gnarly chemicals. To be honest, the film makes a very subtle and subversive political statement about the need for expanded access to childcare for researchers and scientists. Congratulations to the editors for their attention to detail on that point.

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I would very much like it if Nicole and Jason could start their own podcast where they go see movies in theaters together and then rewrite them with more sex scenes. 10/10 would recommend. 5 stars on iTunes.

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7 minutes ago, taylorannephoto said:

I would very much like it if Nicole and Jason could start their own podcast where they go see movies in theaters together and then rewrite them with more sex scenes. 10/10 would recommend. 5 stars on iTunes.

Also, can you imagine going to watch this movie just for live show then Jason and Nicole are watching the in same theater for the same reason?

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2 hours ago, Chemotaxis said:

There was some talk in this episode about how weird it was that someone’s kid was running around like a crazy person and sitting at the controls of a multimillion dollar submersible. I’m a scientist at a major research institute and that felt very real to me. People work weird hours and don’t always have access to reliable childcare so I’ve for sure seen unsupervised kids poking at equipment that costs millions of dollars (including one that can shoot blinding lasers) and running around in spaces that are full of pretty gnarly chemicals. To be honest, the film makes a very subtle and subversive political statement about the need for expanded access to childcare for researchers and scientists. Congratulations to the editors for their attention to detail on that point.

I actually had this thought process run through my head: Why is this little girl running around everywhere? Who the hell is taking care of this girl? *smacks forehead* No childcare, obvs! 

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Long post. Too many thoughts. I tried to bullet them for those that don't care.

-- Nicole was right. He did sing "just keep swimming" I know because I laughed out loud for a long time. I think that was an improv from Statham. There's no way it was in the script. Also I would pay to watch movies with Nicole shouting about people fucking from a loud speaker. I think Alamo Drafthouse should get on this.

-- Was anyone else UPSET that a  lot of the extra characters (Ruby Rose, Mack, the dumb dog) didn't die? I thought Statham, Li Bingbing and the little girl would be the only survivors. I mean, I guess I'm glad the black guy didn't die because that would be more racist. (And I feel like the script was super racist with him always being scared of stuff and the actor had to WORK to make it, like, even acceptable.)

-- Jason mentioned an episode of Blue Earth that I should watch. Because I was confused about the Meg's habitat and behavior. I thought at the beginning that it HATED the lights because he's used to swimming in darkness (so far away from the surface). So then I thought they'd like, shine bright lights in its eyes at the end to blind it or something. But no, it swims to the surface and is JUST FINE chasing swimmers. Shouldn't it be VERY confused in a setting with light?

-- Then I thought maybe its PREY is bio luminescent and it's ATTRACTED to lights which would explain why it would go to the surface anyway. But then shouldn't it be thinking anything bright is food and dark swimming figures AREN'T?

-- And then I went into a hole of wondering what Megalodon's prey actually was. Wikipedia says whales and sea turtles and stuff. Which lines up with the shark going for the whale sounds at the end. But then I thought, so are there whales down in the Marianas trench? If so, how do they BREATHE? Whales are mammals. They can't stay below the surface forever. Which made me think there can't be whales in the Marianas trench, which made me wonder why the Megalodon even knows what a whale song sounds like.

-- I was also confused about how Statham was fine at the end of the film. I've seen Shark Week. I like the ones about people who survive shark attacks. I've seen people get injuries from punching sharks because the skin is sandpapery and abrasive. So shouldn't he be shredded just from touching it? And if it has such force, how did bones not break like he was hit by a car? I had more problems with that than him being able to kill it by shoving the spear into the eye because the brain must be behind the eye.

-- I hated Ruby Rose's hair. I liked the little girl's hair though. I wanted those wings. Where can I get them?

-- I didn't know Statham was a diver but I did think he had good form when he dove into the water off the boat (usually actors look stupid diving). So that adds up.

-- Oh-- another swimmer thing. I remember reading, one of those RL Stine books as a kid where the main character escapes a shark by swimming with little splash (sharks are attracted to the splashing because they eat seals--although I don't know why a Megalodon would know what splashing sounds like at all if it's never near the surface?) So when I would do lap swim growing up and someone had a very splash-y kick (bad form) I would tell them they'd get eaten by a shark and they never knew what I was talking about. But, long story short, the BREAST STROKE is the least splashy of the typical strokes and I've read survival guides that suggest it for escaping sharks. I was really annoyed that they were all swimming crawl/freestyle. That is faster but way more splash and they were distinctly told to swim SLOWER with careful movements. Some shark experts.

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I was so angry to see Rainn Wilson, as a somewhat wise billionaire, being in the boat at night vs. the helicopter when they were trying to kill The Meg. He’s already seen what this monstrosity can do, so why is he not choosing the vehicle that’s furthest away from the beast? Hell, he could have been the one dropping the charges on the supposed Meg, when all of a sudden the actual Meg launches itself up and hits the helicopter... thus knocking out Rainn. Then the scene plays out where The Meg bites the whale and then comes back for a second chomp.

