Saturday 3 September 2016

Ratchet & Clank

I know, I know. Video Games and movies usually go together about as well as oil and seagulls. But this time it works... kind of... which is a win, right?

Directed by Kevin Munroe and out now on DVD, Ratchet & Clank does what everybody wishes the Resident Evil movies did, and sticks like digital glue to the source material. The plan was obviously to make a big Ratchet & Clank flavoured fuss in 2016, what with the PS4 reboot (which this closely follows) as well, although that didn't really happen. It certainly didn't help that this film flopped harder than Eric Pickles off a diving board at the box office. Like I said though, it's not the painful disaster you might reasonably expect

Chairman Drek (Paul Giamatti) starts blowing up planets all over the place. People of various races would rather that he stop, as they live these planets. So the Galactic Rangers – Captain Qwark (Jim Ward), Brax Lectrus (Vincent Tong), Cora Veralux (Bella Thorne), and Elaris (Rosario Dawson) set out to stop him. But four people can't face an army alone! So they advertise to recruit, er, one more member.

Yup, that's right; despite a false start, that fifth member ends up being Ratchet (James Arnold Taylor) who by that point has teamed up with Clank (David Kaye), who also comes along for the ride. Now, fans may well have noticed that the cast is familiar. Giamatti bumped out Kevin Michael Richardson for the remake (probably specifically so he could match the film), but otherwise the above all have an established history in their respective Ratchet & Clank roles. Everybody does themselves proud too, with acting that would sit comfortably in a much higher-profile kids movie.

The Hollywood credentials have been beefed up a little by giving John Goodman and Sylvester Stallone minor parts (and to be honest, I thought they both sounded like John Goodman). Goodman plays a good guy, funnily enough; new character Grimroth Razz, who is both employer and (presumably) father figure to Ratchet. He also looks suspiciously like Sulley from Monsters Inc in fancy dress. Stallone, meanwhile, plays evil henchbot Victor Von Ion. Just as well Stallone only lends his voice here, because nowadays his face looks like a Sylvester Stallone mask stretched over a boulder.

Anyway, Insomniac Games apparently helped quite a bit with several aspects of the film, which certainly explains why it remains so faithful to the franchise. I'd be very interested to learn which parts of the script they had the most influence on, because here's the thing: Ratchet & Clank is both a terrible movie and a great movie, which version you see depending on which two minutes you're watching. Some lines in the script display razor-sharp wit, and on occasion are strengthened further by superb direction and spot-on delivery. At other times, the film's so unfunny you want to chew your own elbows off. Those are the moments where the jokes are visible but entirely ineffectual, like origami sledgehammers.

For example, there's a recurring joke where the 'Blarg' start texting on their phones the second Drek turns his back, which isn't even remotely funny the first time. Drek himself doesn't have a single good joke for the entire running time of the movie, and God knows the writers gave him enough attempts. Although you might expect the dumb and arrogant Qwark to get most of the good lines, Ratchet probably gets the lion's share. Such as when he asks an elderly customer at the garage where he works:

“Are you ready to have your mind blown?”

“I'll take that as a yes!”

It's better on screen, trust me. And, er, I've just ruined it. Well despite the overload of bad jokes, there are still plenty of other good ones, and you should give them a go if you're at all interested in this movie. The worst parts of the script aren't as awful as they could've been, as the story moves at an admirably speedy pace. Mainly one for franchise fans, certainly; but even disinterested bystanders will probably find a few reasons to chuckle.

Nope, clank think of a good pun. 3/5


Luke Kemp

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