HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Monster Trucks
HTS Overall Score:81
It seems that Hollywood is really trying to make movies out of EVERYTHING lately. Even video games and inanimate objects like “Tetris the Movie” (yes that’s a thing), “Angry Birds”, and now “Monster Trucks”. All of us grew up with those hot wheels monster trucks that we made little motor sounds with our mouths and some of us were even redneck enough to go to Monster truck bashes where real monster trucks would run over and smash cars with impunity and have all out chicken fights with (yes, I’m guilty of that, I live in the Southwest). The trailer for “Monster Trucks” didn’t instill much confidence in the viewer that this is what we were going to see. Instead it was a cutesy looking family film that had MONSTERS inside of monster trucks and the standard Disneyish live action adventure would ensue. Well, that’s exactly what the film is and surprisingly is not half bad.
Tripp (Lucas Till) is your average teenage boy living in a Podunk town in North Dakota. He works at a junkyard crushing cars for Mr. Weathers (Danny Glover) while dreaming about getting a truck of his own and getting out of Dodge as soon as he can. He’s kind of the “picked on” kid from all the rich snobs (including one driving a bright green monster truck that we see is going to be commandeered from the trailer) abuse and sneer at for being the son of a divorced mom living on the scraps of the community. Things change for Lucas when the big bad evil oil drilling corporation headed over by the cold hearted Reece Tenneson (Rob Lowe being a jerk like only Rob Lowe can do) drills through a water plateau in an effort to get to an underground oil reservoir and accidentally unleashes trio of subterranean beasts out into the wild. Two are immediately captured by the company’s head of security (Holt Mcallany) but the third slips away, only to be discovered by Tripp in Mr. Weather’s junk yard.
Naturally the two form a bond and soon it becomes clear that this monster (nicknamed Creetch) has some really nifty abilities. One of them being able to slide itself under a monster truck’s body and use its tentacled body to run the empty shell better than any truck alive. Excited at the prospect of having his own truck, Tripp gets to work adjusting junk heap to be his new ride. Sooner or later the security team from the oil corporation come digging and around and with the help of cute tutor Meredith (Jane Levy), Tripp and Creetch are on an all-out adventure to stop the big bad evil oil company from poisoning the rest of Creetch’s family AND get his newfound friend back home.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=95041[/img]“Monster Trucks” really has its heart in the right place. It’s cheesy and definitely more than a bit over CGI’d, but it really tries its hardest to be a fun family friendly movie. It’s mainly a concept that has been beaten to death by Live Action Disney movies in the past (think “The Absent Minded Professor” or “Pete’s Dragon”) by having the classic team up of monster and kid (or 27 year old adult trying to play a teenager) in an “escape” against the giant corporation trying to be dastardly and evil (well, not TOO evil as nobody dies despite fiery car wrecks and militarized private security forces trying to “take care of” the situation). The movie is like “Transformers” In a way. It’s glitzy, shiny and things go “boom, rawr boom!” with lots of bright colors, but really there’s not a whole lot going on under the hood. The chemistry is decent enough between the leads, and the action is actually pretty fun at times, but it’s a fairly cliched outing with many a well worn trope utilized in the creation of the script.
Honestly, I always raise my eyes when we see actors over the age of 25 – 30 trying to play a 17 or 18 year old highschooler. I live less than 2 miles from a local high school and I’ve NEVER seen a high schooler look like their movie counterpart. Well, all that aside, Lucas Till (best known for Havoc in “X-men First Class”) and Jane Levy have some pretty decent chemistry together and while Creetch is nothing but a CGI monster, his interaction with the duo is pretty cute. It’s strange seeing Danny Glover in any new movie as the guy is in his 80s by now and is much more subdued than when he was king of cinema with Mel Gibson, but there’s still a sparkle in his eyes that belie the age creeping up on him. Rob Lowe isn’t TOO involved and you can tell he’s asleep at the helm, but he’s so natural at playing a complete and utter jerk that he doesn’t even HAVE to put forth any effort to turn in a decent performance in that respect. A little more pep though and it would have increased his performance a lot being that he looked bored spitless the whole film.
Rated PG for action, peril, brief scary images, and some rude humor
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=95049[/img]Once again I can’t find out any concrete information on the cameras used or the resolution of the D.I., but “Monster Trucks” dazzles on a technical level. The picture is shiny and ultra glossy with plenty of primary color pop to make videophiles drool over what’s on screen. There are copious amounts of greens, reds, blues and the like ranging from the clear coated paint jobs of the monster trucks themselves, or the bio luminescent coloring on the monsters themselves. Fine detailing is amazing with every crease and wrinkle on clothing visible to the naked eye as well as every bolt and rust stain and Tripp’s old clunky “truck”. Black levels are deep and inky without showing off any major black crush and the shadow detail during the underwater shots are impressive (and even more impressive is the lack of banding in said underwater shots. Something I’ve almost become accustomed to seeing on Blu-ray). I was a little saddened by the lack of 4K UHD for the title, as it looks AMAZING on Blu-ray and I was kind of eager to see how UHD would look with so much colors on screen. Supposedly there was rumors that the 4K release was cancelled (there were initially pre-orders for the 4K on many retailer sites), but when Paramount announced the title officially for home video it was sadly absent. Still an amazing looking Blu-ray.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=95057[/img]“Monster Trucks” comes to Blu-ray with an Atmos audio track from Paramount and I was REALLY eager to dive into it. The trailer promised plenty of action and some pretty cool use of the overheads if done right. Interestingly enough it’s a GOOD track (quite good in fact), but the extra Atmos overhead use and immersion levels that we’ve come to expect from the format just isn’t as high as I would expect. In fact the overheads are relegate to just a couple of scenes (such as when Tripp and Creetch pull that giant flip from the trailer or when he’s coming down from overhead and you can hear his tentacles squishing). Past that it’s your standard 7.1 track. LFE is a bit restrained for most of the film, but there are some really hard hitting moments (listen when Creetch is tranquilized in his attempt to free his parents) and when the monster trucks rip and roar up the mountainside (the giant dumptruck has some awesome LFE for sure). Surrounds are good, but most of the time it’s the score that takes up the surround usage, even though the rest of the track is more than effective enough.
• Who's Driving the Monster Trucks?
• The Monster in the Truck
• Creating the Monster Truck
• Gag Reel
• Deleted Scenes
• Production Diaries
“Monster Trucks” is a silly flick for sure, and definitely aimed at the more juvenile PG friendly audience than adults. Comparisons to “Transformers” (Michael Bay’s versions at least) are pretty clear, and while the trailer didn’t instill much confidence in this reviewer, I have to admit it was still pretty fun, and I’m a 35-year-old man who likes to see things blow up while drinking beer. Admittedly the story is more than a bit cheesy, but the its good family fun and combined with the awesome visuals and good audio I had a very pleasant watch. Wouldn’t exactly go out and buy it day one, but it makes for a very entertaining family rental that keeps it appropriate for all members of the family. Rental
Starring: Lucas Till, Jane Levy, Thomas Lennon
Directed by: Chris Wedge
Written by: Derek Connoly, Matthew Robinson
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (TrueHD 7.1 Core), French, Spanish, Portuguese DD 5.1
Runtime: 105 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: April 11th, 2017
Buy Monster Trucks On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Family Rental
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