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REVIEW: Monster Trucks

Monster Trucks

I’m going to hold my hands up high and declare that I didn’t hate Monster Trucks. Did I love it? Of course not. There’s very little to love in this familiar moral tale that warns of the dangers of oil drilling and damaging the environment, while promoting the importance of following your dreams and fighting for good. Stamping on the big guy. Proving the small man can win, etc.

The story follows Tripp (Lucas Till) who works at a garage building a monster truck made from scrap metal. He lives in a down-beaten, dull town and yearns for bigger things, hoping that his truck will lead him on the road to better things and a freedom he is yet to find. An accident at an oil drilling site offers him the opportunity when a tentacled monster is unleashed from the ground; with a love for speed, the monster jumps in to Tripp’s truck and puts the pedal to the metal, taking Tripp and his lady friend Meredith (Jane Levy) on one hell of an adventure.

Monster Trucks was not made for critics or for audiences over the age of twelve, so it’s no surprise to see that this film is probably not going to appeal to 99% of the people reading this review. However, below the surface of its need for speed and general sense of “wahoooo!”, Monster Trucks has a solid – albeit familiar – message about the environment which is relevant, even if it’s not particularly earth-shattering. Remembering that this film is targeted at kids and early teens, it will do no harm for them to be reminded of the importance of saving animals (or tentacled car-loving monsters), returning them to their habitat and learning that going against the grain can sometimes be a good thing.

Tripp’s characterisation, again, is not the most refreshing and there are around 1.25 million films that follow various characters wishing for more than life has dished them. Nonetheless, it is a feeling that many will associate with and, once again, especially those young teenagers that the film is targeting. Remembering that school is not everything – although, very important – and that you can educate yourself in the wide world, too, will appeal to those that feel out-of-place in the education system. And, what’s wrong with that? Tripp skimps out of school – to the annoyance of Meredith who is keen to excel in a project they’ve been teamed up on – but, he goes on to achieve different greatness by following his dreams and committing to something outside of school.

Yes, the film is that cheesy. It’s all about the greater good and never backing down, making sure you listen to your heart and never give up, etc. The script is bursting with lines that’ll have you cringing; especially from Tripp’s almost nemesis Sheriff Rick (Barry Pepper) who loves to tell Tripp how rubbish a human he is. Alas, all this negativity feeds Tripp’s desire to leave the town, encouraging us to never let the dickheads (excuse my French) get us down.

As to be expected, there’s a whole heap of exciting action sequences in there, too. They are ridiculous. Almost Fast and Furious 7 levels of ridiculous, but they’re also a ridiculous amount of fun. Who doesn’t want to see a monster-driven truck jump off a 1000ft (estimate) cliff? Exactly, you all know you do. The CGI isn’t even that bad and despite the film’s bizarre similarities to the Sharktopus films (particularly the one with the Pteracuda), the special effects are not B-movie level.

All in all, this isn’t going to be an Oscar-nominated cult classic that will go down in history as a genre-bending masterpiece, but, I didn’t fall asleep when I watched it and I only sighed a couple of times. Kids will find it fun and parents will probably want to sob into their popcorn, but it’s really not that bad. Average, but not terrible, Monster Trucks is an unforgettable ride packed with familiar moral lessons and a heart that is undoubtedly in the right place.

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SiREN Review


SiREN grows upon the mythology created in a segment in anthology film, V/H/S. The segment plays well at the beginning of the feature film and creates a deep mythology already and eludes to it as little as possible in its brief running-time. This time, director Gregg Bishop has a full feature-length to play with in his mythology, reinventing the world and bringing new characters with a similar dynamic to the segment itself. Amateur Night, the title of the segment, had promise for an expansion it seemed. Sadly, the feature film proves otherwise with all of the exhilaration and interest of the succinct short, evaporating as it lingers along.

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REVIEW: The Possession Experiment (2016)


Horror loving student, Brandon Jensen, is fascinated by the dark and occult. When provided the opportunity to delve into the world of exorcism, Brandon dives into a case from twenty years ago. Investigating further, he discovers an object that will allow him to make contact with the other side… offer himself to the unknown for possession. With crowdfunding and the assistance of Clay and Leda, Brandon hopes to prove to the whole world that possession is real; however, none of them will be ready for the consequences of such a choice in life…and death.

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REVIEW: It Watches (2016)


After recovering from an accident that has left him with memory loss, Andre (Ivan Djurovic) agrees to house sit for a friend with just his video camera for company. As night begins to set and strange occurrences start happening, Andre starts to believe that he may not be alone.

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REVIEW: On The Brain (2016)


On The Brain follows a small-town sheriff caught up in a series of mysterious murders which lead him to think there is something seriously wrong with the townsfolk. All of a sudden they are raging lunatics that are intent on killing for no apparent reason. Or, at least, that’s what we are initially led to believe. However, as the film progresses, a terrible reason for the violent deaths soon emerges and it appears something is infecting the people, causing them to turn into cold-hearted killers.

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REVIEW: A Monster Calls (2016)


(Warning: When you see this film…take tissues. Take lots and lots of tissues. Heck, take a box, because otherwise there will be an Alice in Wonderland-esque sea of tears ready to drift you right out of the theatre and you’ll only have yourself to blame!)

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REVIEW: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)


To generations of children and adults alike, Harry Potter is one of the greatest book franchises ever, centring on a young boy who is told he is a wizard and sent to study magic at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The seven book series spanned eight films, a theatre production, tonnes of merchandise as well as theme parks across the world.

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REVIEW: Arrival (2016)


We have seen it all before. Aliens come down, humans fear them, the ones in charge are eager to press the button. Yet Denis Villeneuve never does anything straightforward. Instead, the director uses the classic format to tell a touching story that harnesses a universal and profound message. It’s not take me to your leader; more like take me to your lecturer.

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Review: Nocturnal Animals (2016)


Nocturnal Animals follows Susan Morrow, a successful art gallery owner struggling for emotional and creative satisfaction in her life. Suddenly, she receives the manuscript for a novel written by her ex-husband, Edward; a violent tale of murder, revenge and the darkest moral questions. As she moves through the book, she finds herself looking back on her past and her relationship with Edward, desperately seeing symbolic associations and perceived attacks within the dark tones of his tale, leading to her malaise reaching a level of crisis as she seeks catharsis for her past transgressions.

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Review: Train to Busan (2016)


The zombie genre is one that, for the love of an obvious pun, never seems to die. From the Romero classics, through to the increasingly aware works of reinterpretation and homage at the start of the new century, represented most iconically by 28 Days Later and Shaun of the Dead, the zombie horde comes back, again and again. However, like the zombies themselves, the genre has once again fallen into another tired stumble for a familiar, and predictable, formula. As such, the arrival of a film as vital and compelling as Yeon Sang-ho’s Train to Busan feels not simply like a true revival, but one of the most impressive and satisfying experiences in the history of the genre.

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