Having been burned by scores of video game movies in the past, I admit to a rather large chip on my shoulder when walking into seeing PlayStation stalwart Ratchet & Clank on the silver screen. Fortunately, that chip didn’t color me from knowing a digital train wreck was fast approaching, and what a wreck it was. Humor has always been a key element of the R&C franchise and that’s where the seams start to show in this celluloid translation.
You see, Ratchet & Clank (the movie) just isn’t funny. It’s most clever moments are mostly visual gags, such as when the bad guy Chairman Dreks’ henchman resume texting on their phones every time the boss turns his back.
The common defense will be that this is a kids movie, and those are exactly the kind of hokes a child would probably laugh at. But when R&C competition is the whip smart writing of Pixar films, the stirring compassion and memorability of Disney’s catalogue and even DreamWorks and Universal, it’s hard to see this film coming out anywhere in the top five, let alone on top.
Furthermore, few scenes last longer than 30 seconds, whisking us between locations without really taking the time to develop its characters. None of the relationships display the charm that the animation does, even when it comes to the titular duo. In fact, I can’t remember many scenes where R&C are actually together. They meet on a high note during a momentous chase scene – but their shared time is limited, and forgetful, after that. There’s a good movie hiding underneath it all, but it takes some digging to find.
Sadly, the back half of Ratchet & Clank focuses mostly on a space station setting that gives the animators very little work with. The payoff looks great, though, as do the many other explosions and space-based dogfights throughout the movie. R&C fulfills everything you might expect from one of the games in the franchise, but it still left me unsatisfied because there was no controller to be found. As game-to-film adaptations go, it’s an inoffensive iteration, I just wish it didn’t go on for 90 minutes.