Blu-ray Review: Ratchet & Clank
Rangers have a loose harassment policy.
After more than a decade gracing Sony’s various gaming platforms, Insomniac Games’ Ratchet & Clank made the jump to the big screen with a theatrical release of the same name. We all know the long, sad history of game crossovers, but those typically involve taking a digital property and reimagining it in the real world. Ratchet & Clank, however, remains computer generated. Does that mean it’ll fare better than its live-action counterparts? Let’s see.
Chairman Drek (Paul Giamatti), leader of the Blarg, has constructed a “Deplanetizer” with the assistance of the evil Dr. Nefarious. The weapon has the power to destroy entire planets, which Drek then takes pieces of to reassemble into a perfect world. It’s a dire threat, and the galaxy’s peacekeeping Rangers feel the need to add another member to help combat it.
To accomplish this, the Rangers hold open tryouts on various planets, one of which draws the attention of Ratchet (James Arnold Taylor). Despite being initially turned down, Ratchet soon finds himself in the thick of things after encountering a damaged droid at a crash site. The droid, which he calls Clank, was a defective unit in a robotic force designed to destroy the Rangers.
With key information, the pair head to Ranger HQ to warn them, but they arrive too late and instead end up playing a critical role in thwarting the strike. Those heroics earn them spots in the Rangers, and it’s now up to all of them to stop Drek before he destroys another world.
Although the story is highly derivative — a giant space weapon with the power to destroy planets… now where have we heard that before? — it’s easy to follow for the target age group. For better or worse, this eschews the modern trend of kids’ movies with nods to adults and aims pretty much everything at the target demographic (we’re guessing ages 6-to-12).
There’s a lot of action mixed with humour to keep things moving at a healthy clip. Heavy gun usage might seem to run counter to the young audience, but many of them do ridiculous things (i.e., turn people into sheep, summon tornadoes, etc.) and no one really gets shot. Again, the humour is sophomoric and done with caffeine-addled kids in mind, but adults should find some chuckles along the way.
Most contemporary animated films feature tons of recognizable actors, and it feels like the director tried to incorporate some name value in Ratchet & Clank. Beyond the aforementioned Giamatti, you’ll also hear from John Goodman, Rosario Dawson and Sylvester Stallone. They’re all in background roles, however, with holdovers from the video game series taking the top spots.
Animation isn’t bad, but there’s a lack of detail. Even as the movie spans across multiple planets, it still somehow feels very limited in scope — like a film created entirely on Hollywood sets, which is weird since it’s entirely computer generated.
THE BONUS FEATURES
There is a pair of short extras: one about making the movie and one about the series’ origins as a video game. Between them they cover less than 15 minutes and don’t offer much. In fact, the biggest insight you’ll likely get from watching them is that no one with any star power could be bothered to participate as Giamatti, Goodman, Dawson and Stallone are all completely absent.
When set against recent animated efforts like Zootopia or Inside Out, which were able to tell stories that appeal to all ages, Ratchet & Clank comes up lacking. If you have kids that like the characters or are in that elementary school age range, by all means pick it up. Otherwise, just play the games.