Kernel Rating (out of 5):
MPAA Rating: PG Length: 94 minutes
Age Appropriate For: 6+. This film serves as a kind of prequel backstory for the same-named video game, and although it has some typical action violence (explosions, lots of weapons usage, and a fight for the safety of the galaxy), rude jokes, sexualized female characters (the women in the Galactic Rangers are both drawn that way), and bathroom humor (including some vomit), it skews fairly young. Its very straightforward plot and simplistic characterizations will work for young viewers, but won’t appeal to older tweens or parents.
‘Ratchet and Clank’ tries for snarky self-awareness, but the animated film offers very little in terms of story or characters. This flat children’s feature is disappointingly uncreative.
By Roxana Hadadi
The video game “Ratchet and Clank” came out years ago, and it’s been a popular franchise for the PlayStation module. Tied into the video game’s re-release is this same-named film, operating as a kind of backstory for the game and its main characters. With its flat animation style and its uninspired plot, though, “Ratchet and Clank” does very little to attract or amuse unfamiliar audiences.
Why “Ratchet and Clank” is even getting a theater release is kind of a mystery. The appeal for this film is so specific that it’s unclear who the filmmakers want the audience to be. Is it original players of the game? Because they would be adults by now. Is it nostalgic parents bringing their kids? Because the game doesn’t do anything to draw in parents—no deep themes like the ones that have worked so well for Pixar and Disney—and both older and younger viewers will be bored by the long stretches in “Ratchet and Clank” where nothing seems to happen.
The film takes place in the Solana Galaxy, where the feline- and fox-like Ratchet (voiced by James Arnold Taylor) dreams of being a Galactic Ranger. The group of five Rangers protect the galaxy from evil, and their leader, Captain Qwark (voiced by Jim Ward, of “Minions”), is Ratchet’s living idol. With his strapping chest and gigantic chin, Qwark looks like he could punch an evildoer in the face with no problem at all, and that’s the kind of power Ratchet wants—and the kind of fame.
When there’s news of an opening in the Rangers, Ratchet decides to try out to join, but his rejection by Qwark shakes everything he believed about himself and about the Rangers. He’s re-energized, though, when he meets the robot Clank (voiced by David Kaye), who was created to be evil but who escaped from his captors in an attempt to be good.
Together, Ratchet and Clank uncover the plans by the evil Chairman Drek (voiced by Paul Giamatti, of “San Andreas”) to destroy the galaxy, but he’s not alone in his attempt to create the “perfect” world with parts from others he’s destroyed. Instead, Drek is aided by a variety of villains, and one of his supporter ends up being someone Ratchet and Clank would never have suspected. How are they supposed to prevail against such evil and such power?
“Ratchet and Clank” does very little with its story, relying more on the action violence that pushes scenes forward: Various weapons are tossed around like a buzz saw and a machine that turns individuals into sheep; there’s a robotic bad guy capable of wreaking havoc, voiced bizarrely by Sylvester Stallone (of “Creed”); and there’s an army of miniature minions that look, well, like Minions, but aren’t as cute.
There’s barely an honest emotional moment anywhere, as the film constantly uses quips, self-referential snark, and slapstick humor instead of building real emotional moments. Ratchet and Clank barely seem to bond at all despite being best friends, and one of their only opportunities is foiled by a malfunctioning chair that keeps derailing a meaningful conversation between the two.
At one point, a character says to another, “If you’re going to use a one-liner, it should make sense and be relevant!” Too bad that “Ratchet and Clank” doesn’t follow its own advice on a larger scale: very little here makes sense, and even less of it feels timely for current audiences. “Ratchet and Clank” is mostly a miss.
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