From "Jaws" to "The Meg," films about killer creatures from the ocean's depths are meant to be bloody ... but not too bloody. While "Jaws" boasts a somewhat surprising PG rating, "The Meg" is only one step away at PG-13. However, according to the latter's director Jon Turteltaub, there was a gorier R-rated version of "The Meg" that never saw the light of day.
In an interview with Bloody Disgusting, he revealed that, in the original script, the 75-foot-long prehistoric shark enjoyed a number of brutal kills — including the decapitation of a leading character — that aren't seen in the final cut. Ultimately, the reason for this is simple: the watered-down version allows "The Meg" to be accessible to more audiences.
Turteltaub said, "We realized there's no way we're keeping this PG-13 if we show this. It's too fun a movie to not let people who don't like blood and people who are under, say, 14 years old into the theater." He added, "My wife is glad about it and I'm glad my kids can see the movie, but the number of really horrifying, disgusting and bloody deaths we had lined up that we didn't get to do is tragic."
Those hoping to see the discarded death scenes in an extended DVD or Blu-ray cut will be disappointed. Jon Turteltaub told Bloody Disgusting that the visual effects needed to bring such scenes to life are too costly to only serve as bonus footage.
As for "Meg 2: The Trench," which follows Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) as he and his research team are faced with fresh undersea predators, the sequel follows suit with a PG-13 rating. In an interview with Total Film, director Ben Wheatley stressed that, although he's the man behind the R-rated horror flick "In the Earth," the new "Meg" installment is once again geared toward a wider audience.
"The thrill side of it is important. But it's summer thrills, rather than gory thrills," he said. "Things can still be edge-of-your-seat without them having to be what happens in 'In the Earth.' That's what we've been concentrating on — the handling of tension, of action and looking at a lot of ... well, basically [Steven] Spielberg."
Queer Filmmaker Nicole Conn Delivers COMING OUT FOR LOVE First U.S. Dating Competition Show For Queer Women
Chinese action star Wu Jing and British action star Jason Statham made an appearance at the Shanghai International Film Festival and gave audiences a sneak peek of the upcoming China-U.S. co-produced sci-fi monster blockbuster "Meg 2: The Trench" at several press events.
Chinese action star Wu Jing and U.K. action star Jason Statham share insights into the making of "Meg 2: The Trench" at a press conference in Shanghai, June 6, 2023. [Photo courtesy of Dark Horse]
Statham explained that the "trench" in the film's title refers to the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the Earth's ocean. He elaborated on how the trench and its breached thermocline contribute to the ominous nature of the movie. As the movie characters go deeper into the ocean, the situation becomes creepier and more sinister.
Statham also shared his experience of shooting the film underwater, saying, "I think the whole thing is just being able to remain calm while you're underwater and running out of air, which intuitively is not an easy thing to do."
Wu talked about the jaw-dropping helicopter action scenes in the movie. He explained that under normal circumstances, safety protocols must be followed when riding a helicopter. Therefore, during filming, he can let loose and play around more as strict safety measures are in place and insurance coverage is provided. He tried to perform some riskier stunts, but the producer prohibited him from doing so. Despite this, he still expressed his desire to try even more thrilling and exciting helicopter stunts.
Director Ben Wheatley said, "Wu Jing is relentless with his ideas and creativity on set. That's the hardest thing about working with him – trying to keep up with what he's telling me and what he wants to do, and then hopefully trying to get it on the screen."
Chinese action star Wu Jing and U.K. action star Jason Statham pose for a photo on the red carpet at the 25th Shanghai International Film Festival (SIFF), which opened on June 9, 2023. [Photo courtesy of SIFF Organizing Committee]
Catherine Ying, the president of CMC Pictures, shared that "Meg 2" will upgrade with new marvel scenes, including an underwater walk and a wonder of the sea at a depth of 7,600 meters, which has never been seen before on screen. The movie also features a world of giant creatures –not only megalodon sharks but also prehistoric monsters such as a giant octopus, amphibians, and other ancient animals from the Cretaceous period.
Ying added that the ocean is as mysterious as outer space, with many unknowns. The original aspiration of this franchise is to explore the ocean and its mysteries, aiming to inspire the curiosity of young people to discover the ocean.
Director Frant Gwo made a surprise appearance at the press conference and revealed a hidden tribute to "Meg 2" in his sci-fi blockbuster "The Wandering Earth 2." He also noted that Wu, who is also the leading actor in "The Wandering Earth 2," had shared his experience of making "Meg 2" with him. Gwo expressed hope that the experience gained could be used to further improve the industrialization of Chinese films in the future.
