How The Meg is a kinder gentler shark movie than Jaws

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Aug 14, 2018, 6:12 PM EDT

In The Meg, Jason Statham faces off against the biggest shark the world has ever known. But the mighty Megalodon, a titan of the deep that dates back to the time of the dinosaurs, is a big ol' softy when compared to the biggest name in shark movies. Below, we reveal how The Meg compares to the most iconic shark movie of all time, Steven Spielberg's Jaws.

Spoilers below for The Meg.

Since the summer of 1975, Jaws has been the shark movie to which all others will inevitably be compared. The Meg leans into this unavoidable rivalry, playfully reveling in some iconography that Spielberg's world-changing blockbuster made famous. In an exciting setpiece, The Meg's titular shark swims close to shore, where hoards of oblivious beachgoers bob in the water like a sprawling buffet of tasty morsels. But before this gargantuan predator rolls up on his human chums, he comes across an adorable allusion to the shark movie that started our frenzy for more.

A posh yacht plays host to a pair of newlyweds on their big day. In the bride's arms, she carries a cuddly Yorkshire Terrier, who's restless to get in the water. Making a break from his owner, the doggo dives into the open ocean and goes for a swim, its tail wagging wet and happily behind it. Our hearts sink, not only because we know the ravenous Meg lurks in the depths below, but also because of the name the bride calls out after her beloved pet. "Pippin!"

Here's where the Jaws devotees groan in dread, because Pippin is awfully similar to Pippet, the name of a famously ill-fated mutt. It is a sunny summer day in Amity Island when a man plays fetch with his black labrador, Pippet. But as Chief Brody frets on the beach, his eye trained to look for trouble, Pippet vanishes. Ominously, Spielberg cuts to the thrown stick, floating in the water without the dog in sight. His owner calls and calls, but the lovely lab will never resurface.

Thankfully, Pippet is eaten up offscreen. But a greater horror awaits the people of Amity Island, because this poor pupper was just an appetizer. The main course is Alex Kintner, a young boy who begged his protective mother to let him play in the water with his raft. Unaware of the danger, she agreed. Moments after Pippet goes missing, the shark emerges to snatch little Alex right off his raft, gruesomely killing him while sparking a pulse-pounding panic among the tourists and locals alike. 

Returning to The Meg, we see Pippin swimming along, the massive shark cruising behind him. We tremble as we remember Pippet and the terror that followed. Mercifully, the scene cuts away before a doggo death. Next, a blithe little boy on the Chinese beach of Sanya Bay runs up to his mother, who is adorned in a sunhat just as Mrs. Kintner was on that fateful day. He asks if he can take his inner tube into the waves. She agrees. And we remember the Kintners. Here, The Meg greedily feeds on our dread and awful anticipation. We've seen this scene before. We know this chubby boy is just as doomed as that cuddly pup that presumably bit it offscreen! But The Meg surprises us and subverts expectation by not re-enacting every bit of Jaws' memorable beach attack.

Instead of gobbling up Alex 2.0, the Meg targets hardier meals found in the throngs of flirtatious teens hanging out in inner tubes or on floating docks. Screams ring out as bodies thrash and collide in a desperate bid for survival. Flashes of teeth and sprays of blood streak across the screen. But despite all this chaos, the boy will live. Once the Meg retreats from this demolished paradise, The Meg cuts to the kiddo unscathed and unrattled, placidly licking a popsicle as he floats safe and sound.

But what of Pippin, whose death has been teased even in unnerving Twitter promos?

Worry not, dog-lovers! He too is spared. The Meg, after all, has bigger fish to fry, like chasing down snooty scientists, daring divers, and eccentric billionaires committed to killing him. But don't get it twisted. The Meg doesn't mess around when it comes to carnage.

This summer spectacle offers suspenseful chase scenes and a string of grisly attacks, while its central shark makes meals out of a giant squid, a pair of whales, and at least five people before transforming a bustling beach into a killing field with untold fatalities. This means The Meg's death count is far more than the five slain by the shark in Jaws. Yet, when it comes to the classic's most gutting kills, The Meg plays nice. It pulls its punches by sparing the movie's chipper children and perky pup. So while certainly more deadly and bigger, this Meg is not badder, but rather a kinder, gentler shark than the ruthless, dog-biting kid-eater of Jaws

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