Ratchet & Clank (film review from Frank Ochieng).

May 2, 2016 | By | Reply More

A popular PlayStation-era game is the frivolous foundation for the kiddie sci-fi action-oriented animation adventure ‘Ratchet & Clank’ that makes it a playful stamp on the big screen. This kid-friendly space saga, armed with its beloved reputation in the world of gamer groupies, could be deemed as the junior-sized ‘Star Wars’ for the minor sect. Why would the mini movie-goers not find this big screen adaptation an appealing space-aged actioner worth its weight in innocuous, escapist gold? After all, what is not to like about the roguish and heroic feline-looking creature Ratchet (otherwise known as a ‘lombax’) with the Buck Rogers attire as well as the cute clanking companion in the green-eyed, robotic Clank (channeling the impish and lovable R2D2 from that certain George Lucas-directed worldwide cinematic sensation from yesteryear?).

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Our galactic good guys look to save the universe and the avid youngish video game fanatics will eat this fun-loving fantasy up with moon dust soup. Unfortunately, ‘Ratchet & Clank’ musters up a tepid by-the-numbers frenzy that will predictably hold the munchkins’ imaginative attention. As for others, the hyper hairball and his trusty tin can tag-along get lost in the shuffle of this somewhat serviceable but sluggish cartoon pie-in-the-sky popcorn pleaser for the little ones at large.

Directors Kevin Monroe’s and Jerrica Cleland’s spotty spunk captures the loose lunacy and spirited sauciness on occasion where even the movie’s poster promises to ‘kick some asteroid’. It is too bad that the breezily bland storytelling cannot overcome its conventional confines as one may get a more stimulating kick engaging in the actual video game than viewing this kinetic crater kiddie showcase without much distinction or creative plucking pop. Basically, ‘Ratchet & Clank’ is safe and generic but never grabs the challenging aspects behind its one-note presentation in good versus evil, something that may in fact be a clichéd overload even for those tykes out there begging for these amiable planetary protectors to bring something fresh outside of its gaming inspiration.

The youthful mechanic Ratchet (voiced by James Arnold Taylor, who also provided the voicing duties in the video game) is a dreamer with heroic plans to join the prestigious glory-seeking Galactic Rangers. Specifically, the Galactic Rangers are known for their courageous crime-fighting activities on Ratchet’s home planet. Ratchet’s lofty ambition to hook up with the Galactic Rangers is somewhat alarming to his boss and mentor Grimroth (John Goodman) who is not too thrilled with his employee’s/protege’s questionable expectations. The Galactic Rangers are currently recruiting for skilled members to collaborate with them and expand the elite unit. For the star-eyed Ratchet, this is a golden opportunity to become a starry-eyed super-hero reaching for acceptance and self-importance.

In the meanwhile, a treacherous tyrant known as Chairman Drek (Paul Giamatti) is the galaxy’s menacing madman and one of the main reasons why the Galactic Rangers are nursing the thoughts of growing their interstellar roster of crime-stoppers. Drek is out of control as he has been destroying planets left and right. Naturally, the dastardly Drek needs to be stopped in his hideous mission to castrate and conquer. Drek’s calculating cronies include his second-in-command robot Victor (Sylvester Stallone) and ominous scientific aide Dr. Nefarious (Armin Shimerman from TV’s ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’). They are instrumental in creating killer robots whose sole purpose is out to eradicate the celebrated do-gooder Galactic Rangers. Of course, this begs the question: does Ratchet really know what he is getting into regarding his heralded aspirations to become a Galactic Ranger?

The courageous cat-and-and mouse...er, cat-and-robot duo of RATCHET & CLANK look to being the fun-loving saviors in the weak-kneed movie adaptation of the popular Playstation video game

The courageous cat-and-and mouse…whoops, cat-and-robot duo of RATCHET & CLANK look to being the fun-loving saviors in the weak-kneed movie adaptation of the popular PlayStation video game

It would take a pint-sized turncoat from Drek’s robotic renegades in the form of defective and rejected Clank (voiced by David Kaye) to escape the mechanical baddies and whisper the devious goings-on to the noble Galactic Rangers. The initial meeting of Ratchet and the British-sounding Clank is incidental but, when they thwart the sneak attack initiated by Drek’s tin-plated terrorists, the pair are invited into the applauded team’s inner circle courtesy of the tandem’s rescuing efforts. Galactic Ranger head honcho Captain Quark (Jim Ward) has his doubts about the eager talented twosome but the other members embrace Ratchet and Clank with open arms. Still, the common goal is to eliminate Drek and his horrible henchmen, Dr. Nefarious and Victor, from orchestrating the ruination of their jeopardised universe.

Although showing some spunk and off-balance wittiness, ‘Ratchet & Clank’ feels notoriously recycled as it obviously borrows from other animated fodder while tapping into the all-too-familiar ‘Star Wars’ mantra that features a young adventurer from a distant planet thriving to save the galaxy from sinister forces. There are colourful action sequences and gun-toting shenanigans that will entertain the impish kiddies as they engage in the elaborate space battles. Both leading lads Ratchet and especially the merry-minded, metal-plated Clank will come off as an adorable yet oddball duo to behold. The villainy of Drek and his devious drones will probably spark the giddiness in the wide-eyed youngsters. The common sense behind ‘Ratchet & Clank’ is to arm the movie’s presentation with the feel and feisty-oriented flavour of its video game blueprint. If that is the case, then why bother serving up a family fantasy on the big screen if it cannot separate occasionally from its vintage gamer blueprint?

Curiously, the fast-paced hit-and-miss jokes and the spry-looking make-up of this kid-approved cosmic caper is a passable revelation for a movie representing a fourteen-year old video game from yesteryear. Also, the notable names behind the characterizations in ‘Ratchet & Clank’ seem to give some measure of breezy joy to their on-screen roles. Celebrity voices instilled in the fired-up female warriors consist of the likes of Rosario Dawson’s Alaris and Bella Thorne’s ‘Cora’ which evoke the recent reminiscences of ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Daisy Ridley’s heroine Rey. Consequently, all these factors mentioned in the rousing yet rudimentary ‘Ratchet & Clank’ boils down to just another basic and tiresome ‘good-against-evil’ gimmick for the chorus of the kid-watching crowd.

It is a given that ‘Ratchet & Clank’ will be a spellbinding spectacle to the young viewers but for the rest of us let’s hope that a nostalgic rerun of ‘Josie And The Pussycats In Outer Space’ will suffice for our adequate needs blocking out the firepower crafty cat and his diminutive autotron sidekick.

Ratchet & Clank (2016)

Focus Features

1 hr. 34 mins.

Starring the voices of: James Arnold Taylor, David Kaye, John Goodman, Sylvester Stallone, Paul Giamatti, Rosario Dawson, Bella Thorne, Jim Ward, Armin Shimerman and Vincent Tong

Directed by: Kevin Munroe and Jerrica Cleland

MPAA Rating: PG

Genre: Sci-Fi/Space Fantasy/Action & Adventure/Kids & Family/Animation

Critic’s rating: ** stars (out of 4 stars)

(c) Frank Ochieng

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Category: Films, MEDIA, Scifi

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About the Author ()

Frank Ochieng has contributed film reviews to SF Crowsnest off and on since 2003. He has been published in other various movie site venues throughout the years. Ochieng has been part of The Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and had written film reviews for The Boston Banner newspaper (USA) and frequently is a media/entertainment panelist on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 AM on "The Jordan Rich Show" in Boston, Massachusetts/USA.

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