What it's about:
Based on the series of popular video games, Ratchet and Clank tells the story of a young, restless mechanic, Ratchet, whose dreams of becoming a heroic space ranger becomes a reality when he meets a robot names Clank who alerts his to a crisis that threatens the entire galaxy.
What we thought:
Unless I'm missing something, Ratchet & Clank is very easily the best film based on a video game ever. Of course, that's not saying much – as the film's solid but modest rating should attest – as most video game movies have been ear-bleedingly terrible but credit where credit is due: it may not be on the same level as, say, Inside Out or Zootropolis but it's a really solid, highly enjoyable space romp for kids of all ages. Admittedly, it's probably more for boys of all ages than girls. I know, I know, it's probably politically incorrect to suggest such a thing but, hey, if you can't make sweeping generalisations about animated space operas, when can you?
At its heart, Ratchet & Clank plays on the very well worn trope of, what can best be described as, “the specialness of outsiders” as our unlikely heroes prove to the galaxy that you don't have to look like a hero to be one, but it draws from all sorts of familiar sources that should be familiar to anyone over the age of eight.
Star Wars, in particular, is the film's biggest touchstone by far with similar space ships, similar character arcs and even similar cut-aways between scenes – a particularly weird choice considering just how close it is being released to the home video release of the Force Awakens. It's not just Star Wars, though, as it draws heavily from superhero mythologies too and even features a villain with exactly Lex Luthor's understanding of real estate. To be fair, though, this weird alien mixture of mad scientist, businessman and politician is way closer to Lex Luthor proper than whatever the hell Jesse Eisenberg was doing in Batman V Superman.
Still, even if Ratchet & Clank is indisputably and quite astonishingly unoriginal that doesn't really take away from it being as entertaining as it is. It is, for a start, genuinely funny with some nicely modulated jokes that should work for kids and adults at the same time, while being simultaneously fast paced, action packed and colourful. The animation and character designs are nice too and even if, again, it doesn't exactly stand out from the pack, its adorably cartoonish feel is still kind of delightful in its own way.
Best of all, though, are the characters themselves – all of which are voiced wonderfully by a collection of mostly “character actors” like Paul Giamatti and Armin Shimerman and unknowns with “big personalities” like Sylverster Stallone and John Goodman thrown in for good measure. Our two central heroes are particularly terrific: not exactly three-dimensional but adorable, funny and thoroughly likeable.
The film even features a halfway decent plot that may be super familiar but the very fact that it has an actual narrative structure to it places it miles ahead of almost all video game films. It might not lead the way in terms of animated films – though it's still significantly better than some of the lesser animations out there – but it sets a new standard for video game films. Let's see if Duncan Jones can set an even higher bar with his Warcraft adaptation due later this year.
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