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Friday, March 8, 2019

What Could Have Been: Monster Trucks

Children’s movies are often dark in some fashion or form. Sid’s room in Toy Story still haunts me to this day, Finding Nemo has its opening scene, and Cars 2 is grim to say the least. Then there’s Monster Trucks, which is dark for an entirely different reason. Or rather, was dark.

Monster Trucks is a simple movie: a high schooler finds a strange monster living inside of his truck. Therefore, it’s a monster truck. Haha, very clever. Anyways, it was met with so-so reviews, scoring a 32% on Rottentomatoes, but having an average rating of 4.2/10. Many agreed that it wasn’t as bad it could have been, having moments where it shined, but otherwise: it was forgettable. Audiences agreed as the film opened 7th at the box office and grossed a paltry $64.5 million against a budget of $125 million. Even before the film was released, Paramount took a $110 million write down, though it was later estimated the film could’ve cost them over $120 million. No matter which way you cut it, Monster Trucks wasn’t exactly what anyone would have hoped for when your initial announcement for the film four years before it would see release is you’re hoping to start a new animated franchise.

Indeed, this movie was announced back in 2013, but wouldn’t see release until January of 2017. Exactly why can best be described with the image below.

This is something I wish I could have seen as it sounds like the funniest thing since I saw someone try to order Chinese food on World of Warcraft. Alas, we only have this person’s word to go off of, but given that this film’s release schedule went as follows:

First release date: May 29, 2015

January 26, 2015 comes along and it’s pushed back to December 25, 2015, a date once held by Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation and also held by Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. I wonder why both films later moved.

May 5, 2015 comes along and the date is pushed to March 18, 2016. This is mere days before Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is meant to come out. I wonder why it moved. Again.

November 10, 2015 wobbles on along like a unicyclist who’s drank half a gallon of moonshine and the date is shifted to January 13, 2017, which is when it finally saw release.

Now, let’s discuss what this monster looked like. There exists concept art for an unused version of the monster. Whether or not this was the monster shown at this test screening, or if there was another version of the monster that’s never been seen outside of this test screening is unknown.

This thing looks like it belongs in one of Ridley Scott’s Alien prequels. Anyways, here’s the movie as it appears in the film.

Kinda cute if I do say so myself.

This entry is far from the most jam packed one and I understand that, but allow me to end this off on a less jokey note. When it comes to children’s films, video games, books, or whatever it is you wish to aim at them: it’s best to make it something that both kids and adults can enjoy. This is why Pixar, Disney, and Studio Ghibli films succeed in the way of both critical and financial success and why films such as The Smurfs are critical disasters. Making jokes such as “Smurfholme Syndrome”, which are jokes only adults will get since no 8 year old will have a grasp as to what Stockholm Syndrome is is a terrible way to go about making entertainment for children.

I’m an aspiring author, I hope to one day be published. These blogs are a part of that book, but I’m taking advantage of the blog format to be a bit more humorous and snarky. I’ve tried my hand at writing stories that could feasibly be seen as aimed at children. I’m no professional at it, but I like to think I can see quality entertainment for them. Generally speaking, it’s best when a parent can sit down and watch or read it with them.

Monster Trucks’ original monster design is anything but appropriate for children; it’s far too intense for them and it’s more akin to something H.P. Lovecraft would have used for an unfathomable terror from the darkest depths of the seas. If you want to use monsters in your kids story or movie, it’s best if the monster has a balance of scary and cute to it. While I haven’t seen this movie (it isn’t something I’d likely enjoy), the reimagined monster is something I’d say is really good. Though if you ask me: the pinnacle for good children’s monsters will always be Mike and Sulley from Monsters Inc.

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