Action Adventure

'Monster Trucks' Blu-ray Review: A creature feature for kids of all ages

April 11, 2017Ben MK

With a title like Monster Trucks and a premise that revolves around a prehistoric dolphin-octopus hybrid that inhabits the underbelly of an oversized pickup, Ice Age director Chris Wedge's live-action debut evokes the kind of schlocky, B-movie vibe most moviegoers — not to mention, critics — would typically go out of their way to avoid.

The film follows Tripp (Lucas Till), a teenager with a penchant for all things vehicular and a longing to escape his midwestern hometown, which mega-corporation Terravex Energy has all but taken over in its pursuit of the bottom line. When Terravex's unscrupulous oil drilling unearths an undiscovered, subterranean ecosystem, however, it unwittingly sets loose three never-before-seen creatures, one of whom takes refuge in the junkyard where Tripp works, sparking an adventure that hearkens back to 80s favorites like E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Gremlins.

As with those films, Monster Trucks leans heavily on the unexpected bond that develops between Tripp and the wayward creature, which he nicknames "Creech," and which he goes to great lengths to protect when Terravex CEO Reece Tenneson (Rob Lowe) dispatches corporate mercenary-type Mr. Burke (Holt McCallany) to capture and kill his newfound friend. Luckily, Tripp will also have a little help from his human friends, including fellow high-schooler Meredith (Jane Levy), junkyard owner Mr. Weathers (Danny Glover) and town sheriff Rick (Barry Pepper).

Screenwriter Derek Connolly has also been responsible for helping to bring to the screen such box office behemoths as Jurassic World and Kong: Skull Island. But with Monster Trucks, the result is somewhat less successful, partly because of the film's distinctly family-friendly aspirations, and partly because the plot feels so unremarkably derivative. Thankfully, at least the cast's on-screen chemistry and the engaging and likeable creature designs help keep the movie more or less entertaining, even though the overall effort is best described as forgettable.

Thematically, Monster Trucks may take its cue from the celluloid cult classics of decades past, but visually, the movie is modern through and through. Nowhere is this better exemplified than in the 1080p transfer present on this Blu-ray, which recreates the film for the home theater viewing experience with razor-sharp clarity and robust color saturation, whether it's the rocky terrain of dirt roads, or the rolling green hills, or the miscellaneous pieces of debris hidden among the heaps of junkyard scrap. As for the audio, the accompanying Dolby Atmos sound mix is just as much of a crowd-pleaser, especially since the film's sound design doesn't hold back when it comes to the sounds of screeching tires, monstrous growls and groans, metal-on-metal crunching and explosions.

Paramount's two-disc Blu-ray combo pack includes an iTunes/UltraViolet digital copy, a DVD and the following Blu-ray extras:

  • Who's Driving the Monster Trucks? (7:06) - The cast talk about what drew them to the movie, their roles, and working with director Chris Wedge, plus a quick look at the film's visual effects.
  • The Monster in the Truck (4:57) - A more detailed look at how the film's creature creations were brought to life through the magic of digital animation.
  • Creating the Monster Truck (6:29) - A look at the practical effects, visual effects and stunt work that went into the monster trucks themselves.
  • Gag Reel (4:35) - Goofs and flubs from the set.
  • Deleted Scenes (8:36) - Six scenes ("Detention," "Car Trouble," "Avoiding Traffic," "Apology," "Tire Change" and "Let's Go Around").
  • Production Diaries (10:13) - A series of ten brief behind-the-scenes pieces about the stunts, the visual and special effects, the cast and more ("Barrel Roll," "Avoiding Traffic [Deleted Scene]," "Green Suits & Green Screens," "Remote Control," "Hydraulics," "Rob Lowe," "Fake Truck Driving," "First Contact," "Truck Spin" and "Vintage Truck").

Monster Trucks is available from Paramount Home Entertainment as of April 11th, 2017. The Blu-ray features English Dolby Atmos, French, Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, and English Dolby Digital 5.1 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles. The total runtime is 1 Hr. 45 Mins.

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