Jason Statham stars in "The Meg."
Jason Statham stars in "The Meg."

The Meg (Warner Bros., Blu-ray or standard DVD, PG-13, 113 min.). The movie is dumb fun -- I do not mean that in a bad way -- and proves once again that star Jason Statham's likeability, much like Dwayne Johnson's, is enough to carry a film. But then, this film also has a giant 75-foot shark, so do go near the water.

Director Steven Spielberg's "Jaws" (1975) set the bar high for a shark movie, a height that this film comes nowhere close to reaching. In the extras, it is even said that while "Jaws" says you should see as little of the shark for as long as possible, the filmmakers here went ahead with an early reveal of their creature. Statham plays Jonas Taylor, an expert in deep underwater rescues. In the prologue, we see Taylor have an early encounter with what is later revealed to be a prehistoric Megalodon shark, forcing Taylor to pull the rescue short. He saved 11, but two others were left to die. Five years later, Taylor is called in to rescue his ex-wife (Jessica McNamee as Lori) and two others, whose deep-dive rover has been attacked deep in the Marianas Trench, 200 miles off the Shanghai coast.

In fact, Lori's submersible has gone beneath what was previously believed to be the floor of the trench. I am not sure how real the science is, but the explanation is that there is a frozen thermocline cloud of hydrogen sulfide gas instead of earth at the bottom and that warm water lies beneath this, with all kinds of hereto unseen species. When Taylor pulls off the new rescue, a temporary puncture in the thermocline allows a couple of Megs to escape into the upper ocean. (The science falls apart in that there is no way Taylor could have encountered a Meg five years previously, as that exploration had not penetrated the thermocline.)

Lori's research vessel had been launched from the Mana One research station (it looks like an oil rig on the surface, but has some cool observation levels beneath) that was funded by billionaire Jack Morris (Rainn Wilson), apparently both for the excitement and profit possibilities from what might be found beneath. The research is run by Dr. Minway Zhang (Winston Chao) and his daughter, marine biologist Dr. Suyin (Li Bingbing). For human interest purposes, Suyin's 8-year-old daughter (Sophia Kai as Meiying) also is aboard Mana One. Other familiar faces are Masi Oka as Toshi, Cliff Curtis as Mac and Robert Taylor as Heller, who still blames Taylor for the two crew deaths five years ago.

Forty-four minutes into the film, the Meg first attacks the station, scaring Meiying and leaving teeth marks  on the outside of the observation level. Soon it will be raising havoc among several ships and then head towards a crowded beach at Sanya Bay. The action is good, if often unbelievable, and you do get to hear Toni Basil's "Hey Mickey" sung in Thai by Pim (it is still addictive). The film ends with 10 minutes of credits.

Extras include a solid making-of featurette (12:09) in which director Jon Turteltaub and stunt coordinator Allan Poppleton talk about Statham's work and filming on water, as well as a look at creating the Meg (10:25; only some teeth remain in the real world of the beast) and a brief promo about shooting the film in New Zealand (1:53). Grade: film 3 stars; extras 2 stars

Rating guide: 5 stars = classic; 4 stars = excellent; 3 stars = good; 2 stars = fair; dog = skip it

Papillon (Universal, Blu-ray or standard DVD, R, 133 min.). I am not sure we  needed a remake of the 1973 hit of the same name that starred Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman at the height of their popularity, but here it is, and starring two of my favorite TV actions: Charlie Hunnam of "Sons of Anarchy" (as well as Great Britain's original "Queer as Folk") and Rami Malek of "Mr. Robot" (as well as playing Freddie Mercury in the new film, "Bohemian Rhapsody"). Michael Noer, a documentarian who has moved into feature films, directs the somewhat overlong film.

There have been at least 15 films made over the years that deal with Devil's Island, part of the French penal colony located in French Guiana, which operated from 1852 to 1946. The screenplay is based on Henri Charriere's two books, "Papillon' (1969) and "Banco" (1973), as well as the 1973 screenplay by Dalton Trumbo and Lorenzo Semple Jr.

