WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for director Jon Turteltaub’s The Meg, in theaters now.
If you’ve somehow missed the standees swarming your local multiplex, there’s a late-summer blockbuster in theaters starring Jason Statham and a giant shark, called The Meg. The title is a contraction of megalodon, a prehistoric species that could grow up to 60 feet, three times the length of the Great White that plagued Amity Island in Jaws. Luckily for Statham’s deep-sea rescue diver, Jonas Taylor, the Meg isn’t given any extra aerial boosts by extreme weather, a la Sharknado, nor is it as light on its fins as the one that bit off Stellen Skarsgard’s arm in Deep Blue Sea. But what it lacks in gimmicks it makes up for in sheer scale and ferocity: It’s the biggest shark that ever lived tearing up the big screen — as well as its unfortunate co-stars. The Meg‘s most surprising feat is not that a supposedly extinct beast has remained hidden all this time, or that a film with the tagline “CHOMP ON THIS” has a literary origin. No, it’s that 113 minutes’ worth of severed hands, whale intestines, bloodied shark corpses, impalements, and oceans turned black with fish blood somehow earned the coveted PG-13 rating.
Most directors would call this an achievement, but Jon Turteltaub is actually disappointed he couldn’t make the movie even gorier. The filmmaker admitted to Bloody Disgusting that while he was “glad” his kids could watch The Meg, “the number of really horrifying, disgusting and bloody deaths we had lined up that we didn’t get to do is tragic. There was some really good shit that didn’t survive to the final cut.” That “good shit” would have included a lead character’s death “where you thought he was still alive and you realized it was only his head. […] Quite a few people told us it was creepy and had to cut it.”
Even with the really grim, R-rated imagery chomped out, The Meg still floats at the very top end of a PG-13, for “action/peril, bloody images and some language” according to the Motion Picture Association of America. In the United Kingdom, viewers as young as 12 can see the film if accompanied by an adult. The British Board of Film Classification attributes the 12A rating to “moderate threat” and “moderate action violence,” citing the moments of impending shark-on-human carnage, the man vs. meg tussles and “occasional bloody images in the aftermath of violent events or when people sustain injuries as marine vessels are tossed around.”
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