Monster Trucks is a Frankenstein of a film, a few good parts, a few bad ones.
The movie focuses on high school student Tripp, played by Lucas Till, who discovers a giant squid-like creature in the junkyard where he works. The monster, accidentally released from an underground lake by oil drillers, is being hunted by the villainous oil company. When it crawls inside and takes over Tripp’s truck, they’re off on a pedal-to-the-metal adventure.
Considering how little effort is often put into shooting kids’ films, the shots are clean and often go above and beyond what’s necessary. The special effects on the monster go awry once or twice, but on the whole it’s well designed and given a variety of expressions. The thrills of the movie are fun. The good cinematography lends an extra level of adrenaline to scenes where characters’ driving leaps over obstacles and down mountains.
What’s troubling about this movie, however, isn’t the surface; it’s what bubbles up from beneath. Tripp isn’t an ideal role model for kids. He complains about the shallow rich kids only to turn around and belittle a chubby less popular student.
The car chase scenes are filled with Tripp recklessly side-swiping other innocent drivers, destroying property, and presumably killing several henchmen in car wrecks. All of which is usually followed by a cheer or laugh from the main character.
The movie also seems confused on whether of not it’s environmentally friendly. Oil companies are bad and destructive, but oil and giant trucks are awesome. It’s disingenuous of the movie to tell the audience that big oil companies are the problem, while everything the audience might do, like buy a large fuel-inefficient truck is okay.
In the end, the movie probably won’t turn your child into a bully or someone inconsiderate about nature, but with all the effort being put into family films these days, you and your kids can do better.