Netflixing: Ratchet and Clank

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After reviewing The Angry Birds Movie, it only seemed fair to delve into the other movie based on a game we got in 2016:

No, not that one. I meant the other other movie based on a game we got in 2016:

No, that’s not what I meant, either. Look, you’ve already read the title of this post. I should think you know which movie I’m going to be discussing today.

In any case, this is Ratchet and Clank.

Sorry, Who?

Ratchet and Clank. You know—these guys.

Well how am I supposed to know who they are? I thought you were the one who was interested in them. You clicked on this post, after all.

Apparently, Ratchet and Clank are (is?) a Sony property that has appeared on its Playstation consoles. And the pair of them is (are?) popular enough to warrant the creation of an animated feature film based on their exploits.

The central conceit of the game series appears to be cool weapons, and yeah, that’s a good thing for a game to have. It’s not quite as good a thing for a movie to have, seeing as how there’s no interactive element that lets the viewer feel like they’re using these cool weapons, but it’s still a mark in any movie’s favor.

And seeing as how I am still looking for that game-based movie that finally brings the genre out of the dark and allows it to find its audience, I thought I should give it a shot. It was on Netflix, after all.

So let’s get down to business.

The Story

Clank is a robot and Ratchet is a…thylacine, I would guess, based on his appearance.

Ratchet is a screwup mechanic who dreams of one day joining a group of highly trained officers who go by a name that impossible to take seriously—the “Space Rangers”. Despite the fact that they are largely inept and do more destroying than saving, Ratchet is enamored with the group and hero-worships them to no end.

And he finally joins this clique, via a series of outrageous coincidences, each one less believable than the last, including:

  • The Space Rangers just happen to be looking for a fifth member.
  • They just happen to be holding tryouts on Ratchet’s backwater planet.
  • The bad guys just happen to be planning on killing the Space Rangers as soon as they return from Ratchet’s planet.
  • The bad guys plan on using killbots to do the job.
  • The killbot factory is struck by lightning during production.
  • The lightning just happens to create a benevolent killbot (Clank) who gets the bad guys’ plans uploaded into his brain.
  • Clank escapes on a spacecraft that just happens to crash on Ratchet’s planet, within a stone’s throw of Ratchet himself.

Somebody call Charles Dickens and let him know his record’s been broken.

That last sentence is funny, because Charles Dickens is famous for…you know what? You’re already on the internet. I’m sure you can look it up.

And the story proceeds from there. Ratchet learns the perils of fame, there is a betrayal, and they have to stop a couple of villains…

…who use a weapon called the Death Star Deplanetizer to blow up entire planets. One of them is trying to gather up the best pieces of the shattered planets so he can create the perfect world. The other one just wants to destroy things as a way of getting revenge. And yadda yadda yadda there’s a big space battle.

No, Jerry, YOU yadda yadda’d over the best part…of the 1990s

The Humor

I got less laughs out of this one than I got from The Angry Birds Movie. However, it was blessedly free from the potty humor that punctuated that other movie.

The villains are depicted as Vaudevillian dimwits who seem hardly capable of being a threat to the entire galaxy. But where this worked in other movies, such as Spaceballs, it kind of fell flat here, not because it was a bad approach to take, but because literally every joke they cracked has been done a million times before and a million times better.

And it’s not as if the actors simply had no talent. There were big names attached to this project, like Paul Giamatti, John Goodman, and Rosario Dawson. But the writing was incredibly simplistic. It would not be too presumptuous to assume that the filmmakers decided that a cartoon meant for kids didn’t need any kind of sophistication (despite the slew of powerfully written animated films out there).

And, honestly, it kind of works.

Granted, this movie accomplishes nothing grand, but, unlike The Angry Birds Movie, it doesn’t really make any mistakes, either. There are no glaring pacing issues or surprise deus ex machina moments. It doesn’t bog itself down in pop culture references that will date the film. The heroes aren’t hateable, even at their most annoying.

Overall, it’s a very safe movie—formulaic to a fault and averse to any risk taking. It’s plain vanilla ice cream.

My Judgment

Ratchet and Clank is inoffensive. I have no regrets after watching it, but, at the same time, nothing in it thrilled me. Its best quality is that it’s a worry-free experience. The bright colors and beautiful scenery, combined with a dearth of potty humor or anything offensive, means that you probably won’t have reservations showing it to your children.

I would’ve been very unhappy to have paid full ticket price for it, but on Netflix, where it’s cheap as free, I have no reason to complain.

One risk it did take was how it incorporated elements from the game into the movie, specifically the cool weapons. And fans of the original game will probably appreciate that.

Give it a watch, if you’ve got nothing better to do.