Ugh… It’s easy to make a mistake when creating a movie – easy to be misguided, to take the wrong approach, for a joke to fall flat. It’s difficult to make a film that gets almost everything wrong and comes off as a bland, boring, unneeded mess (unless you’re Fox making a Marvel movie, of course). Ratchet & Clank suffers from exceptional mismanagement of what very well could have been the first good movie based on a video game. I mean, what else can you expect from a movie that’s released by a subsidiary of a subsidiary!? The movie studio didn’t care, and it shows.
Ok, let’s talk games vs. movies for a minute. Film studios are threatened by the gaming community – they work hard on a product and want maximum profit, but when some of their key demographic would rather play a game than watch a movie they tend not to understand. To a gamer, it makes perfect sense. Why should I go see Kevin Hart’s 17th comedy of the year that’s really just the same as the last one when I could play Fallout 4 all weekend and gain a unique experience personally-tailored to my tastes? This, combined with the obnoxious notion that somehow still exists saying video games are only for kids, has led to a long history of awful films based on games that truly only exist to extort money out of diehard fans. No passion for the material, no passion for art, no passion for filmmaking…just a simple cash-grab. The conspiracy theorist in me says this is partially to punish gamers for enjoying games over movies, but we can’t really prove that so let’s move on…
Ratchet & Clank was supposed to be the exception. Insomniac Games, the developer of the series, was heavily involved in the filmmaking process. And it shows – for better and worse. Overall, the film still feels like a movie studio said “meh, who cares? Let’s extort some money out of kids’ parents,” but there’s some solid heart and even charm at times that feels like someone gave a damn when making this movie. The unfortunate part is Ratchet & Clank bounces back and forth between a bad movie that talks down to kids for money and a bad movie made by people who don’t know how to make a movie. It’s literally the worst of both worlds.
And, oh god, you know right away it’s going to be bad. The opening logos are so awkward you know something’s up…how do you mess up opening logos!??!?! One lazy transition after another for some lackluster logos that tell you about six different companies produced this movie and clearly not one of them knew what they were doing! And this abhorrent editing persists throughout the film. There were times I thought there was a problem with the projector – maybe it was skipping or glitching somehow – only to find out later that, yes folks, it’s supposed to play out that way. Scenes that were deemed too long are noticeably cut in the middle without regard to flow or coherence.
And the lip-syncing…the unforgivable sin of this film. There are actually a goodly amount of times the mouths of the characters either lag behind the voiceover, lead the voiceover, or just don’t match the dialogue being spoken whatsoever. It’s actually rather baffling the movie was released in its current condition. Frankly, between the drunken lip-sync and coked-out editing the film is rather repugnant. Honestly, it’s kind of sad because the rest of the film is pretty much just lackluster. The writing is bad, but not entirely awful – I even found myself laughing from time to time. The acting is fine, with the exception of James Arnold Taylor as Ratchet and David Kaye as Clank who are truly phenomenal. If nothing else, those two performances definitely made me want to play the games.
Speaking of which, the elephant in the room – how does this all stack up to the games? Well, I’m sorry to say I have yet to play them, so I may not be the best judge of that. But based on some gameplay I’ve seen and the double-entendre-filled titles of some entries, the Animaniacs-level raunchiness that seems to permeate the games has been all but expunged from the film. The closest thing we get is the movie poster saying “Kick Some Asteroid!” and a brief line at the beginning that is a mildly-veiled butt joke. (Seriously, guys? You couldn’t sneak in one Going Commando, Size Matters, or Up Your Arsenal joke in there??) It’s very much for kids, though not truly suitable for any audience; just a tad too rude for puritanical families and a little too generic/clean for longtime fans or moviegoers without sticks up their butts. Kids may enjoy it, but don’t waste your money taking them.
This whole experience was rather sad, because you could tell at least a few of the people who worked on Ratchet & Clank cared. They cared far more than the majority of direct-to-DVD releases ever do, and yet the whole thing feels about on-par with one of those. It’s about what I’d expect from one of those bargain-bin $5 releases that you buy to hypnotize your kid for awhile while you mix yourself a couple of drinks in the other room; not acceptable as a theatrical release. Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen DVD releases with better animation – certainly better editing. It’s sad, a little pathetic, and just another example film companies, game companies, moviegoers, and gamers will use in the future to say “You can’t make a good movie based on a video game.” I know that can’t be true, I just hope our redemption comes sooner than later. Maybe Angry Birds or Warcraft…ugh…
What did you think of Ratchet & Clank? Let us know in the comments below!
Check out the trailer here:
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