The cast and crew of "Meg 2: The Trench" pose for a group photo at a press conference in Shanghai, June 6, 2023. [Photo courtesy of Dark Horse]
At the recent Weibo Movie Awards Ceremony and Douyin Movie Wonder Night, which were side events at the film festival, "Meg 2" won "Specially Recommended Film of the Year" and "Most-anticipated Film of the Year," respectively. Directed by Ben Wheatley and produced by China's CMC Pictures and the U.S. media and entertainment conglomerate Warner Bros. Discovery, the film has generated significant buzz among movie fans and promises to be a blockbuster hit when it debuts on Aug. 4.
James Gibbons, president and managing director for the Western Pacific region of Warner Bros. Discovery, praised "Meg 2" as the best demonstration of U.S.-China collaboration. "We are also very excited about working with Chinese talent, Chinese producers, and Chinese partners to take these stories to the world, and there's no greater example."
Based on the 1997 Steve Alten novel Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror, Statham played rescue diver Jonas Taylor who comes face to face with a megalodon, a prehistoric gigantic shark.
To be blunt, the film was preposterous nonsense, and that's a good thing. Statham's natural charisma carried it a long way, but a criticism of the film was that it wasn't quite as fun as it should be - that's something producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura was keen to rectify when it came to Meg 2: The Trench, the somewhat-delayed sequel which sees Statham return for round 2.
Based on the box office return of the first film, and the hopes for the second, you could forgive Di Bonaventura and Warner Bros., its distributing studio, for thinking they had a franchise on which they could bank. Not so, according to the producer. Diplomatically admitting there "could be" more fun stories to tell, he admitted they would need to find a fresh way of telling the story, lest they ruin the audience's goodwill and outstay their welcome.
Now, it’s set to happen all over again, as the second trailer for Meg 2: The Trench (2023), the sequel to the 2018 hit which sees Jason Statham reprise his role as Jonas Taylor (very clever), unleashes a ton of prehistoric predators upon unsuspecting humans, from the depths of the ocean all the way to the surface and even onto dryland!
|Credit: Warner Bros.|
At the start of the trailer, we see a T-Rex of the exact same design as “Rexy” hunting a Postosuchus along a beach, only to end up being prey himself to an enormous Megalodon shark, which bursts out of the surf to chomp down on the dinosaur. The trailer then cuts to the modern day, reuniting us with Statham’s character and many others from the first film.
Credit: Warner Bros.
Meg 2: The Trench is shaping up to be a dinosaur movie in its own right.
Mercury’s contemporary magic wand for taking command of your time is the stopwatch. Here’s how you use this magical wand:
You know the clock on the wall will keep ticking away relentlessly until the day has gone by. You even know how it keeps ticking at night--why else would you awaken at 5:59 on your digital bedside clock when you’ve set the alarm to go off at 6:00? You know the telephone seems wired to that damned clock, life’s interruptions seem wired to it, the myriad distractions that flesh is heir to seem wired to it--and you recognize that, as a result, you yourself and your dreams have been wired to the Accountant’s clock for way too long. Your world has been defined by that relentless, uncreative clock. You are desperate to realize your Goal Time.
Today you stop the world. You buy a stopwatch. I suggest buying the simplest one you can find, one that allows you to stop the seconds and restart them, without the other countless modes that will drive you crazy unless you’re training race horses. Hang the stopwatch above your computer, your telephone, your work table--above whatever altar serves the god of your dream. Promise yourself that, no matter what happens on that wall clock, you will work on your dream at least one hour before you go to bed tonight.
Or two hours. Try one first, then expand slowly and naturally in the direction of that Goal Time. Keep it as simple as you can and still make it work for you. Using the stopwatch allows me the illusion of freedom you value highly, but also ensures the constant sense of disciplined progress toward the success you’ve mapped out for yourself.
Nothing is more satisfyingly inevitable than the achievements that time creates from small, stolen increments. One hour a day is thirty hours a month. Thirty hours a month will inevitably produce results, especially if you’ve programmed the three parts of your mind effectively to make the best possible use of that one hour. Imagine how quickly planning his quest will move forward, having assigned five hours a week to the operation.
