Rated PG for action and some rude humor
Written by T.J. Fixman, Kevin Munroe, Gerry Swallow
Directed by Kevin Munroe, Jericca Cleland
Starring James Arnold Taylor, David Kaye, Jim Ward, Rosario Dawson, Paul Giametti, John Goodman, Armin Shimerman, Bella Thorne, Sylvester Stallone and more
A great script can't save a terrible movie, but it can make a decent one surprisingly entertaining.
"Ratchet and Clank," based on a long-running series of PlayStation video games, turns a predictable nobody-turned-hero plot into a quirky, fun space adventure with some surprisingly clever moments. You won't need to know anything about the games to be entertained, and if you do know about the games you should still enjoy this new, respectful take on a familiar universe.
For those of us in the first category, the movie starts with a young alien named Ratchet who dreams of joining the Galactic Rangers. When he run into Clank, a small robot with the knowledge of a big problem, he ends up getting sucked into an adventure bigger than he ever imagined. As is expected with this kind of story, he also gains some friends and learns some life lessons in the process.
What's unexpected is the movie's balance of humor, balanced perfectly between too smart for kids and too dumb for adults. The first sign of this comes early on, when the usual dramatic space shot comes with a subtitle that says "Dramatic villainous monologue in..." followed by the requisite countdown. A subtle Wilhelm Scream joke, an entertaining costume malfunction that isn't even slightly naughty, and an amusing discussion about the proper adjective for the resident mad scientist are only a small sampling of the treats that follow.
For those who are familiar with the games, Ratchet's origin story here falls in line with his origin in the 2016 reboot of the game (which is different than it was in previously established games). The plot is similar to the reboot game as well, though naturally condensed due to the different run times (video games play out over a much longer time). There's also a few changes to the ending, though both contain the expected sequel hook.
Ratchet, Clank and Captain Quark are all voiced by the same actors as in the video games, and the rest of the voice cast is sprinkled with some surprisingly famous names. My favorites are Paul Giametti as Chairman Drek, Rosario Dawson as Elaris, and Armin Shimerman as Dr. Nefarious. Everyone sounds like they're having a ton of fun, but at the same time they never let the movie devolve into a joke. Part of the secret of "Ratchet and Clank" is that it's not just trying to make you laugh – these characters are having an adventure. Each of them just happens to have a good sense of humor and a wonderful turn of phrase.
It's not destined to become a classic – as I said, the plot is predictable even if you have no experience with the games. But it manages to be a lot of fun, full of bright, flashing adventure for kids and clever wordplay for adults, and that's a benchmark that puts it above a lot of kids' movies that have come out in the past several years.
On the most basic level, it's an entertaining hour and a half you won't regret having experienced when it's over. And sometimes, that's all you want out of a movie.