I think Nickelodeon has things bassackwards when it comes to “Monster Trucks.” In the nineties and perhaps even eighties, a normal company would have released a “Monster Trucks” toy line followed by its very own movie. Instead we have a long gestating kids movie about glowing monsters that hide in trucks that transform in to… monster trucks—or something. And there’s not a toy line to be had. I say that because “Monster Trucks” watches more like a pitch movie for a franchise than it does an actual movie. “Monster Trucks” was created by a four year old (no seriously, look it up), and intended to be aimed at younger kids (Honest) as a sort of pseudo-Transformers. Which in and of itself is pointless when young kids are still very much all about Transformers.
Near as I can figure, “The Boss Baby” is about a young boy with a wild imagination who uses his daydreams and fantasies to exaggerate life. When he learns of a new baby entering his household and ruining his rituals, he basically has a psychotic break. He imagines a humongous scenario where nothing makes sense, nothing is funny, and the baby about to enter his house is a part of a bigger purpose. It’s not just replacing him, but is a businessman on a mission who has more intellect than he can ever hope to have. “The Boss Baby” wouldn’t be so bad if it were just a derivative take on “Look Who’s Talking Too” or “The Rugrats Movie.” It just gets bogged down in to so much stale comedy and convoluted storytelling it becomes white noise.
In the nineties, Hercules and Xena garnered humongous fan bases that were vocal and loud. And this was long before the internet became a common facet in every home in the world. Hercules begat Xena and Xena became the more popular of the pairing, with Hercules still showing up every so often to remind us that, yes, Kevin Sorbo was still on his journeys as the half god. Both series were so big they even prompted a ton of merchandise, including a prequel TV series aimed at kids starring a very young Ryan Gosling, and this animated action movie, which barely clocks in at eighty minutes. I’m not sure if this movie is even considered canon, but it is Hercules and Xena together again, fighting evil Titans and trying to stop the evil Goddess Hera.
I’m not going to argue that “Power Rangers” isn’t a movie made by a committee. The action loving, kid in me, however, really enjoyed what “Power Rangers” had to offer. It really is a re-imagining of the “Mighty Morphin” era of “Power Rangers” but tackles every plot element and universe building idea with so much more finesse and logic. The reason why these Rangers control robotic dinosaurs makes sense. The reason why Alpha Five is so important makes sense. Zordon being so crucial to helping the Rangers makes so much sense. The diversity is so much more natural and fluid than the original TV series, where everything just felt tacked on for broader appeal. Best of all, the blue ranger finally gets his due in a movie where he is the heart and soul of the entire group.
“Home Alone” begat “3 Ninjas,” which begat cheap, kiddie, straight to video, action fare like “Double Blast.” Mixing the appeal of the adventure movie with kids fighting crime, both of which were oddly prevalent in the decade, “Double Blast” is the epitome of the poorly constructed cash ins that littered video stores. The movie is so bad that often times you can see the pair of heroes burst in to laughter as they engage in martial arts with the film’s comedic henchmen. Jimmy and Lisa are an adventurous brother and sister who love to get in to adventures involving ninjas and martial arts. When their dad, a professional kick boxer and widower named Greg goes out for the day to compete in a tournament, rather than take them along, the pair of kids ultimately gets in to big trouble back in town.
I loved “Ben 10” when it premiered back in the early aughts. I watched it for a long time, and even followed a few of the unnecessary reboots. While the more modern iterations have stunk, I still love the mythos, and how the producers took a failed attempt at “Dial H for Hero” and transformed it in to a unique science fiction series. Cartoon Network and Alex Winter go to great pains to keep this an accurate film for the audience. Ben looks just like Ben, Gwen looks as if she lifted off the one dimensional series, and Max is pretty close. Not quite, but I accepted Lee Majors in the role, since his gravitas compensates for the inherent lack of faithfulness to the character mold.
If you were like me in 1992, a nine year old with a love for ninjas, then “3 Ninjas” was one of the most kick ass movies of the decade. I worshiped Bruce Lee, and watched “American Ninja” constantly, so John Turtletaub’s film hit all the right notes with a young lad such as myself. “3 Ninjas” is the product of a time where every single studio sought to cash in on the success of “Home Alone” by offering their own unique twists on the genre. This time rather than Kevin McAllister being a devious little boy with Jigsaw-like talents for making traps, the studio provides us with tween protagonists of varying ages that are also practicing ninjas. As a whole “3 Ninjas” isn’t a lot like “Home Alone,” save for mid-way when the movie’s narrative literally halts to present us with its own truncated version of “Home Alone.”
It’s such a shame we never got to see more of “Star Kid” down the road, as it had potential to break out in to its own kids franchise. Sure concepts like these are a dime a dozen these days, but “Star Kid” had a lot of interesting ideas behind it. It’s “The Guyver” meets “ET” with a hint of “Green Lantern” and I wouldn’t have minded seeing this idea explored with other alien species attempting to invade Earth, all the while exploring the larger abilities of this suit. “Star Kid” is one of those science fiction action films that came and went with barely a notice in 1997. I think it deserves a lot more credit for its ideas and great monsters.