If the one-hour-per-day approach doesn't work for your unpredictable schedule, or makes you feel too disciplined, make it a weekly approach. One of my workshop students was having trouble keeping to his contract that he’d put in two writing hours per day. After several give and takes, we came down to the real reason he was having problems: He was leaving his day job in order to be free, and the daily discipline we’d been discussing made him feel enslaved again. I asked him if he’d be comfortable committing to a weekly number of hours, to bringing in his stopwatch to the next session with ten hours on it.
"Absolutely. The whole idea is to find a way of tricking your mind into allowing you to live by your own clock."
He came in the next week with 10:06 on his stopwatch, and the weeks after with 10:04, 9:56, 10:10. He’d found a way of using the magic wand to give him that necessary illusion of freedom and control combined with the satisfaction of real progress in committing hours to his career transit.
Don’t forget that only you can call "time out!"
Anon: It's not over until the fat lady sings.
Atchity: It's not over, but you can call time out.
I used to wish I could call time out to give myself time to regroup and figure out the meaning of life. I used to fantasize about building in an extra, dateless, hour-less day each week to give us time off: no appointments, no phone calls, no deadlines. But that is daydreaming, undisciplined Visionary thinking; and we are trapped in an Accountant’s world.
You can get time out on a regular basis by stealing it. Now that you’ve embraced your career transit and are living the entrepreneurial life, don’t forget to give yourself the benefits that your day job employer was forced to give you. Sometimes we are so excited about doing the things we love on a daily basis that we forget to give ourselves a break from them. “I don't need a vacation. My life is a vacation!”
Everyone needs vacations. Most people need them because work is exhausting. The entrepreneur needs them because vacations bring perspective and creative insights that are unavailable under the daily pressures of the career transit. "To do great work," Samuel Butler wrote, a person "must be very idle as well as very industrious." The entrepreneur, as both employer and employed, must schedule his vacations, with alternate dates in mind in case "something comes up" that forces a change. You are accomplishing just as much if not more when you "go away for the whistle" and allow your mind to play.
Vacations for the dreamer are excursions into Visionary time. "Getaway time," like the aboriginal "dreamtime," puts your Mind’s Eye in direct touch with the Visionary’s view of what you've been doing on a daily basis, and what you could be doing more creatively. Traveling away from "Base 1" is always good for the dreamer because it causes a "cross-pollinating" effect among your objectives, goals, and projects. Traveling anywhere away from a project is a kind of vacation, and nearly always a creative advantage; but traveling should be distinguished from true vacations. Going to New York on business, or going home to see your family for a week, are vacations that can bring fresh perspective. But in both cases there are too many things "to do" for the most constructive form of abandonment to occur. A true vacation is being on the island of Maui, where, after a couple of days of readjustment to "heavenly Hana," your "to-do" list consists of two items, and you somehow never quite get around either to doing them or to caring that you didn't. You notice suddenly that the days seem long, immense; that time has become, as Jorge Luis Borges puts it, "like a plaza." Smaller getaways can produce the same effect: mountain hiking; wandering through the museum; deep-sea fishing for a day; just "hanging out" at Grand Central Station or at the Plaza Oak Bar watching the world go by. During a true vacation Mercury can bring you an Olympian perspective, where the patterns of your life and activities become apparent among the tangle of busyness.
It is precisely at such times that "chaos theory" applies itself to the creative process. Chaos theory posits the all-important impact of tiny random events on the long-range prediction of physical cycles. Weather patterns could be predicted accurately were it not for "the butterfly effect": Somewhere a Monarch butterfly fluttering from flower to flower (an incident too small to measure) minutely disrupts the passage of the breeze, and a thousand miles away a middle-sized storm turns into a tornado. Chaos theory is the despair of Accountants, who spend their lives trying to predict regularity as though chaos didn’t exist. But to the Visionary, chaos is the staff of Mercury. The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, in Thus Spake Zarathustra, his most Visionary work, wrote: "One must still have chaos in one to give birth to a dancing star."
The dreamer arranges his true vacations to put him in direct touch with chaos, following winding roads to heavenly dream places inaccessible to ordinary travelers.
Tips on time and work management
Rate everything that crosses your desk 1, 2, or 3. Then make an agenda for the 1s immediately, and immediately delegate the 2s to someone else. Put the 3s in a drawer designated the "3-drawer," setting aside a few hours once a month to go through it and see what’s still important enough to deal with. You’ll discover that most of the contents of the 3-drawer are even less important than they were. Napoleon supposedly had all his mail dumped before the bags were opened, on the premise that the important news would have reached him already and anything he neglected that should not have been neglected would make itself known. I’m sure that Josephine quickly found an alternative method of communicating with her Emperor.