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Anyone else 

5 hours ago, taylorannephoto said:

I would very much like it if Nicole and Jason could start their own podcast where they go see movies in theaters together and then rewrite them with more sex scenes. 10/10 would recommend. 5 stars on iTunes.

As the kids say, "I ship it." 

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Hey Paul,

Was I the only one who thought Staham was going to drive his ship directly into The Meg’s mouth at the end of the film??

Right before Staham charges the shark, he does a callback to the exchange he had with the scientist. It was this quote... “It’s not about the people you lose, it’s about the people you save.” 

I thought the plan was to drive the ship into The Meg's mouth and it would chomp down on the missile, thus causing it to explode.

In the end, charging the shark and veering to the right wasn't as intense or satisfying as when Staham free dived into the water to tag the shark.   

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Two random thoughts:

1. I loved how The Meg not only knew he was being tracked, but that he should hide under a whale in case bombs fall from the sky. That is the only explanation to the misdirect. 

2. When Ruby Rose and the doctor are in the water, we get SHARK VISION! Also you see The Meg has Ruby in his sight, but at the last minute the Doc sacrifices himself by splashing around. Really?! Just some splashing around can change who the shark is going to eat? And why not just get both of them?! 

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Correction:

The Meg was killed by having it's stomach cut open by the wing of the sea go-kart, and then it being eaten by a school of other sharks. Something that Statham would not have any idea to do because that idea was shown to Wilson during his night hunt of the second Meg when they saw smaller sharks eating the corpse of what was revealed to be the whale.

As for this movie, I have a few thoughts myself:

I do wish it was R because it pulled back when the audience was wanting it to push further. basically every death was either an A-Team escape or cut away from super quickly.

Ruby Rose's hair angered me for unknown reasons, from the spike/dreads to the undercarriage of it being aqua blue, it just seemed like they were trying to pander to some demographic but didn't know which one.

I was furious at how angry everyone was at Statham for saving the majority of people he was tasked to, because 1 or 2 ended up dying. In the opening scene I was surprised that for the first time that I can recall, the left behind partners were actually begging for the lead character to wait and come save them, rather than telling him to leave them behind to save everyone else. Yet when Statham does his job, all of a sudden he's an asshole because he couldn't do the impossible. Even in the second instance when The Wall is telling everyone that Toshi sacrificed himself, the daughter basically calls him a murderer, despite her exacerbating the situation by being impatient.

I'm still trying to figure out Wilson's business model for this venture, as it's revealed when he arrives that he has no idea what they were doing or that it cost him over a billion dollars. Yeah you can get some prestige in the scientific community by revealing your discovery, but that won't come near to covering the costs of the expeditions. If only they had said they thought there was a new energy source below the cold layer or that Wilson thought he could capture the Meg to put into a theme park, it would make more sense.

Also, did anyone else expect the Meg to leap out of the water and pull down one of those helicopters?

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8 hours ago, Elektra Boogaloo said:

And then I went into a hole of wondering what Megalodon's prey actually was. Wikipedia says whales and sea turtles and stuff. Which lines up with the shark going for the whale sounds at the end. But then I thought, so are there whales down in the Marianas trench? If so, how do they BREATHE? Whales are mammals. They can't stay below the surface forever. Which made me think there can't be whales in the Marianas trench, which made me wonder why the Megalodon even knows what a whale song sounds like.

 

Speaking of the Meg's secret ecosystem, this shark is inbred to hell and back, right? I didn't get a chance to see this movie yet, nor have I read the book so I don't know what this underwater ocean was supposed to look like, but how many megalodons could have gotten caught up in it millennia ago? There could only be so many fish, squid, and smaller sharks before they resorted to cannibalism and thinned what numbers they had. These Megs should be in dire straits.

Personal gripe. I get that this movie was in development for twenty years, but can we please take a break from the dinosaur and megalodon hype train? There are so many amazing prehistoric animals that never get a chance to shine. Give me my Megatherium movie!

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7 hours ago, muttnik said:

Speaking of the Meg's secret ecosystem, this shark is inbred to hell and back, right? I didn't get a chance to see this movie yet, nor have I read the book so I don't know what this underwater ocean was supposed to look like, but how many megalodons could have gotten caught up in it millennia ago? There could only be so many fish, squid, and smaller sharks before they resorted to cannibalism and thinned what numbers they had. These Megs should be in dire straits.

Personal gripe. I get that this movie was in development for twenty years, but can we please take a break from the dinosaur and megalodon hype train? There are so many amazing prehistoric animals that never get a chance to shine. Give me my Megatherium movie!

I wouldn't expect the sharks to be inbred as they can live for-fucking-ever, so there would be little need to breed. If I recall from old Time Life animal books I read as a kid, fish could breed fairly quickly and in massive numbers, and we're only seeing a small portion of the lower sea floor, so there could be larger schools of fish that we aren't seeing, but with a shark as massive as the second Meg was, it is highly unlikely it would be surviving longer than a few years. Also, we need more shark movies, otherwise what will SyFy use to fight Dinocroc, Mega Python, or Tara Reid?

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