Title: Ratchet and Clank
Release Date: April 29, 2016
Release Format: Theatrical
Ever since Super Mario Bros. hit screens in 1993, movies based on video games have had a bad reputation for being… well, bad. From “Doom” to “Resident Evil” to “Max Payne” to every video game film directed by Uwe Boll, the very genre seems to lose its credibility with each passing failure. However, a select few films based on video games have managed to turn out fine and, for the most part, they are animated. I thought “Mortal Kombat” and “Tekken” were decent live action films, despite what some might say, but the animated adaptations tend to be the ones that work best in terms of quality. I think this is mainly because you can do more with an animated film than you can do with live action. In the end, with an animated film, there’s more freedom for what you can get away with. Ones that have worked in the past, at least for me, include “Street Fighter: Alpha”, “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within” (Unfairly Underrated), “Resident Evil: Damnation” and, the focus of today’s review, “Ratchet and Clank.”
Now, to be perfectly honest with all of you, I have never played the Ratchet and Clank gaming series. I’d heard of it but was more into Crash Bandicoot and Jak. That being said, I really want to play the games after seeing this movie and for any adaptation, let alone an adaptation of a video game, I consider that quite the achievement. Ratchet (voiced by James Arnold Taylor) is a Lombax, living on the planet Veldin who, true to animated main character logic, dreams of doing bigger and better things in life. When he comes across the defective robot, Clank (voiced by David Kaye), Clank warns Ratchet that an invasion is coming and soon the duo, along with some new friends, find themselves in a race against time to save the galaxy from annihilation.
Now, I can’t say the movie is perfect. It does have many predictable plot points, the plot itself is mostly serviceable and some things that were touched upon could have been illustrated a lot better. For example, for as much as I liked both Ratchet and Clank as characters, I didn’t feel like there were enough scenes of them together in the beginning. Thus, their connection and them becoming friends feels a bit too rushed. It’s not bad by any stretch and it still works, it just could have been touched upon a bit more. But ultimately, what makes this movie good at the end of the day is that it is really funny. I was laughing constantly throughout this film, especially when it made fun of other films. They take pretty funny digs at Marvel, Various Sci-Fi Shows and even The Phantom Menace in one scene. Not to mention, it has the funniest use of the Wilhelm Scream I have ever seen in my life. I almost fell to the floor.
James Arnold Taylor delivers a fun and often humorous performance as Ratchet. This should be no surprise to fans of the game as the actor has voiced the character for years. Clank (voiced by David Kaye) is also a fun character. Strangely, this duo reminded me a great deal of James T. Kirk and Mr. Spock; one is a hotheaded type of hero looking for adventure wherever he can find it and the other speaks logically, always ready with a logical plan of attack. The two have some moments that are endearing and funny, although I have to admit that Ratchet gets far more development than Clank. Clank really has no development as a character, outside of his relationship with Ratchet. It’s a shame because the film is called Ratchet and Clank, not just Ratchet. Again, they are fun characters to have an adventure with but a little more development would have gone a long way in making them more memorable.
As for the rest of the cast, Jim Ward, Bella Thorne, and Rosario Dawson are all fine but when you get down to it, there characters really don;t have much going for them. Captain Quark (Jim Ward) is the egotistical superhero whose story-arc is beyond obvious. Cora (Bella Thorne) is pretty much just a few one liners and a sneer and while Elaris (Rosario Dawson) was potentially interesting as a character (in all fairness, there is a pretty funny running gag with her), she’s not in it enough to leave much of an impression. The same can easily be said for Grimroth (voiced by John Goodman). Grimroth is introduced as Ratchet’s mechanic mentor and even has a few touching moments. Sadly, he’s just not in the movie enough. The movie would have benefited from being at least 20 minutes longer if only to flesh out these individual characters.
But, for me, where it all evens out is with the villains. The villains in this movie were hilarious and their scenes were, hands down, the best parts of the movie. Paul Giamatti plays Drek, the leader of the invading aliens, like an eccentric businessman. It’s like Dr. Evil if he was an alien and works perfectly with the tone of the film. Sylvester Stallone was great as the robot, Victor Von Ion, Drek’s right-hand man. While his screen time in the movie is short, he steals every scene he’s in. Armin Shimerman (who you might remember as Quark from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) plays Doctor Nefarious as an evil genius who was scorned by the Galactic Rangers. I won’t spoil why because it’s really funny, but he does have some of the best scenes in the movie as a result.
The animation, while some critics have called “mediocre” at best, I found to be rather engaging. The characters all have unique and interesting designs and the action is fast-paced, matching the tone of the film perfectly. It’s not on the level of Pixar or anything but it’s still fine. There was nothing about the animation that bothered me in the least and the designs seemed to match up well with the games. Yeah, I’ve never played them, but when I was looking for stills to put in this review, I found it hard to distinguish the stills from the movie and the stills from the recent game. It’s obvious that they were trying to stay as loyal as possible to the game designs and I see nothing wrong with that.
Overall, Ratchet and Clank may not be a perfect film but It was a ton of fun. I haven’t played the games, so I’m merely judging this as a film rather than as an adaptation. As a film, it’s fun, fast-paced and often hilarious. It has some nice characters, some decent animation and a great deal of heart, in my opinion. Let me reiterate that it’s not perfect. There are some predictable plot points, some underdeveloped characters and not every joke lands for sure. However, despite those issues, I found myself having a great time with this and I would gladly see it again. I think kids will love it and if you go in with the right mindset, you’ll probably enjoy it too.
- Acting: Some fun performances with Paul Giamatti and Sylvester Stallone being highlights. Bella Thorne, Jim Ward, and Rosario Dawson do decent work but aren’t given enough to work with in order to stand out.
- Cinematography: Ratchet and Clank isn’t exactly on par with Pixar or Disney but still manages to deliver fun and fast paced animation. It’s not perfect but it works.
- Story: The story is quite weak and by the numbers for the most part but the film more than makes up for that by having a sense of humor about itself.
- Characters: Characters are a ton of fun to have an adventure with. That being said, many of them lack development and some even lack purpose.
- Great Humor
- Fun Characters
- Nice Animation
- Good Voice Work, For The Most Part
- By-The-Numbers Story
- Predictable Plotline
- Lack Of Character Development