Postpone procrastination! Anthony Robbins says, "The best way to deal with procrastination is to postpone it." Procrastinate with everything except your dream. To make that happen you need to--
As much as possible, solve each problem as it occurs. Postponing the solution automatically increases the total amount of time needed for it. Opening a letter, then stacking it somewhere, is counterproductive. If you know from the envelope that the letter isn’t important, toss it in the nearest wastebasket and don’t even take it into your den.
Mencius: Men must be decided on what they will not do, and then they are able to act with vigor in what they ought to do.
Well-meaning Friend: You're such an enthusiast.
Atchity: Why does that sound like an accusation?
Enthusiasts must protect themselves from their enthusiasms. To accomplish this, I suggest the following.
Hold a monthly "drop" meeting with yourself. The object of the meeting is to select activities that can be dropped for a month, with a promise to reevaluate their importance at your next meeting. Tabling or discarding the weaker dreams, thereby constantly improves the quality of the dreams you work on. As you become experienced in the creative life, you’ll recognize that one of its strangest characteristics is the necessity of killing the little monsters--that once were bright dreams--nipping at your heels. The smaller dreams must now be pruned away so that the bigger ones can thrive. Of course it’s even better to kill them off in the concept stage; as Albert Camus said: "It's better to resist at the beginning, than at the end."
Don’t feel bad about the discards. Celebrate them. More than sacrifices or disappointments, they are symptoms of your disciplined progress. Just because you can do something, after all, no longer means that you must or should do it. That was the old you, dominated by the Accountant, before your Mind’s Eye opened to engage you in an entrepreneurial career transit.
When evaluating new projects, keep in mind the sign that psychologist Carl Jung had framed above his desk:
Yes No Maybe
"Maybe" is crossed out as well as “No” to remind us that it’s the "Maybes" that devour our time and dream energies. If the answer to an incoming idea or request isn't definitively "Yes," it’s definitively "No." Never Maybe. Maybe kills countless ambitions and splendid plans. "We are what we pretend to be," says Kurt Vonnegut's narrator in Mother Night, "so we must be careful about what we pretend to be."
You may also find it useful to go through the following checklist:
Is this a good idea (or opportunity)? Yes or No.
Is this idea directly connected with my dream? Yes or No. If the answer is No, pass it along to someone else "with no strings attached.”
Does this idea fit into my present agenda? If not, is it such a good idea that I should revise my agenda to accommodate it?
Is the world ready for this idea?
Am I ready to spend years making it real?
It’s extremely important to consider both internal and external "timing" when it comes to evaluating new ideas and opportunities. Many of us waste time on good ideas whose time has either come and gone, or won’t be coming for too long a time to make its present implementation productive. Of course, thanks to the predictably unpredictable impact of chaos on our lives, we can never be certain about timing. But we can be certain about our gut reaction to the checklist.
So long as you live, be radiant, and do not grieve at all. Life's span is short and time exacts the final reckoning.
--Cepitaph of Seikilos for his wife (100 B.C.)
This series was updated from How to Escape Lifetime Security and Pursue Your Impossible Dream: A Guide to Transforming Your Career (Helios Press)
It’s been more than twenty years since Dennis Palumbo’s fiction has appeared in EQMM. In the meantime, he’s been busy with a series of novel-length thrillers featuring Daniel Rinaldi, a psychologist who consults with the Pittsburgh Police (the latest is Panic Attack, from Poisoned Pen Press), and his short stories have been collected in From Crime to Crime (Tallfellow Press). A former Hollywood screenwriter (My Favorite Year; Welcome Back, Kotter, etc.), Dennis is himself a licensed psychotherapist, and in this post he talks about some misconceptions many mystery writers and readers have about the usefulness of psychological diagnoses in solving crimes. —Janet Hutchings
As a former Hollywood screenwriter, now a licensed psychotherapist and mystery author, I have more than a passing interest in how therapy is portrayed on screen and on the page. That said, I’ve noticed that in recent years, whether in some best-selling crime thriller or on your average procedural TV drama, the therapists depicted are usually pretty quick-on-the-draw when it comes to diagnosing characters in the story.
