Review: ‘Monster Trucks’

Director Chris Wedge (Epic) makes the jump from animation to live action with Monster Trucks, a film looking to resurrect the 1980s family creature features for a new generation of movie goers. The story, conceived by former Paramount Pictures president Adam Goodman, with the help of his four year old son, is ludicrous to say the least, but just entertaining enough to hold the attention of younger audiences.

This is Tripp (Lucas Till), a high school kid looking to get out of his small town and find his place in this big world. Tripp works at a junk yard and likes to tinker around with cars, especially working on his custom monster truck. After an accident at a nearby oil-drilling site, a peculiar creatures finds its way into the junk yard and into Tripp’s life. This squid-like creature seems harmless enough and really loves the taste of oil, so Tripp decides to hide him from an oil company hit squad looking to take the creature back to their lab. Seeing as Creech (that’s what we’re calling the thing) likes his truck, Tripp decides to make the truck into a true “Monster” truck fully powered by Creech. With the help of book nerd and love interest Meredith(Jane Levy) and a scientist Dr Bill Dowd (Thomas Lennon), Tripp must help Creech rescue his parents from Reece Tenneson (Rob Lowe) and return them back to their home beneath the ground.

Monster Trucks isn’t a bad film by any stretch, but nor is it a good film. The premise may sound ridiculous, and it is, but the cast is likeable enough and the overall story of humans destroying the planet for oil and profit regardless of what they disturb in the process is a topic that provides a real world learning experience for audiences. The major fault of the film is it lacks the human element of emotional connection and opts for a more action-centric approach. There’s a lot to be desired about Creech and his love for oil and speed, but there was a real “E.T.” opportunity between Tripp and Creech that was overlooked.

Overall, Monster Trucks isn’t going to win any awards, but it might entertain your children and that’s really all that matters with these films.

Stars:

2 out of 5

Trailer:

Girls on Film Podcast: Interview with ‘Diablo’ writer/director Lawrence Roeck – “Build a good team around you”

Diablo poster

Yes, before you ask, that is Clint Eastwood‘s son, Scott. He’s pretty unmistakeable. He stars in Diablo playing a civil war veteran who begins a journey to rescue his kidnapped wife. While this may seem to be a very straightforward story, there are many twists and turns that make this western a very modern psychological thriller.

Diablo is in select theaters now as well as available on demand

I recently spoke with writer and director Lawrence Roeck about his film and got a glimpse into his filmmaking world. Listen to the entire interview here:

Roeck works with his creative partner, Carlos De Los Rios, and surrounds himself with very talented people. He had a basic concept for the story and brought it to De Los Rios and Eastwood, then flushed out the screenplay. Presto. 

Roeck seems to have found the magic formula with a great production team, that he couldn’t say enough nice things about. So who are the biggest players behind the scenes? Let’s break it down.

Director of Photography – Dean Cundey

Winner of several cinematography awards, Cundey is known for movies such as Back to the Future, Jurassic Park and Apollo 13. He knows his way around a set and when you watch the film, you’ll need to see it on a big screen to fully appreciate the beauty.

For this film, Cundey used a camera he helped develop, the ARRI Alexa digital cinema camera. This is not like using the camera on your phone.


Horse Wrangler – John Scott

This guy knows horses. Having recently also completed work on The Revenant, Roeck just let Scott do what he does best. “The horses like being part of a process and being around people,” says Roeck.

 


 

 

Casting Director – Roger Mussenden

Known for casting the X-Men franchise, Mussenden pulled together the supporting talent that elevated the already intriguing script. Walton Goggins is a particular standout with his character having an menacing swagger that no one else could pull off.


 

Composer – Timothy Williams

Williams is known most recently for his work on Guardians of the Galaxy. Roeck and Williams sat together for four months to create the score for this film. “Timothy uses a lot of natural sounds” using the “drumming of the stock of the shotgun” as the specific sound with Walton Goggins character. The music was recorded with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra.


 

Amazing films are out there. You just have to take a chance. Check out Diablo and you won’t be disappointed!

The Cast:

Scott Eastwood

Diablo_Still5 Courtesy Momentum Pictures © 2015

Walton Goggins

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Adam Beach

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Danny Glover

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