A movie that is truly absolutely everything its title says it is; Monster Trucks. The film is literally about a truck that is pretty much controlled by a monster. Star Lucas Till says “Its everything the title says it is”. Its a trailer that was sort of groaned at and laughed at or people weirded out by a “What the heck is this?” reaction. So, yeah, it was pretty much dead on arrival. When it opened in January, its numbers underwhelmed. I couldn’t find the budget, but from the sounds of it, this thing cost too much and lost a lot of money. However, for the scoffy adults, this movie was obviously not made for them (or was it?). Now, we’ll see if a generation of kids picks up on this movie when it comes home on April 11th to Blu-ray (Digitally March 28th).
Tripp is a high school senior with a knack for building trucks who makes an incredible discovery – a gas-guzzling creature named Creech. To protect his mischievous new friend, Tripp hides Creech under the hood of his latest creation, turning it into a real-life super-powered Monster Truck. Together, this unlikely duo with a shared taste for speed team up on a wild and unforgettable journey to reunite Creech with his family.
Monster Trucks really isn’t that bad of a movie. Its a relic of another time. Had this exact same movie been released in the 1980s, I could see it being embraced on some super nostalgia by loving adults of my own generation. Instead they sit and roll their eyes at it, which is the exact sort of thing they would have been begging their parents to take them to at the theater when it opened and wanted the respective toys in the Happy Meal of it after the show was over. Its got all of those kind of qualities going for it, and even really plays like one. The film doesn’t try to act to smart, only intelligent enough for its world and intended audience. What it really just wants to do is be a positive force and have some fun.
If you look closely, this movie has a pretty awesome cast. While some, like Amy Ryan and Danny Glover, obviously were only there for a couple days’ work, they still have a good effect. Rob Lowe and Thomas Lennon share some real funny scenes that really play on the adult funny bone. Jane Levy continues to be a bright light in every film she’s in. The real surprise here for me is Lucas Till. He’s someone I thought was just one of those generic blonde, meathead actors and he proves to be a lot more here. Till is incredibly energetic, smiling and able to pull of some very weird, very fun and wild scenes with such ease. You’ve never seen him like this before.
While the film brings a lot of kid fun and plays towards them, it does so with some really impressive car action and special effects to boot. The film manages a successful marriage of practical effects, stunt work and CGI to make an image that feels immersive and believable to get through. There are chases throughout that brings some really swift intensity. There a semi that gets bounced around in one scene that leaves you like “Woah”. No, the Fast and the Furious and Mad Max franchises don’t need to check its rear view, but for a kids film of this ilk, its still rather more than you’d expect or ask for which is kinda rewarding in a way.
Well, I’m pretty surprised. One, that the film was mildly enjoyable and a pretty nifty one for kids. Two, Lucas Till showed a side of him I never expected I’d ever see. Three, that this was just torn apart by critics. Its like they just decided to go off their feelings from the trailer and sleep through the movie. I mean, this actually features some really well done and nicely shot action sequences. Hell, I prefer the stuff here to some of the wannabe shaky cam action and its far more inventive, fresh and “good” compared to something people actually went to see like Suicide Squad. Plus, its got a wealth of good character actors to chew up scenery and the wonderful Jane Levy co-starring. As mentioned above, this isn’t bad, this is just a relic of another time.
Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Clarity/Detail: Monster Trucks has a very bright, more vivid bold image in its Blu-ray debut. It would have been neat to have seen how this would have translated to Ultra-HD, but oh well. It features some really strong coloring to go with a sharp, crisp image. Its a lively look that really pops off the screen pretty well. Detail is also very strong in it, with many forest trails, leaves, dirt and such looking really discernible in the image. This is much more than a satisfactory image.
Depth: A real good three dimensional feel comes with monster trucks. Backgrounds feel a nice separation and pushback look in sweeping camera shots. Character and object movements look smooth and natural with very minimal blurring or jutter.
Black Levels: Blacks are rich and deep with good saturation and dispersion in this transfer. No crushing witnessed during this viewing and hidden details are at the very minimum.
Color Reproduction: Blues look really strong as well as oranges and greens. Many of the primary colors here are strong. Even when not vivid there is a real full and lively feel to them.
Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent throughout the duration of the film. A really strong, bold look to the skin. Details like freckles, stubble, wrinkles and make-up can be made on faces in close ups and medium shots.
Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD ready), English Audio Description, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Dynamics: Monster Trucks boasts a decent Atmos track. Its got a hair bit of a muffled sound overall, but its pretty solid. If you’re looking for a more bass-friendly track, this one will cover it. Its heavy in the mix, sometimes overbearing a bit on the vocals and scoring. Having heard many Atmos and DTS:X tracks, this one doesn’t have the looseness of most and almost feels like it could have just sufficed with a 5.1 mix at times with some of the creativity in weaving the mix.
Height: There are some solid moments with the above ceiling speakers, a lot coming from shots inside the cabs of cars.
Low Frequency Extension: Booming engines, crashing, factory sounds and more really give a deep thump from the subwoofer.
Surround Sound Presentation: The seven channels are utilized decently and do have their moments, but I’m left feeling it could have had just a little bit more fun. As it is though, there are some good moments with unique sounds in different channels and movements find good accuracy.
Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are good and clear. They could have been a little bit louder at a few points in the mix, however.
Monster Trucks comes with the DVD edition, an UltraViolet Digital Copy of the film and some collector decals.
Who’s Driving The Monster Trucks? (HD, 7:06) – A real quick brush through of making the film through interview bits with cast and crew. Danny Glover says he told his agent that he had to do this movie as it is sure to be a “fantastic journey”.
The Monster In The Truck (HD, 4:57) – This featurette focuses on the design and animation of the monster as well as featuring some of the footage of the truck blue screen and such to accompany post animation.
Creating The Monster Truck (HD, 6:29) – A featurette with the angle on the truck itself and the overall functionality of it and how it was used in the film.
Gag Reel (HD, 4:35)
Deleted Scenes (HD, 8:36)
Production Diarires (HD, 10:13) – Really quick little behind the scenes/interview/making of bits that barely are a minute in length (If that) and include; Barrel Roll, Avoiding Traffic (Deleted Scene), Green Suits & Green Screens, Remote Control, Hydraulics, Rob Lowe, Fake Truck Driving, First Contact, Truck Spin, Vintage Truck
Monster Trucks maybe be big and silly, but its a fun big and silly for the whole family to enjoy. I was expecting a dump truck and got a pretty solid vehicle that’ll get me here and there for a few years. This Blu-ray features a rock solid transfer and decent Dolby Atmos track. The extras are decent, though very simple (Probably to be more kid-friendly). Also, I love the actual art on the case compared to the sleeve (If that matters). At a decent discount, pick this up for your kids.