Ratchet & Clank: movie review

ratchet pic

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Ratchet and Clank was originally released for the PS2 in 2002, with a line of sequels and spin-offs following. This year saw a PS4 reboot loosely based on the original game, and this film is largely based on the remake of the original. So, er, we’re all clear on what’s going on… right?

The Ratchet & Clank movie did get a cinema release (apparently) but it completely bombed, not even breaking even. This strongly implies that it’s absolutely flippin’ terrible and… actually, it’s not. We may not be looking at a cinematic masterpiece here, but it certainly has its moments. Even better for series fans you’ll find familiar characters, locations, weapons, and even actors here.

The setup goes like this: Chairman Drek (Paul Giamatti), with the help of his Blarg (yes, really) underlings, destroys planet Tenemule. It soon becomes apparent that he’s destroying a series of planets for some reason, so the Galactic Rangers – headed by Captain Qwark (Jim Ward) – announce that they are recruiting a new member to help deal with the threat. Of course, Ratchet (James Arnold Taylor) is determined to become this new member. Although he’s rejected, he soon meets up with defective warbot Clank (David Kaye) and you probably won’t be shocked to learn that they get involved in the whole save-the-universe thing…

As previously mentioned, and as fans will recognise above, much of the game’s voice cast are on board for the movie. Giamatti only popped in to the game series for the remake, but there is at least consistency between game and film there. Other Hollywood reinforcements have been brought in, in the beefy forms of John Goodman and Sylvester Stallone. Goodman plays the suspiciously Sulley-like figure of Grimroth Razz, Ratchet’s boss/mentor. Stallone meanwhile has a minor part as one of the bad guys, namely the warbot general figure Victor Von Ion. Unsurprisingly, neither Goodman nor Stallone play those parts in the game.

Regardless of how well known (or otherwise) the actors are, everybody involved does a great job. The CG, while not Pixar-outstanding, looks very good indeed. Basically it’s a professional and polished production, not the bargain-basement webisode project you may have been fearing. So it looks good, and sounds good. Both the highs and the lows of the experience, however, can be firmly attributed to the writing.

The script is frustratingly inconsistent. At times it displays razor-sharp wit and, at its best moments, is a perfect harmony of writing, performance, and direction. Other times… a lot of other times… there are simply painfully unfunny jokes. Pretty much everything that comes out of Drek’s mouth, for example, is an embarrassingly lame one-liner that you can’t imagine any reasonable human being laughing at,

Who’s the movie for? Anyone, really. It’s an entirely self-contained story, and the pacing is excellent, meaning it can be understood and enjoyed by anyone. Existing Ratchet & Clank fans will definitely get the most out of it though and, although this film is 100% kid friendly, you don’t need to be of schoolgoing age to appreciate the (good) jokes. It’s sad that it swings from laugh-out-loud funny to utterly unfunny and back again, but ultimately it holds together well.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

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Written by Luke K

Luke plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. Chances are, if you pick up a copy of the latest Official PlayStation Magazine or GamesMaster, you'll find something he's written in there. Luke doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

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