For example: To explain a suspect’s behavior to the investigating detectives, shrinks in these novels and TV series toss out easily-digestible diagnoses like “psychopathic,” “schizophrenic,” or “borderline personality disorder.” As if these terms explained everything the cops (and readers or viewers) needed to know about the person being discussed. In my view, not only is this lazy storytelling (psychological symptoms taking the place of character development) but it’s clinically debatable.
The problem starts with the DSM (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). Used as the premiere diagnostic bible by mental-health professionals worldwide, the DSM has been predominately responsible for the labeling of an individual’s behavior, in terms of whether or not it falls within the range of agreed-upon norms. As such, it’s been both praised and reviled over the years. Praised because of its concise descriptions and categorizations of behavioral symptoms; reviled because of its reinforcement of stigmatizing attitudes towards those whose behavior is deemed “abnormal.”
In fact, there’s an old joke about how clinicians use diagnostic labels to interpret their patients’ behavior. If the patient arrives early for his therapy appointment, he’s anxious. If he’s late, he’s resistant. And if he’s on time, he’s compulsive.
Nowadays, however, it’s becoming clear that the joke may be on us. Diagnostic labels are thrown around quite casually by people who ought to know better (therapists on TV news programs) as well as by people who usually don’t (writers of mystery novels and procedural crime shows).
For the latter, it’s perfectly understandable. With rare exceptions, most writers depend on research—and such tools as the DSM—to provide their psychologist and psychiatrist characters with the right lingo. This not only makes these characters sound like the mental-health professionals they’re supposed to be, but it also allows the writer to describe the bad guy’s psychological problem in a way that the reader understands. Plus it makes the shrink character seem wicked smart.
However, as I said, it can also lead to lazy storytelling. In too many mysteries and thrillers nowadays, the shrink character need only say that someone’s a psychopath and—in an instant—a whole series of inexplicable or horrendous behaviors are explained away. To the question of why the bad guy did what he did, the answer is simple: he’s crazy.
In other words, so much for developing a vivid, relatable backstory for this character. Or creating a motive that makes sense. Or for acknowledging, as the author should, that most people are too complicated to be reduced to a set of easily determined symptoms.
Which is why I feel that crime writers—especially those who make use of therapists in their stories, either as protagonists or “experts” brought in to help the hero or heroine—need to take care not to use a one-size-fits-all model of diagnosis when it comes to describing a character in the story.
(There’s another problem with this, one which I think writers need to be aware of. Diagnostic labels, like practically everything else nowadays, follow the dictates of trends. Remember how, not too long ago, every other child was diagnosed with ADHD [Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder]? Or Asperger’s? Well, forget about those. Now the “hot” new label, regardless of age, is bipolar disorder [what used to be called manic-depression]. Lately, whether you’re a movie star, teen heartthrob, politician, or athlete, you’re not cool if you’re not bipolar.)
Not that there’s anything wrong, per se, with labels. Nor with the idea of a common vocabulary so that all us clinical geniuses can communicate with each other. It’s just that, if we’re speaking honestly, diagnostic labels exist primarily for the convenience of the labelers. Which is fine, as far as it goes. But how far is too far? Especially for crime writers?
In my opinion, “too far” is when authors give their therapist characters an almost clairvoyant ability to declare (with God-like conviction) what’s going on in the mind of some suspected bad guy. Because, as any working mental health professional will tell you, facile, off-the-cuff interpretations of a patient’s psychological state rarely end up being accurate. And can even do great harm.
Once, when asked how he worked, Albert Einstein replied, “I grope.” Frankly, that’s what most good therapists do, too. They grope. That is, if they truly respect the therapeutic process—and their patients.
In my own series of mystery thrillers, my lead character, psychologist and trauma expert Daniel Rinaldi, does a lot of groping. Trying to make sense not only of his patients, or some suspect for which the Pittsburgh Police are seeking his expertise, but of himself, too. His own motives, prejudices, needs.
As a therapist in private practice for over 28 years, I’ve grown to appreciate the vast differences in temperament, relationship choices, communication styles and beliefs of my patients—and how these translate into behaviors, both healthy and harmful. Which means I’ve been forced many times to challenge the orthodoxy of my own profession, and to pay attention to the potential danger of reducing people to a simple diagnostic category.
I think all of us who write mysteries owe our various suspects and bad guys the same consideration. As well as try to keep our shrink characters’ smug, self-congratulatory opinions in check.
After all, despite being fictional, they’re still only human.