Ratchet & Clank
2016, PG, 94 min. Directed by Kevin Munroe, Jericca Cleland. Voices by James Arnold Taylor, David Kaye, Paul Giamatti, Bella Thorne, Sylvester Stallone, Rosario Dawson, John Goodman, Jim Ward.
REVIEWED By Josh Kupecki, Fri., May 6, 2016
Here's the thing with film adaptations: They're tricky. You must be true to your source material while also bringing something new to the story, a visual panache or a reframing of the text, for instance. The cynic bemoaning that "the book was better" can be an insufferable refrain, a comfortable and lazy stance when things don't go your way. This is especially true of movies birthed from the realm of video games, of which I dare you to name one that rose above the level of crass commercialization to be an actual movie that was any good. Sure, the Resident Evil franchise can be hokey fun, but too often these film translations merely ape the experience of playing the game itself. And there is no shortage of places online where you can watch people endlessly do exactly that.
Based on the beloved, long-running Sony franchise, Ratchet & Clank arrives just in time to promote the next-gen console reboot of that selfsame title (quelle coincidence). The film is basically a retelling of the first R&C game, an origin story of how a space mechanic from humble origins met a defective robot, and how the two went on to save the universe from a greedy corporation and a mad scientist hellbent on destruction. It should be fun, family-friendly entertainment, light and nimble, enjoyable for the kids, with maybe a little something sprinkled in for adults. But Ratchet & Clank fails on virtually every level (pardon the pun). Coming on strong with the attitude of "Yes, we know this is a shameless, 90-minute commercial," the film then proceeds to behave exactly like that, a boring and bland story, breaking the fourth wall a few times in the same way that your uncle might make some off-color joke at a family gathering to uncomfortable silence, and you just feel embarrassed and sad. I suspect, as well, that the voice talent on hand here (Goodman, Giamatti, Dawson, and Stallone) most likely entered into some sort of devil's contract so that Sony would fund some other infinitely more worthwhile project for them. It is a loud yet lifeless movie, with threadbare tropes and useless 3-D. You're better off picking up a controller and directing your own story.