Review: Ratchet & Clank (Movie)

ratchet-and-clank-movie-review-banner-yr10

Title: Ratchet & Clank
Release Date: April 29, 2016
Studio: Gramercy Pictures
Director: Kevin Munroe, Jericca Cleland
Main Cast: James Arnold Taylor, David Kaye, Jim Ward, Rosario Dawson, Paul Giamatti, John Goodman, Armin Shimerman
Genre: Animation/Kids & Family
MPAA Rating: PG
Runtime: 94 Mins.
Country: USA
Language: English
The reviewer purchased a ticket for this movie during a regular screening.
PS Nation Review Policy.

As I settled into my seat to watch Ratchet & Clank, a mostly familiar logo was one of many to flash across the theater screen. “PlayStation Originals” it said, seemingly indicating Sony’s plans to continue with a line of movies and, as our writer Michael jokingly called it, a PlayStation Cinematic Universe. Is Ratchet & Clank even good on its own, let alone good enough to start a new line of movies?

The movie tells the origin story of the titular heroes, Ratchet and Clank. Ratchet is a lonely mechanic living on a backwater planet, who dreams of joining the Galactic Rangers and seeking adventure. When Clank, a defect of Chairman Drek’s warbot creation plant, crash lands on Ratchet’s planet it gives him the perfect opportunity to follow those dreams.

This is because Clank has information that Drek is destroying planets across the Solaris Galaxy. Expecting resistance, Drek also intends to attack the Galactic Rangers. Thus the duo set off to find the Galactic Rangers and warn them of Drek’s plans.

rc-movie-1

The first thing to get out of the way, yes this movie has the exact same plot as the recent reboot PS4 game. Since the game uses some footage from the movie as cutscenes, I figured this would be pretty apparent but apparently this wasn’t clear to many people. Both the movie and the new game are loosely based on the original PS2 game, but they have some new characters and a slightly different plot.

For the most part, the plot succeeds. As the movie is aimed, at least in part, at the younger audience, it has a pretty simple plot. And even without my foreknowledge from the games, it’s pretty obvious where it is going most of the time.

This makes it best suited for the young, or the young-at-heart fans of the series and I can see where those not in it for the nostalgia might not be on board. But at a base level, the story is well told, easy to follow, and entertaining to watch play out.

… it does falter here …
The Ratchet & Clank series has a bright and colorful universe, which helps cement the notion that the movie is aimed at a younger audience. At face value it’s well animated, both smooth and pleasing to see in motion.

However, I don’t think the movie would compare too favorably to a film from the likes of Disney or Pixar as it probably didn’t have quite the budget those studios are afforded.

Fans know humor is large aspect of the Ratchet & Clank games, so naturally the movie should have it as well. Unfortunately it does falter here.

rc-movie-4

Some of the joke attempts fail to get to the level the writers seem to have intended as there are a lot that fall flat. Not that they all do. A riff on the old villain’s maniacal laughter shtick got me pretty good and there are a couple of decent recurring gags.

As someone who had already played the new game, I was curious just how well it would adapt into a movie. Sure the plot is fine but there are plenty of things that work well as gameplay filler but wouldn’t necessarily translate to the big screen.

For example searching for gadgets to open new areas or taking part in hoverboard races are nice busy work, but not great for pacing in a film. Clearly some of these things would be cut to turn a ten hour game into a ninety minute movie, but what would replace them?

… bringing some depth to the members of the Galactic Rangers …
Of course a lot of that stuff does get cut, but fortunately it also expands on the plot of the game in a few ways. The game explains Drek’s motives, for example, but there’s a second villain who gets mostly sidelined.

However, in the movie this villain, who fans of the original series will recognize, actually gets a little more backstory that helps explain what his motives are.

In addition, the movie does a much better job of bringing some depth to the members of the Galactic Rangers. The fact that none of these characters, outside of Captain Qwark, got much of an introduction in the game was a minor complaint and the movie helps alleviate that. Even Qwark gets some more personality and the movie does a better job of showing his motivation as well.

rc-movie-3

As a fan, the movie felt visually congruent with the universe shown in the multiple games. Even small things, like backgrounds or props, were all either directly taken from the games or looked as though they could be.

This is especially true in an otherwise just okay action scene near the climax of the film. All of the weapons being used were weapons from the game series which got me more pumped than I feel I otherwise might have been.

… some extra context and backstory …
Like the visuals, the movie sounds the part of a Ratchet game which is good. Ratchet, Clank, and Qwark are all voiced by the same actors those characters have had since the series’ inception and all of the newer voices are shared with the recent reboot. As compared to the older games, the movie and remake manage to pull in some more recognizable talent for some of the new voices.

Voice work overall is solid but not stellar. The cast does their best with the jokes that don’t hit but there’s only so much they can do to save some of the crummier ones.

I felt like the carryovers from the older games were the most comfortable and interesting in their roles but that may just be bias from having heard them in these roles for so long.

rc-movie-2

Conclusion
In the end, I don’t regret the ninety minutes watching Ratchet & Clank or the ticket price so the movie at least succeeds in that sense. At a base level I was entertained, but I can’t help but feel that was mostly because I am a fan of the game series and even then the movie wasn’t amazing, just good enough.

For those going in without knowledge of the games, I have a feeling the movie will be a little less enjoyable as the sense of nostalgia and familiarity I felt won’t help carry the film.

So, in a way, I’d mostly recommend this movie as a supplement to the PlayStation 4 remake. The added scenes help give some extra context and backstory and it’s almost a shame that Insomniac wasn’t able to use more of the movie in support of the game.

One thing to note is that I also saw the movie in a 3D showing and came out a little less impressed by the 3D effects. There are a few chase sequences that employ the usual tricks to try to wow but outside of that I barely noticed the 3D. I suppose that’s better than having actively bad 3D effects but it also hardly sells the price difference between 3D and not.

Score
6.5

* All screenshots used in this review were provided by the studio.

Written by Andy Richardson

Andy Richardson

A longtime PlayStation fan who enjoys JRPGs and rhythm games when he’s not tweeting about his parrot.

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook