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Ratchet & Clank is based on the popular Playstation game series of the same name and is the first of many video adaptations to come in 2016, alongside the ranks of Warcraft, the Angry Birds movie and Assassin’s Creed.
Unfortunately, Ratchet & Clank is a lackluster space adventure that’s only mildly entertaining at best, failing to truly capture the fun of its bright, colorful video game counterpart.
A young Lombax mechanic named Ratchet (James Arnold Taylor) dreams of becoming a famous hero like the iconic protectors of the galaxy, the Galactic Rangers. When a defective warbot, whom he names Clank (David Kaye) crash lands on Ratchet’s planet, carrying a warning of an impending attack on the Rangers, Ratchet realizes his dream just might come true. He teams up with Clank and sets out to save the galaxy and fulfill his destiny.
Interestingly enough, the movie was created with the full co-operation of Insomniac Games, the company behind the original series. They helped with the production, screenplay, character development and animation. A lot of the main voice actors from the games even reprise their roles for the movie. As someone who played the latest Ratchet & Clank game (you can check out my thoughts on it here, on my personal blog or see what Entertainment Fuse’s own Jeffrey Dy had to say about in his review), This movie adaptation is very faithful to the source material in both look, tone and writing: and that’s kind of the problem, actually.
The 2016 Ratchet & Clank game is a remake of the original 2002 title and shares a plot with the movie – a plot that’s not that interesting with a cast of characters that are likable enough, but not that distinct and writing that’s occasionally slightly funny, but little more than that.
In the game, it’s easy to be more forgiving of the corny writing and lackluster story, because you only experience it via cutscenes that are a) fully skippable b) not that long to begin with and most importantly, c) they’re not the main focus.
Ratchet & Clank movie takes the least interesting part of the game, its story and cinematics (a number of scenes are even shot for shot the same in both) and stretches it to feature length, removing the interactive element that was the most enjoyable aspect of the games.
The wide range of interchangeable weapons and the variety of enemies you can use them against are not in the movie. In fact, the guns that do make in the movie are oddly disconnected from the narrative, mostly presented without context or explanation. While the game has entire levels explaining how Ratchet acquires gadgets like the jetpack or the mag boots, in the movie he just sort of has them when he needs to. The dozen or so unique planets that the player can explore? Only three make it into the movie and we do not see that much of them either.
Even without comparing it to the superior game, Ratchet & Clank is just boring on its own terms. It tries too hard to be funny and rarely pulls it off, the story is predictable and not that interesting and the characters are decent, but that’s about it.
Some celebrities, such as Paul Giammati, Sylvester Stallone, Rosario Dawson and John Goodman lend their voices to the cast, and they do a good job, but nothing too spectacular or exciting. They deliver their lines well and for the most part make an effort to distinguish the characters from their own fairly distinct voices. You can probably still recognize who they are, but you cannot say they are not putting in effort.
It’s a colorful movie, (although it pales in comparison to the game) it’s well animated and it has some decent action and a couple of good laughs. There are certainly worse things than you can take a small child to. They might be entertained. It’s hardly a glowing recommendation, but at least it’s innocuous enough to not be a terrible idea.
Ratchet & Clank has its heart in the right place, but it’s just really not all that good at most of what it does. With a release date that coincides with Captain America: Civil War in a lot of countries, it’s a movie that will probably fall off very quickly – hopefully the other upcoming major video adaptations will fare a lot better.