Ratchet And Clank Review

FOR LOVE OF THE GAME


 

Back in 2002, video game developing company Insomniac Games released a sci-fi action platformer game for the Playstation 2 console called Ratchet and Clank. The game followed Ratchet (a feline-looking character known as a Lombax, who is a mechanic) and Clank (a small sentient Zoni robot) as they journey across the universe and save it from the threats of evil. The game has a cartoon-ish visual appeal to it, similar to a Pixar movie, with plenty of humor and platforming action. Ratchet and Clank was a success as Insomniac Games continued the franchise further in multiple sequel games on the Playstation consoles, including three more games on the Playstation 2, two games on the PSP, seven games on the Playstation 3 (eight if you include the Ratchet and Clank Collection). Now, in the year 2016, Sony Computer Entertainment has released a reimagining of the original game with Ratchet and Clank for the Playstation 4, but (which this blog post is about) is fully animated feature film titled Ratchet and Clank. Does this video game film adaptation share the same entertainment value as its source material or is it a failed pixelated animated movie?

 THE STORY


In an effort to create a new home world for the Blarg, the villainous Chairman Drek (Paul Giamatti) devises a plan with scientist Dr. Nefarious (Armin Shmmerman) that involves blowing up multiple planets with their devastating weapon the “Deplanetizer” in order to build a new planet. With the Solana Galaxy threatened, the Galactic Rangers are calling upon to increase they ranks in order to handle this looming situation. Seeing as a change to live his dream, Ratchet (James Arnold Taylor), a lowly Lombax mechanic goes to try out for the Rangers, only to be turned down and deemed “unfit” to serve. With his dreams dashed and facing an unimpressive life as a garage mechanic, Ratchet’s luck changes when he encounters Clank (David Kaye), a defected robot escapee from Drek’s factory, who bears a message on warn of an impending attack on the Rangers. Ratchet seizes this opportunity to his prove his worth to the Rangers as he and Clank journey forth, joining up with Captain Qwark (Jim) Ward), Brax (Vincent Tong), Cora (Bella Thorne), and Elaris (Rosario Dawson) as they fight to defeat the Blarg and save the Solana Galaxy from annihilation.

THE GOOD / THE BAD


Like I said previously (I think I said it for my review of Hardcore Henry), I do play video games, but more on a casual level (I’m not a hardcore gamer). That being said, I (unfortunately) haven’t played any of the Ratchet and Clank games. I’ve heard about them, but never decided to purchase or even play the games. I remember seeing the trailer for the new movie Ratchet and Clank and found it to be interesting, with plenty of colorful animation and cool-looking sci-fi action fun (for a kid’s movie). In truth, after seeing the movie, I went online and purchased Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction (the first game for the Playstation 3) as I’m now a little “hooked” on the video game franchise. As for the movie, however, I felt that Ratchet and Clank, while getting me started on the video games series, feels like a generic animated tale that doesn’t rise to the occasion, feeling like paint-by-numbers cartoon movie. It has some perks, but feels like a cinematic advisement for the new Playstation 4 game.

Ratchet and Clank is directed by Jericca Cleland and Kevin Munroe, with an original story concept by Munroe and T.J. Fixman, a former senior writer of Insomniac Games. Cleland and Munroe seem to understand the appeal of the games as Ratchet and Clank is the most successful when trying to capture the essence of the games. Again, I don’t have an expansive knowledge of the games (since I never have played them), but the film carries the bravado of the games. It’s oddball humor is definitely felt in the movie and probably one of the great things from it (whether physical or verbal comedy) and is more towards younger kids (or if you a whimsical adult humor). Coinciding with that, the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously and moves at a fast pace as it follows its heroes throughout the galaxy with plenty of laughable moments and sci-fi action frivolities. The movie’s animation is also quite unique and stylish. It’s not the super hyper-real look like Frozen or the heavily detailed of Zootopia, but it’s definitely vibrant with colors and plenty of space adventures inspiration aesthetics (especially those from the video games).

The problem with Ratchet and Clank is that it being released as a counterpoint to the recent Playstation 4 game (also titled Ratchet and Clank). The two are almost identical, sharing almost the same story (an origin story for our two heroes) with some variations between the two (as if playing both will give you the full scope of the story). However, if you don’t have a Playstation 4, the story is pretty straightforward to follow. That being said, the story found in the movie is the classic heroes journey, which is not bad, but it’s a flat story, lacking depth to its narrative and to its colorful characters. This result in a movie that doesn’t feel as strong as it could be or even an emotional payoff in the end. There’s no heavily messaged themes, but its overly-simplistic that it becomes a little bothersome and mundane. What could’ve been a stellar achievement for bring Ratchet and Clank to the big screen is muddled by a shallow story that lacks characterization and excitement.

While the film’s narrative lacks depth, the cast in Ratchet and Clank does some solid voice-acting work, despite being mostly underserved throughout. James Arnold Taylor, who’s done a TON of voice work over the years (including the Ratchet and Clank games) voices Ratchet in the movie. He’s feels comfortably in the role and it shows through his vocal performance of the plucky Lombax hero, who’s is presented as the eager and well-meaning protagonist. Similarly, Ratchet and Clank veteran Jim Ward returns to his post as the incorrigible Quark, the macho and egotistical leader of the Galactic Rangers, who, like James Arnold Taylor, easily slides back into the character with great ease. Unfortunately, the rest of the Galactic Rangers, including Bella Thorne as the tough-as-nails Cora, Rosario Dawson as the intelligent tech savvy Elaris, and Dean Redman (or is it Vincent Tong? I can’t remember) as the brutish guns blazing Brax, are mostly thinly-sketched caricatures and are mostly there for the stereotypical team member roles (i.e. the warrior, the intelligence officer, the tactician, etc.). Even the little robot Clank, voiced by Ratchet and Clank veteran David Kaye, whose name is in the title of the movie, feels more delegated to the being in the background and (like the other Galactic Rangers) has a moment in the spotlight, but doesn’t leave a lasting impression. As a side note, actor John Goodman has a small supporting role as Grimroth, Ratchet’s mechanic mentor.

More interestingly, the “good guys” in Ratchet and Clank are somewhat upstaged as the villains in the movie are far more memorable. Actor Paul Giamatti voices Drek, the leader of the Blarg and Armin Shimerman voices Dr. Nefarious, Drek’s chief scientist and former Galactic Ranger (another veteran of the Ratchet and Clank games) do excellent work as the film’s two main antagonist. While their evildoing plans are stereotypical / cliché (again no much backstory on “why?”), but their humorous characters provide the best parts of the movie. Additionally, Sylvester Stallone voices Victor Von Ion, Drek’s robotic henchmen, who, like Drek and Nefarious, provides some great humorous bits when on-screen.

Lastly, I did see Ratchet and Clank in 3D and, while there was a couple of moments that effects worked, it’s pretty much a movie that didn’t needed to be rendered in 3D. If you do play on seeing this movie in theaters, its best just to see it in 2D.

FINAL THOUGHTS


Video game characters Ratchet and Clank hit the big screen in their animated self-titled movie Ratchet and Clank. Directors Cleland and Munroe animated spin on the beloved Playstation characters has some great flair with some cheeky humor, nifty sci-fi space premise and visual locales to its solid voice work. Unfortunately, the movie lacks depth in its characterization and in its storytelling, feeling like a generic run-of-the-mill animated feature that fails to capture the true excitement of its source material. To me, I’m split on this movie as I liked it, but it kind of felt underwhelming (especially given what I saw from the recent 2016 PS4 game). It’s not the worst video game film adaptation (as some are calling it), but it’s definitely not the best. Naturally, sci-fi seeking ten year olds and die-hard fans of the video game franchise will shell out the cash to see the movie, but there’s isn’t much appeal for newcomers (average moviegoers) to sit through a 94-minute movie. In truth, if you have a PS4, buy the video game Ratchet and Clank, you’ll get more mileage of it than Ratchet and Clank the movie.

3.3 Out of 5 (Rent It)

 

Released On: April 29th, 2016
Reviewed On: May 2nd, 2016

Ratchet and Clank  is rated PG for action and some rude humor

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