Monster Trucks Blu-ray Review
I’m curious about the dusty, cluttered shelves that contain bought and forgotten scripts or finished films waiting to see the light of the day in Hollywood. I’m sure it’s a wonderfully fascinating graveyard for creativity because sometimes the lengthy mutations these scripts endure kill what originality they once had. The ones that escape that necropolis surely become monstrosities of cinema. They premiere at theaters like film relics of a bygone generation or fleeting thoughts of a once brilliant idea. But maybe I’m being a little overdramatic about a studio making creative choices based on what their financial director says.
Viacom is one of those. They lost in a big way back in 2016. The studio didn’t publicly point fingers, but some entertainment reporters followed the burning money trail and found the culprit, MONSTER TRUCKS. It’s a movie you’ve probably never heard of, mainly because it wasn’t advertised and it lasted less than 10 weeks at the box office. It cost a whopping $125 million to make and barely made half of that back on a global scale. Is the movie that bad? No. But it certainly makes you question the executives of the studio for writing such a massive check.
MONSTER TRUCKS plays out like FERNGULLY at a demolition rally. The movie begins with an incident at a fracking oil rig in North Dakota. From the toxic and acidic sludge come three monsters, which look a lot like an octopus and shark made a baby. They have rows of jagged teeth and numerous tentacles. While the creatures are genuinely frightening to look at, they warm up to friendly humans like puppy dogs. One of these creatures manages to evade capture and winds up hidden in a junkyard where it meets Tripp (Till).
Tripp, while working on his banged up Chevy truck, comes across the monster and takes a liking to it. He finds out that the creature operates and functions within his rust bucket truck and turns into a working vehicle. His classmate and crush, Meredith (Levy), finds out that the creature is subterranean and feeds off oil. Without questioning if they should alert an adult or call the authorities about monsters coming from within the Earth, they name their creature/pet Cheech.
There are bad guys in MONSTER TRUCKS. They come in the form of an insidious oil company, trying to figure out what the creatures are and putting a lid on the entire situation. The thinly laid out plan comes from the CEO and is subtly implied because of the overall environmental theme of the movie, but it feels illogical that the head honcho would have inside knowledge and keep such an interest in one of hundreds, if not thousands, of the company’s oil rigs. I’m not sure if MONSTER TRUCKS, at any point, was trying to make a statement on fracking.
MONSTER TRUCKS illogical missteps can be forgiven for the simple fact that it’s a harmless kid’s movie that doesn’t deliver a cruddy message. But it doesn’t quite deliver an impactful message about taking care of the Earth. When you reflect on the fact that the creatures devour oil and power vehicles, created by oil, it spoils whatever message it had intended to present. FERNGULLY was a mess, but it at least didn’t muddy its environmental message about deforestation. It’s hard to feel in touch with Mother Earth with these made-up Nickelodeon squid creatures.
When the monsters actually take the wheel and MONSTER TRUCKS cranks out some car chases, they’re quite exciting. Its clear most of the budget went to these chases, which are realistically looking and thrilling. But as a stand-alone film, or even in the possible first of many, MONSTER TRUCKS doesn’t warrant enough creative sparks or infectious storytelling that we’ve seen from other live-action kids movies like JUMANJI, WILLY WONKA or BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA. It shouldn’t take a multi-million dollar loss for a studio to learn that kind of lesson.
BLU RAY REVIEW
Video: (1080p HD Widescreen 2:40:1) Despite sitting on the shelf for years, the CGI is decent and it comes through clearly on this blu-ray.
Audio: (English TrueHD Master Audio 7.1) The dialogue, action sequences and SFX are blended seamlessly on this blu-ray.
Who’s Driving the Monster Trucks? (7:06): This takes a look at the cast, specifically Jane Levy and Lucas Till. Director Chris Wedge also talks about the casting choice and the actors working with CGI.
The Monster in the Truck (4:57): This feature talks about creating the monsters for the screen, as well as crafting the CGI to make it look like the creatures were physically maneuvering and powering the truck.
Creating the Monster Truck (6:29): This is a slight continuation of the previous feature, but instead it focuses on Tripp’s truck and how they managed to do some of the stunts they did with the vehicle.
Gag Reel (4:35): This is what you’d expect from a gag reel, joking and fun on set.
Deleted Scenes (8:36): There are six scenes altogether that really don’t add anything to the story. These are just scenes that allow for Tripp to goof around more and create more chemistry
between him and the monster or Meredith.
Production Diaries (10:13): This feature acts like a multi-part time capsule as we get short looks at different scenes and how they were filmed. It’s a more intimate look that feels a lot more free and fluid than a structured behind-the-scenes look. There are 10 different features contained within this feature.