Like a bunch of cut scenes without any of that fun video game stuff
The Ratchet and Clank series of video games have long contained the best cut scenes and voice acting of any games of their type. From the very first game on the PS2, the strong characterizations and fun action have made for consistently entertaining games with real character arcs for both our main characters and some of the side characters as well. So how do you condense hundreds of hours of story into a 90-minute animated film?
It turns out that you compress the story down so far, you hardly make a movie at all. We go straight from character introduction to emotional payoff, without seeing our heroes spend time going from planet to planet on crazy adventures to build up the friendship we’re supposed to believe they have. Who’s the audience for this movie? If it’s people who have played the games, it’ll be fun to see everyone on screen (although if they’ve played the PS4 game based on the movie that’s based on the game, they’ll have seen about half of the movie already). If people who haven’t played the games see the movie, they’ll laugh from time to time, but probably feel like a lot is missing as we zoom straight from setup to conclusion too quickly for it all to matter that much.
The basic story in the movie is that Ratchet, a Lombax, dreams of being a powerful Galactic Ranger, fighting for justice as a true hero but is rejected as too small and scrawny. Clank is a rejected Warbot, born from a malfunction in the production line. Set for destruction, he instead escapes and crash lands on Ratchet’s home planet. They meet up, and Clank enlists Ratchet to fight the evil plans of Drek, the leader of the Blarg, who has a dastardly plan. Can they stop the plan and save the galaxy?
The voice acting is, again, top notch. The key players from the video games reprise their roles here, with veteran voice actors James Arnold Taylor as Ratchet, David Kaye as Clank, and Jim Ward as celebrity Galactic Ranger Captain Qwark. Joining them are Paul Giamatti, Sylvester Stallone, Rosario Dawson and John Goodman, among others. The animation is well directed, looking crisp and bright with excellent timing for the multitude of jokes found throughout the movie. These range from the appropriate-for-all jokes about too much texting to the movie-nerds-only, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Wilhelm Scream reference.
As a long time fan of the games — I’ve played every title in the series to completion — I really wished the scenes ended with an opportunity to jump around and shoot some stuff for a while, but instead it just jumped right to the next cut scene as movies tend to do. On a scene-by-scene basis, the Ratchet and Clank movie succeeds as an entertaining and often funny entertainment product, but as a traditional movie, it’s less successful. You might like it, but I recommend the game instead. It costs 4 times as much, but is 40 times more fun.
Ratchet and Clank opens today, nationwide.