Hunnam plays Charriere, who had the nickname Papillon due to his butterfly tattoo. A charismatic thief based in Paris, Papillon was framed for the murder of a pimp, after he kept some of the diamonds he stole instead of turning them all over to his handler. Upon boarding the penal ship headed for New Guiana, Papillon meets counterfeiter Louis Dega (Malek), who has stashed cash that he hopes can make his life easier while his wife goes through the appeal process. They strike a deal that Dega will fund an escape -- mainly the purchase of a boat -- and Papillon will protect the much-out-of-his-element Dega.

The prison's officials have no fear about escapes, however, as the prison facilities are either surrounded by harsh jungle or shark-infested ocean. Plus, former prisoners, who, once released, are required to stay and work in the French colony an equal amount of time as their original sentence, are eager to capture and turn in any escapees for the reward money. A failed attempt earns two years in solitary -- or death by guillotine if murder is involved -- and a second failed attempt leads to five years in solitary. Suffice it to say that Papillon spends seven years in solitary, stretches of the film in which Papillon is not allowed to talk at all. These stretches also remove Dega from the film, except for some scenes produced by Papillon's delirium.

Hunnam fares better than Malek, as he inhabits the physicality of his role. The only extras are 13 deleted scenes (30:44), the most interesting of which show the jewelry store theft in Paris and an encounter with lepers as the escapees try to obtain a boat. Grade: film 3 stars; extras 2 stars

Mile 22 (Universal, Blu-ray or standard DVD, R, 95 min.). First off, the film is misnamed; it should be "22 Miles," as that is how far an off-the-books CIA group has to transport a prisoner from the U.S. embassy in the fictional city of Indocarr in Southeast Asia to an airport. In exchange for asylum in the United States, the prisoner, a highly-trained Indocarr solder, will tell the CIA team the location of 66 missing discs of Cesium, each of which could be used to construct a radioactive "dirty" bomb.

The film opens with an operation in the United States by the secret Overwatch team that turns deadly, killing several Russian operatives. One of those deaths will key the events that follow. Overwatch is headed by Bishop (John Malkovich), helped by topnotch computer and spy satellite surveillance. Action star Mark Wahlberg plays James Silva, head of the on-the-ground CIA team. Another team member is Alice Kerr, played by Lauren Cohan of TV's "The Walking Dead." Alice is having domestic problems with her ex over custody of their daughter, and director Peter Berg, who has worked with Walberg four other times ("Lone Survivor," "Deepwater Horizon," "Patriots Day" and the currently-being-filmed "Wonderland") quickly shifts back-and-forth between her problems, James' actions in the Embassy, and Russian preparations for a plane takeoff, which becomes a bit dizzying. Berg, by the way, plays Alice's ex, Luke, in a cellphone cameo.

Also part of this quick mix is James obviously being interrogated post-mission, so the viewer already knows he will survive what happens later in the film. The soldier seeking asylum is Li Noor, played by Asian action star Iko Uwais (the two "Raid" films) and his fighting and stunt work make the film worth watching. While Li is calm until provoked, James is the opposite, being somewhere on the autism spectrum, in that, as a youth, he was told his brain operated too fast and thus was given an elastic band on his wrist to snap when he gets agitated, which he still uses a lot as an adult.

The film is disjointed at the start, but settles down a lot once the 22-mile journey begins. Of course, the two-van convey gets attacked in the city, leading to explosions and gunfire and, when James, Alice and Li get diverted into an apartment building, Li gets to do some hallway fighting. However, his best scene is back in the embassy when, while with one wrist handcuffed to a table, he has to fight off two attackers. By the way, the film's ending screams for a sequel, which, I'm guessing, might never be made unless it is just with Uwais.

There are seven very brief featurettes as extras, with the longest and most interesting being about filming in Bogota, Colombia (3:45). Three center on Uwais and the fighting (1:47 on the infirmary scene, 1:48 on Uwais and 1:56 on fights), while another looks at the female actors' fight training (1:44). There is a behind-the-scenes look at the stunts (1:56) and a look at Overwatch (1:36), whose motto, according to Wahlberg is "every and any man left behind." Grade: film 2.5 stars; extras 2 stars

BlacKkKlansman (Universal, Blu-ray or standard DVD, R, 125 min.). This audacious film, co-written and directed by Spike Lee, is a tale of race relations in the 1970s, a time when the Ku Klux Klan was active throughout the nation -- even advertising for new members in newspapers! -- albeit often under the name of "The Organization." National Klan leader David Duke (here played by Topher Grace of "That '70s Show") even was considering a political run.

Based on a true story, the film tells of Ron Stallworth (John David Washington of "The Book of Eli," "Malcolm X"), the first African-American hired as an officer by the Colorado Springs Police Department in 1973. Stallworth is initially put in records, but bored, he says he feels he can do good by going undercover. Chief Bridges (Robert John Burke) decides to move Stallworth to narcotics and he gets the assignment of going undercover at a Black Student Union rally, where the guest speaker is fiery former Black Panther Stokely Carmichael, now known as Kwane Ture (Corey Hawkins), who even includes an anti-Tarzan rant in his call-to-action speech. In line outside the meeting, Stallworth meets Patrice Dumas (Laura Harrier), president of the Black Student Union and with whom he will develop a relationship over the course of the film, although hiding his true occupation.

Having been transferred again, this time to intelligence, Stallworth sees the Ku Klux Klan ad in the newspaper and calls the number, pretending he is an eager white man wanting to join. When his initial feeling out is accepted, Stallworth needs a fellow white officer to pretend to be the one who was inquiring on the phone. That choice falls to Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver of the last two "Star Wars" movies). Making the choice even more interesting is that Zimmerman is Jewish, albeit inactive, and the Klan also is against Jews. Ryan Eggold, late of "The Blacklist" and now of "New Amsterdam," plays local Klan chapter president Walter Breachway, Stallworth's initial contact. Despite the misgivings of Klansman Felix Kendrickson (Jasper Pääkkönen), whose wife (Ashlie Atkinson as Connie) will play a key role in an attempt to bomb some Black activists, Zimmerman, as Stallworth, is accepted by the Klan chapter. Meanwhile, Stallworth is able to go so far as to talk on the phone with Duke several times, which provides a couple of scenes of merriment.

Make no mistake, this is a funny, provocative and profane polemic with a serious message under the satire. It is crude, rocky and irreverent, starting with the opening filmed monologue rant against immigration, delivered by Alec Baldwin as Dr. Kennebrew Beauregard, who blames the Jews for the "mongrel nation." It really is an awful, hateful speech, but it makes the viewer sit up and pay attention from the start. The harshness of the speech also is lightened a bit by Beauregard needing someone off screen to occasionally feed him lines. Late in the film, music icon Harry Belafonte, as Joe Turner, delivers a long speech about Jesse Washington, a real African-American youth accused in 1916 of murdering a white woman and then was beaten and cut up by a mob before being lynched. The latter is interspersed with scenes from D.W. Griffith's "The Birth of a Nation," which ultimately was a piece of racist propaganda.

The film ends with a coda that shows raw footage from the Aug. 12, 2017 incident in Charlottesville, Virginia that cost Heather Heyer her life, as white supremacists held a rally that also drew counter protestors. There also are comments by President Donald Trump and the real David Duke.

The film is one of Lee's best. Unfortunately, there is only one extra, a brief making-of, featuring the real Stallworth (5:09). Grade: film 4.25 stars; extra half-star

12 Monkeys (1995, Arrow, Blu-ray, R, 129 min.). Director Terry Gilliam's second successful Hollywood film in a row -- it followed "The Fisher King" with Robin Williams, after the disaster that "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen" turned into -- was inspired by the short film "La Jetee," written by Chris Marker, although Gilliam did not see "La Jetee" until after "12 Monkeys" was made. The screenplay is by David Peoples and Janet Peoples.

The often wonderful film has a strong performance by an often vulnerable Bruce Willis as time traveler James Cole, sent back in the past to get a sample of the virus that will eventually kill 5 billion in 1996 and 1997, so scientists in the future, when the remaining humans have gone underground for safety, can develop a cure. Cole's expeditions do not go well, as he initially is sent to 1990 and another trip leaves him in France during World War I. The 1990 trip does, however, put him in contact with Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe), a psychologist/scientist.

There also is a fun, against-type performance by Brad Pitt as Jeffrey Goines, as a jittery mental patient with whom Cole is locked up in 1990. It turns out the Goines' father (Christopher Plummer), a virologist, may be the one responsible for developing the plague. It is Jeffrey Goines, who forms the Army of the Twelve Monkeys, which is the main clue the future has about the virus. While in the hospital for the insane, the Marx Brothers' "Monkey Business" plays on the television. And, at one point, Cole, referring to the people in 1996 as those in his past, says, "All I see is dead people." Lo and behold, four years in Willis' future, the line "I see dead people" becomes a key part of "The Sixth Sense," another film he stars in.

