Poor Monster Trucks. It hasn’t been an easy road for Paramount’s children-friendly blockbuster. Delayed multiple times, largely forgotten or ignored by the general public, dumped into an unflattering January 2017 release date and given a premature $115 million write-off from its own studio, it’s as if nobody loves this misguided mess of a film, including the critics.
The first wave of reviews are now in and as expected, they’re not flattering. Check out a handful of them below, and expect a lot of truck puns.
Hey, how about monster trucks with…wait for it…real monsters in them? Cool, right? That’s essentially the gist of the pitch in search of an actual plot that is Monster Trucks, a tone-deaf mix of live action and computer-generated animation that never engagingly clicks into gear.
It has tentacles and hot wheels, yes, but not the legs or bright ideas to sustain itself.
The concept was never good enough to support a movie of this scale, and those early-word spoilers have destroyed what little enthusiasm there might have been for such a movie — which is sort of a shame, since the creative team managed to assemble a sturdy forbidden-friendship movie, where men in black want to separate a well-meaning human from his misunderstood pet.
A $125m demolition derby. The movie is completely innocuous, passably enjoyable in fits and spurts, and clearly a giant mistake. Shot back in the spring of 2014, and significantly reshaped in the interim, it’s been waiting to skulk onto our screens at an opportune moment.
What if monster trucks had real live monsters in them? This remarkably idiotic idea has been developed into a movie by one-time studio president Adam Goodman at the behest of his then four-year-old son. What could possibly go wrong? … With low, low expectations in mind, the film is not utterly atrocious. A workaday mash-up of ET and Transformers, its messy central conceit makes you wonder what that four-year-old was smoking, but it’s still a marked improvement on the most recent Transformers films.
A throwback to the 1980s family creature features, this achieves at least Batteries Not Included levels of charm, though it never approaches the heights of E.T. A ludicrous concept is given pace and goofy humour but it doesn’t give its human characters enough room to shine amid the set piece car chases.
The plotting, of which almost nothing makes sense and tangential thoughts momentarily appear (Tripp has severe daddy issues born out of something never explained) has the grandiose feeling of a think-tank of writers slamming their faces against the keys just days before production. The story is credited to three different people which begs the question, how? How? How is that of those three writers, not a single person chose to stand up and declare the entire affair a farce?
In considering Monster Trucks, I’d invite you to imagine a really bad Transformers movie. And you’d say to me: no imagination needed, we’ve seen that really bad Transformers movie once/ twice/ three times/ delete as applicable. But Michael Bay’s films, however hateful, are always big, grand, whiz bang, state of the art occasions. Monster Trucks is a timid throwback; Transformers in the style of an old Herbie movie.
It’s not all doom-and-gloom, however, as the movie did get one mildly favorable review from Total Film:
Ice Age’s Chris Wedge swaps animation for live action with this fun creature feature, in which a squid monster at risk from an oil concern takes refuge inside teenager Tripp’s (Lucas Till) SUV… Rob Lowe provides colour as a Southern-accented sleazeball, while the Free Willy finale has enough vehicular mayhem to excuse its dodgy FX. Transformers-lite for Finding Dory fans who can’t wait to drive.
It also got a somewhat decent review from The Sun, too.
I had presumed this was an adaptation of a toy brand – a la Angry Birds or Transformers, but no – it’s an all new (if unoriginal) adventure which ends up being rather good fun.
While it could’ve been worse, it certainly could’ve been a hell of a lot better. But things were never set to come nicely to little ole’ Monster Trucks. In any case, you can see for yourself if the movie deserves all its criticism (or not, I suppose) when it hits theatres on January 13th, 2017.