Recently here on Rotoscopers.com, MJ Edwards wrote a great piece entitled The Dangers of Hype for an Animated Movie. In the piece, she shared her experience about greatly anticipating Zootopia and how the movie, as good as it was, couldn’t quite meet the expectations she had set. I totally get that experience; however, sometimes films can be the reverse. You can go in expecting garbage and then end up having a decent time. That was my experience watching Ratchet and Clank.
The reason I wasn’t expecting much is because I’m not familiar with the game, and video game movies have routinely been razzie-worthy bad. Movies like Super Mario Brothers, Hitman: Agent 47, or Streetfighter are some of the worst movies ever made. Plus, Ratchet and Clank had a director I’d never head of and was from a studio associated with the game. Not much to get excited for.
So I went to an early screening before the current barrage of bad reviews came in and actually found myself enjoying Ratchet and Clank. I admit it probably should have been released on Netflix or straight to DVD, but I was decently entertained by it.
So let’s talk about the movie. Ratchet (James Arnold Taylor) is a Lombax, which looks kind of like a cross between a cat and lemur. He has dreamed of being a member of the Galactic Rangers, a crime force that fights bad guys across the galaxy.
Led by Captain Qwark (Jim Ward), the Rangers hold auditions for new members, and Ratchet at first fails, but then an opportunity comes for him to prove himself. Along the way, he meets a wise-cracking robot named Clank (David Kaye). They all work to defeat a team of villains—Doctor Nefarious (Armin Shimerman) and Chairman Drek (Paul Giamatti).
Watching Ratchet and Clank reminded me of Jimmy Neutron or the Buzz Lightyear shorts. It’s an energetic space movie where the good guys beat the bad guys. The script had a fun, self-aware quality, and there were some decent jokes. I understand the game has a more teenage level of humor so that may be a bit of a disappointment for fans, but I don’t see anything wrong with making an adventure for kids to enjoy.
The developers of the movie were very clever in combining it with the release of the new game for PS4. Not only did this help with marketing (the game has broken sales records), but it also made the movie incredibly cheap to make because modeling and other expenses could be shared with the game. For a budget of only $20 million, Ratchet and Clank looks really good. As a point of contrast, this year’s Norm of the North looked far poorer on an $18 million budget.
I’ve heard some people claim the movie is a cheap attempt to cash in on the popularity of the game. What they call cheap, I call smart, so I guess it just depends on your point of view.
They did get a pretty talented voice cast, including Paul Giamatti who is a lot of fun as Chairman Drek and John Goodman as Grimroth Razz, Ratchet’s mechanic father figure. Rosario Dawson, Bella Thorne, and Sylvester Stallone all voice characters. I also think it is cool that they used the voice actors from the game for Ratchet and Clank—James Arnold Taylor and David Kaye. There’s no need to replace them with celebrity voices.
I’m not going to tell you Ratchet and Clank is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen or will be rivaling Finding Dory for an Oscar nomination, but I don’t think every animated film should have to. I think it is perfectly fine to have a good-natured space adventure for kids with some decent animation and jokes. I have no problem with that at all.
I guess like the saying goes ‘the secret to happiness in life is low expectations’. I went in expecting to hate it and left feeling entertained and happy I had seen it.
Anyway, if any of you aren’t scared off by the bad reviews, I’d be curious to hear what you think of it.
Edited by: Kelly Conley