There are many "Gilliam" touches, such as the floating orb with multiple video screens in the future. There also are a few familiar faces -- more familiar now? -- scattered throughout, including Dave Morse as Dr. Peters and Christopher Meloni as Lt. Halprin.

Extras include audio commentary by Gilliam and producer Charles Roven, and the film, "The Hamster Factor and Other Tales of Twelve Monkeys" (87 min.), a fly-on-the-wall documentary by Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe that was commissioned by Gilliam and includes a lot of fascination behind-the-scenes footage. The documentary even starts with Monty Python-style animation about Gilliam's films "Brazil" and "Munchausen"; Gilliam was the British comedy troupe's animator. There also is a fine interview with Gilliam (23:50), who explains the hamster and how he got his two stars, saying Willis wanted to prove he was a serious actor. Ian Christie, the author of "Gilliam on Gilliam," does an appreciation with film clips (16:11) and there is an archive of logo designs, travel suits, equipment, location photos and storyboards. Grade: film 4 stars; extras 3.75 stars

Torso (Italy, 1973, Arrow, Blu-ray, NR, 94 min.). This Italian giallo, directed by Sergio Martino and co-written by Martino and Ernesto Gastaldi, is just average until its brilliant last half hour, but even more so, it is an important film as it shows a transition from the giallo film to the slasher film, and introduces the prototype "final girl," who will become a more established genre figure with Laurie Strode in John Carpenter's "Halloween" five years later.

The first half of the film is set in and around the University of Perugia, with Suzy Kendall playing Jane, an older American student who is taking art history classes with Professor Franz (John Richardson) . Suddenly, s string of beautiful young coeds are being strangled and then cut up. A red-and-white scarf is the only clue. This part of the film contains many giallo tropes, including the masked killer who wears a gloves (interesting the killer's white balaclava is similar to the hockey mask that Jason Voorhees will wear in the future "Friday the 13th" films). There also is plenty of topless young women and some suggestions of wanton sex (particularly in the title sequence that has kind of a "Blow-Up" feel, the 1966 Michelangelo Antonioni film). There really is no bungling or amateur investigator, although the plot is very much that of a mystery, with several males acting suspiciously, including Dani's (Tina Aumont) uncle.

It is the uncle who offers Dani, Jane and two other gal friends his remote villa to spend the weekend in, away from the murders in the city. However, the killer follows, having first killed a would-be blackmailer by crushing him with his car. When the girls arrive at the town below the villa, the rude locals make comments about their beauty and crude sexual remarks, before they hop aboard a tractor to go up to the villa. There even is a village idiot that runs up to the villa, only to be chased by the killer.

In the films' amazing last half-hour, Jane, who has taken pills for a painful twisted ankle, as well as alcohol, is asleep upstairs. She awakens to find her three friends dead, killed off camera (which is unusual for this type of film). She at least temporarily survives because the killer did not know she was in the house. That situation changes though and there is a classic scene involving a locked door.

The extras on this edition are excellent. First, there actually are four versions of the film: the original Italian version; a hybrid English-Italian version; and two English versions with different names, "Torso" and "Carnal Violence" and different title sequences. The latter two versions are only 90 minutes long. The Italian version comes with audio commentary by Kat Ellinger, author of "All the Colors of Sergio Martino." Then there are five new interviews, averaging a half-hour each, with Martino (34:02), who says he was inspired by "Blood Terror," a film in which the killer did not know someone else was in the building; actor Luc Merenda, who played Doctor Roberto (34:53); co-writer Gastaldi (29:16; very engaging); the director's daughter, Federica Martino, also a filmmaker (24:59); and Mikel J. Koven, author of "La Dolce Morte: Vernacular Cinema and the Italian Giallo" (25:04), who explains how the film bridges the giallo and slasher films. All but the Koven interview are in Italian with subtitles. There also is a 47-minute Q&A with Sergio Martino from 2017. Grade: film 3 stars; extras 4 stars