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Monster Trucks (2016)
Paramount Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 4/11/2017
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 3/23/2017
What was the first fake trailer that you saw? My first recollection of something like this was catching Hardware Wars on HBO back in the late 70s. While it's technically a short film at 13 minutes, it plays like a real trailer for a Star Wars spoof movie which doesn't exist. I then discovered things like Kentucky Fried Movie and The Groove Tube which contained examples of the genre. From there, television shows like Saturday Night Live really ran with the idea of previews for fake movies, and today we see them all the time. It's become such a part of the zeitgeist that every once in a while you'll come across an advertisement for a real movie which feels so unbelievably strange that it feels fake. That was my reaction when I saw the trailer for Monster Trucks. But, as it turns out folks, this movie is real...real weird.
High school student Tripp (Lucas Till) isn't very happy with his life. His mom (Amy Ryan) is dating the local sheriff (Barry Pepper), leaving little time for Tripp. He works in a junkyard, where he is surrounded by old cars, yet he has no car of his own. Then, one night, Tripp's life changes. Terravex, an oil company, has been drilling nearby, and their equipments breaks through into an underground ocean. Strange creatures emerge from the drill-site, and one finds its way into the junkyard. Tripp discovers the beast and soon learns that it's harmless and that it lives off of oil. The monster, which Tripp calls "Creech", takes up residence in the shell of a truck which Tripp is attempting to restore, and Tripp is amazed to see that "Creech" can give the truck power. As Tripp customizes the truck so that "Creech" can serve as its engine, a group of Terravex employees, lead by Burke (Hold McCallany), will stop at nothing to get the monster back and cover up their secret.
Monster Trucks is almost hard to describe because half of the movie is so bizarre. The basic premise falls squarely into the E.T rip-off category. We have a boy is somewhat of an outsider and down on his luck who finds and befriends a creature who he must hide from the authorities. As the story progresses, the boy learns that the creature has specific abilities and that the creature wants to go home. Along the way, he also finds someone who he can trust and that helps to build their relationship (in the case of Monster Trucks, Tripp gets close to Meredith (Jane Levy), a girl from school.) The story climaxes with a big chase as the boy tries to save the creature. It's as if someone took a checklist from this subgenre and attempted to meet them all.
But, when you drill down to the specifics of Monster Trucks, this where you see just how weird this movie is. There are probably some people who would find "Creech" cute, but he a big octopus-looking blob who is simply odd looking. This bizarre appearance is made stranger by the anthropomorphism which is applied to "Creech". He's clearly intelligent, which is fine, but he also smiles and laughs. As mentioned above, the monster lives off of oil. Sure, this makes sense, but within any sort of conservation frame-work, it feels excessive. For reasons which are never fully explained, "Creech" can make Tripp's truck move, so Tripp customizes the vehicle so that "Creech" can ride in the front of the truck and serve as the engine. Weird! Tripp then drives the truck around town with various tentacles flopping out from time-to-time. These joyrides end up being quite destructive, as Tripp and "Creech" do a lot of property damage. What kind of message is this movie trying to send? Also, the movie doesn't hesitate to show Tripp being put into danger during the finale.
The question that we must ask here is, "What is Monster Trucks' target audience?" Ostensibly, it's a family film, but, again, there are some odd messages here. I can assume that it's aimed at young boys, as they supposedly like trucks and monsters. But, will they buy any of this. One things for sure, the entire movie feels like an advertisement for Dodge Ram trucks. I certainly applaud anyone who tries something different, and it's interesting that Ice Age and Robots director Chris Wedge chose this as his first live-action project. I assume that there is an audience out there somewhere, but for most, they will be watching it simply to confirm that it's a real movie.
Monster Trucks...hey, why do I suddenly have the urge to buy a Dodge Truck?...on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look great, as the movie offers a nice range of blues and greens, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is impressive and the depth looks very nice, even in this 2D version. The Disc carries a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 5.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This is a muscular track which really shows off during the action scenes. The stereo and surround sound effects are very detailed and show a nice amount of presence. The roar of the trucks and the movements of "Creech" deliver strong subwoofer effects. Overall, the audio moves well from speaker-to-speaker.
The Monster Trucks Blu-ray Disc contains several extra features. "Who's Driving the Monster Trucks?" (7 minutes) is a pretty standard making-of featurette which contains comments from the cast and creative team, clips, and on-set footage. The comments are simply a general conversation about the story and themes of the film. "The Monster in the Truck" (5 minutes) gives an overview of the design and creation of "Creech", including a tour of the animation studio. "Creating the Monster Truck" (6 minutes) examines the work which went into designing and building Tripp's truck. The Disc contains six DELETED SCENES which run about 9 minutes. This includes a few incidental scenes with Tripp and Meredith and two additional action shots. We also get a 5-minute GAG REEL. "Production Diaries" (10 minutes) contains ten brief segments which explore various aspects of the film's production.
Review Copyright 2017 by Mike Long