DIR: Chris Wedge • WRI: Derek Connolly • PRO: Mary Parent, Denis L. Stewart • DOP: Don Burgess • ED: Conrad Buff IV • DES: Andrew Menzies • MUS: David Sardy • CAST: Lucas Till; Jane Levy; Frank Whaley
Having directed previous animated films such as Ice Age and Robots, Chris Wedge has now created his first live-action film with Monster Trucks. Lucas Till plays Tripp, a teenager disillusioned living in a small town, dreaming of a bigger and better life elsewhere. Tripp’s town is home to an oil rig belonging to a major corporation called Terravex. The corporation attempts to drill deeper at the town’s site to extract more oil, but encounters a significant problem. Three creatures escape from the newly-drilled area and wreck the site. Terravex contains two of these creatures, but one escapes.
Tripp, working alone in a scrapyard, encounters the rogue creature and the pair somehow bond. Their bonding session is interrupted when Terravex’s team arrive at the scrapyard to retrieve this creature. The creature hides in Tripp’s car and the Terravex team leave, but become suspicious of Tripp. What Tripp doesn’t know is that this creature can hide inside the car, but also drive it at high speeds with its body. Tripp and the creature, newly-renamed Creech, then embark on an adventure to avoid the evil clutches of the Terravex corporation.
On the basis of his previous works, Chris Wedge’s output is dedicated towards a younger audience, and Monster Trucks is definitely a film for younger cinemagoers. On the surface, this film boasts impressive CGI for the character of Creech, as well as the chase scenes and stunts, which should delight younger viewers. The film’s overall message is positive, especially in this type of film genre, and should educate audiences about environmental issues such as the abuse of nature by oil companies lusting for profits at the expense of others.
CGI aside, this film is quite lacklustre. Derek Connolly’s script is devoid of any real character arcs and the emphasis is placed upon the action scenes. Some lines of dialogue are beyond cringeworthy and it’s a familiar turn from Connolly, as his co-written script for Jurassic World experienced the same problems where dinosaurs and high heels overshadowed the film’s human characters. Lucas Till’s Tripp is poorly fleshed out and there’s meant to be this desire to leave town, but is never touched upon after he mentions it in the first act. There is also an embarrassing attempt at a clichéd absent father storyline, which falls laughingly flat.
Tripp is also wrongly-casted, as Till is in his mid-20s and there is no believability in the teenage Tripp. There are also fleeting appearances from Danny Glover and Rob Lowe. The latter plays an antagonising figure, but literally becomes another incorrect casting decision.
This film is designed for younger viewers and should appeal to them. Although, Monster Trucks is reminiscent of E.T., with a similar storyline of an alien creature discovered by a human, befriending them, and then avoiding those attempting to seize the creature. For young and old alike, E.T. is full of wonder and awe that can delight any audience. The same cannot be said for Monster Trucks which worryingly had its release date delayed several times since 2015.
Despite its multiple negatives, Monster Trucks boasts fantastic CGI effects for Creech, and this will aid its overall plot in earning a positive reception from its target market.
PG (See IFCO for details)
Monster Trucks is released 3rd February 2017