FILM REVIEW: Ratchet and Clank

In a galaxy far, far away, an idealistic youngster stuck on a barren desert planet, finds his life changed when a small, articulate ‘droid carrying a warning message of supreme importance crash lands on his world, teaming him up with a band of intergalactic police, and catapulting him into a battle against an intergalactic villain armed with a planet-destroying super-weapon… sound familiar?

I wasn’t really aware of Ratchet & Clank before seeing this film, and I’ve certainly never seen (or played) the video game(s), so I’ve no idea how this film relates to those, but it does borrow heavily from Star Wars and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy – two franchises currently sitting pretty in the Disney stable.

The plot centres around Ratchet, a fox-like creature, who lives on a dust-bowl of a planet (read Tatooine), whiling away his time as a mechanic but dreaming of running away to join the Galactic Rangers (read Nova Corp). At the same time, the villain – a megalomaniac with planet-sized, planet destroying space station – is set upon destroying parts of the universe in his ultimate plan to create the perfect world. Aided and abetted by his side-kicks – a mad scientist and a villainous robot (wonderfully voiced by Sly Stallone), they create an army of robots to destroy the Galactic Rangers, but an error on the production line produces a reject (Clank), who escapes his programming with a copy of the villain’s dastardly plan. Through circumstance, he crash-lands on the desert planet, and teams up with Ratchet to get the plans to the right people (you see where this is going now)…

I have mixed feelings on Ratchet & Clank. My six-year old (and in fact a lot of the younger children in the cinema) didn’t enjoy it as much as say, Zootropolis (Zootopia in the US). It’s very much a boys’ film – the two female characters (one of the Rangers, and the other the Rangers’ weapons builder) are really sidelined. The film is visually loud, with a lot going on in some scenes – too much for a small child to take in. A lot of the humour is actually much older – early-to-mid-teens – with a lot of text gags that only adults will get (because older teens will never see this – my 12 & 14 year olds were not even interested in going after seeing the trailer). So demographically this is aimed at say 8-11 year old boys (junior school years 3 to 6), probably fans of the Star Wars animated TV show already – which is pretty narrow.

As an adult, I felt a little bit cheated when I saw this. Some of it was really Star Wars – there is a pod-racer chase which is literally “lifted” from The Phantom Menace. As mentioned previously, the female characters are sidelined, which leads to a really unbalanced film when comparing with other Disney offerings. The voicings were fine – Paul Giamatti and Sly score points (Sly’s robot really reminded me of Max from Disney’s doomed The Black Hole, some +30 years older, trying to be Darth Vader), but no-one else really stood out – even Armin Shimerman was somewhat understated, too.

I am a big Disney fan, but on reflection, I was probably more excited about seeing this than their target audience was. Certainly the audience shot out of the cinema at the end, rather than hang around during the start of the credits in case there might have been some last visual gags. Again, to compare with the recent Zootropolis – we’ll be buying that when it comes out on Blu-Ray – Ratchet & Crank will not stand up to a repeat watching… sorry!

GS Rating: 2.5/5
GS Blogger: SilverFox


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