“A jumbled mess of craziness clobbered together into ninety minutes of schizo madness”
My first thought when I saw a Ratchet & Clank movie was coming out was plain and simple – “do kids today know or even care about Ratchet & Clank?” Sure, DreamWorks managed to manifest and market Mr. Peabody and Sherman to today’s youth, but you’d have a hard time not managing to get kids to connect with an animated boy and his dog. I was part of the generation who grew up with the ‘Ratchet and Clank’ games on the wonderful, everlasting console that was PlayStation 2, and even though I didn’t play the game a whole lot, it connected with me in the sense of being a basic action romp. At the time, I thought it was special because, for a kids game, it didn’t need a Saturday morning cartoon show nor a film franchise to accompany it. Ratchet and Clank were tailor-made to interact with and play as rather than to passively watch and observe.
And unfortunately, that’s what the long-awaited (?) film adaptation of Ratchet & Clank does to the viewer – turns them into a passive observer of scrambled nonsense in a film that looks like the ugly side of retro animation, feels dated, and is made by the same studio that has given us enough Barbie movies to craft a cinematic universe. This is a constantly miserable, unmoving film that features a barrage of grotesque characters babbling nonsense with the accompanying noise of clanking metal and deafening ray guns clouding up the sound-track while Ratchet and Clank, in turn, feel sidelined in a movie about their own origins story.
Probably the biggest laugh in the film comes during the credit sequences that nudges at the idea of a potential sequel – one has to admire the sheer audacity and optimism of some films.
The story concerns the first initial meetup of Ratchet (voiced by James Arnold Taylor) and Clank (voiced by David Kaye). Ratchet is a humble mechanic, destined for life like his father, slumming away to make ends meet, while Clank is a robot made on accident but kept intact anyway. Together, the two misfits who feel as if they weren’t built to serve a particular purpose find their calling when it comes time to save the Solana Galaxy from Chariman Drek (Paul Giamatti), who wants to destroy the planets in order to create a planet for his particular species of creatures. Ratchet is also assisted by his bumbling mentor Grimroth Razz (John Goodman), who comes in handy with parts and additional nuggets of information, but for the most part, he exists to stumble around and complicate matters.
Anyone even vaguely familiar with the original PlayStation 2 game will immediately take note that this film is basically a rehash of the story from the game, which is already a disappointment seeing as the first time we see these characters in years is in a story we presumably already know. After years of buildup, anticipation, and being reacquainted with these characters, to watch them rehash old material is like bringing the original Three Stooges back from the dead and getting them to redo one of their beloved comedy skits before going away forever. It’s absolute nonsense.
Much as the film itself, which is such a jumbled mess of craziness clobbered together into ninety minutes of schizo madness that crushes any ounce of enjoyment one could potentially get out of it. Even if you like the characters and love the video game, your response to the film should be bent on more than simple brand/character recognition and that is about all that Ratchet & Clank has to offer. It’s one long, ninety minute reminder of these characters’ existences in the worst, most grating possible way, with the audience as the ultimate suckers, especially in a year were video game films are getting put to the test to be more integral and pivotal than they’ve ever been before.