As many of you know, I’m something of a casual gamer. I was very familiar with the RATCHET & CLANK video games, even though I’ve only played the Playstation 2 original way back in 2002, but never any of the sequels. When the teaser for the movie adaptation was released last year, I got pretty damn excited for it. It looked like it would have the same spirit of the game, even brought back the important original voice actors. Now that the trailer is out, yeah, it still looks like it could be a pretty fun flick. It certainly was taking a few liberties with its own license, but I was still open to it being good. I still don’t know if the movie will be financially successful, as I still don’t see much in the way of TV spots or a single trailer at the movies, but I guess it’s too soon to tell. It’s a safe assumption that I had high hopes for this movie. So without further adieu, this is my honest opinion of RATCHET & CLANK.
In a distant part of the galaxy, the evil Chairman Drek (voiced by Paul Giamatti) is destroying planets for unknown reasons, alongside the equally evil Doctor Nefarious (voiced by Armin Shimerman). Supposedly, the only force in the galaxy that can stop Drek is the famous and popular Galactic Rangers, led by the rugged, yet self-absorbed Captain Qwark (voiced by Jim Ward). But in order to combat Drek and his forces, they need a new recruit. That hopeful is the form of the young Lombax mechanic Ratchet (voiced by James Arnold Taylor). With the assistance of a defected robot made by Drek’s machines, that Ratchet names Clank (voiced by David Kaye), they eventually join the Rangers to help defend the galaxy.
Oh boy… so let me just start off by saying this movie is by no means “bad.” In fact, it just might be the best movie adapted video game. Unfortunately, that’s not saying too much for what this movie did. This video game franchise is known for being witty, creative, and fun, while this movie is only “fun,” and caters to a younger audience when the video games hit a much wider demographic.
I really hate to make comparrisons to the video game, but I feel like I’ll be doing that quite a bit in this review, so bare with me. Keep in mind that I am a casual gamer myself and I really want film adaptations of video games to be good.
Let’s start with the title itself, “Ratchet and Clank.” Casual movie-goers may not know this, but Ratchet and Clank from the games are inseperable, with the exception of a few spin-off titles. In the game, Ratchet sure has his own gadgets to make him useful and independant, but with Clank, he is given a wider variety of gadets, like a jetpack that allows him to traverse a level easier, get to places that the player wouldn’t be able to conventionally get to, that sort of thing. They worked together and complemented each other. They may not have always agreed, but they were friends and their friendship was explored over the course of the game. In this movie, you don’t really get a sense of their relationship other than “the title says we have to have these characters, so lets give them screen time.” Ratchet and Clank seldom speak to each other in any meaningful way. Also with the exception of one or two scenes, they don’t even really work together. Ratchet is given this special helmet that allows him to teleport weaponry into his hand and a jetpack that allows complete flight control. So… what’s the point in Clank if all he’s relegated to is the team’s plan-maker? Especially considering the team already has a plan-maker that’s ignored. Clank barely contributes to the function the movie gives him. Having only played the first game, I know the heart of the story is the friendship between these two lead characters. Without it, it’s just a standard kids sci-fi movie and that’s not the kind of movie you want to make. Without that heart, the movie risks becoming forgettable.
The movie also utilizes unforgivable cliches. The story of a wide-eyed dreamer who wants more out of his life. He has dreams of being a hero, gets his opportunity, messes it up, gets another unorthodox shot at being a hero, becomes a hero, something bad happens, he stops being a hero, until the third act when he comes back as a hero. He loves being a hero so much that he doesn’t listen to anyone who might have a good idea for handling the situation. It’s a series of movie tropes we’ve seen a thousand times before. I suppose to credit of the writers, Ratchet isn’t unlikable or too annoying, but because his personality isn’t original, he’s still dull.
I must sound like I hate this movie. I don’t.
If you’re a fan of the franchise and want to see Ratchet and Clank be Ratchet and Clank, you’ll get it, you’ll just get it in a story that you’ve seen before. The side characters are about as colorful as they are in the games, thankfully.
It’s really cool to see many of the original voice actors, for one. Yeah, Taylor has been voicing Ratchet since the franchise’s second installment, RATCHET & CLANK: GOING COMMANDO way back in 2003. And Shimerman reprising his long time role of Dr. Nefarious. I do have to wonder why Kevin Michael Richardson was “quietly” replaced by Giamatti as Drek. I mean, sure, Giamatti is a great actor and would get more people to see this movie due to the name itself, but… a lot of good it’ll do since this movie barely has any publicity. While I do weep for the voice actor’s proverbial slap in the face, it’s hard not to enjoy Giamatti.
And speaking of Giamatti, he is an absolute joy in this movie as the dastardly Drek. He’s actually really fun to listen to, his comedic timing is great, it’s a good performance. The same goes especially for Ward as Captain Qwark, who is an absolute scene-stealer. Qwark is hilarious as the movie’s personal Tony Stark; in love with his own fame and reputation, yet is still a butt-kicker in his own right. All he cares about is doing the action hero thing, kicking down doors, shooting things with his guns, he’s definitely a lot of fun.
In the moment when I was watching the movie, I was never bored. The humor is pretty solid and did occasionally get a chuckle out of me. Even when it wasn’t making me laugh, it was still enjoyable. It has some great, fast-paced animation, and the actions pretty solid. There is joy to be found in this one and I think it’s hard to completely dislike it. The creativity is there, it’s just not consistently there. I can see die hard fans being disappointed, hell, I’m not really a fan and I was disappointed in some areas, but it’s no where near a bad movie. It’s just nothing new. I think any kid will enjoy it as well as the parents taking them, so it’s worth the two hours of entertainment, but fans of the franchise beware. It’s been pretty split on whether or not it’s been enjoyed by that section of movie-goers. Personally, I’ve only seen it once and I might be open to seeing it again, but it’ll be a mood thing.
My honest rating: a strong 3/5
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