‘Monster Trucks’ review: “A good-natured adventure for all the family.”
There are some films that you simply cannot bring yourself to criticise in aggressive fashion, films that are so harmless that you end up feeling kind of mean tearing it apart. Monster Trucks is a pretty routine film; it never strives to push the envelope or delivering anything all that surprising and it is as subtle as, well, a monster truck. But despite this, Monster Trucks remains good fun and should prove to be an enjoyable post-Christmas cinema trip for all the family.
When an ethically dubious oil company drills down into a pressurised pocket beneath the Earth’s crust they discover a lost race of creatures, capturing two of them. One escapes and, what with having an appetite for oil, seeks refuge at a scrapyard. There it encounters high schooler Trip (Lucas Till), who begins to form a bond with the creature, particularly once he finds out it can operate his run-down monster truck. Soon enough though, shady figures begin to start poking around.
Monster Trucks follows a similar dynamic and plotting to E.T., in that a boy meets an other-worldly creature make friends and race against time to return said creature home, except swap out the Reese’s Pieces for oil and the BMX bikes for monster trucks. And, consider that it is nowhere in ET’s league. It follows a well-beaten track and is content to do nothing to change it. Therefore, what follows is a by-the-numbers family friendly picture which is so harmless that it ends up being quite charming.
Chris Wedge, who directed the first Ice Age, keeps things very breezy, pacing the proceedings so that there is rarely a dull moment, despite a lot of the gags falling flat. It is a distracting enough hour and a half with kinetic action sequences which do very well to have a strong sense of momentum, serving as an engaging enough distraction even for older members of the audience.
The cast are relatively competent throughout. It is rather hard to buy Lucas Till and love interest Jane Levy as high school students, but Levy in particularly is a very charismatic screen presence. Till doesn’t fair as well, due mainly to the fact that his character Trip (stupid name) is never all that worthy of our sympathy, proving to be a little too arrogant and abrasive to be all that likeable a hero. Elsewhere, the cast is made up of dependable familiar faces such as Amy Ryan, Berry Pepper, Rob Lowe, Danny Glover and a very funny Thomas Lennon.
The monster itself is of generic design, but there is some personality to him, compensating just enough for the very inconsistent quality of visual effects. It is a character design that is occasionally a little grotesque which may make him hard for younger audiences to full embrace, but most of its characteristics are cute enough for the target demographic to enjoy the character on screen.
Monster Trucks is not a film that you’ll remember in a hurry, or one you’ll probably ever feel the need to revisit, it simply too light-weight that it will just float away very soon after you’ve seen it. But if you’re wanting to get the family out of the house after the Christmas madness, this will most certainly prove to be distracting enough for the little ones, and suitably entertaining to keep your mind harmlessly distracted for a brief interlude.
What Do You Think?
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