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.