It’s a bit of uncharted territory here for the Codec Moments team, we’ve never reviewed a movie before, but given our fondness of the Ratchet & Clank series we couldn’t really pass up the chance to watch the film and see if it can break the usual cycle of poor game-to-screen conversions. We’ve covered the game already, and liked revisiting the origins of the unlikely duo that were such a staple of the PS2 era, so were really hoping that the movie was worth 90 minutes of our time.
Firstly, the Ratchet & Clank movie is only getting a digital and DVD release in the UK, and not even a DVD release in other areas of the world. It’s not clear why this is, or what decisions were made to not bring the adventure to Blu-Ray where the increased resolution and capacity for higher quality audio would showcase the animation much better… and especially given that the game includes its cutscenes in that format. Sure, digital can provide an HD resolution, though I’ve yet to watch a film downloaded that does match the video, colour and sound standard from a Blu-Ray. This is just me in fairness, I like to see a movie in the best format I can, but it could be a dealbreaker for some.
So what’s the movie about? The galaxy is in peril, as the evil Chairman Drek – director of an unspecified company – is roaming round local star systems with a gigantic spaceship destroying planets. A bit too ably assisted by Dr. Nefarious, a disgruntled tech support worker for the Galactic Space Rangers, Drek’s also building a monstrous robot army designed to kill off the aforementioned Rangers and ensure no one can prevent his dastardly plans. Meanwhile, on a backwater planet largely ignored by the rest of the populated worlds, lives a Lombax named Ratchet who wiles away his hours fixing broken spaceships and dreaming of joining that elite unit of Space Rangers. He gets his chance when Captain Qwark and co. come to town to hold tryouts for the newest member of their team, though predictably he fails to impress. Meanwhile, on the other side of the galaxy… Clank is being put together in the Warbot factory, but something’s gone terribly wrong and he’s targeted for disassembly. Cue a dramatic escape, a damaged spaceship, and a crash landing in our hero’s territory to bring the pair together. With the partnership defined and the story set, it’s off to spend the rest of the film doing what these two do best – play with ridiculous weapons and dodge the ineptitude of Qwark and friends.
Interestingly, the plot of the film is actually slightly different from the plot of the game, or rather the key players have additions with Nefarious being held back in the game until the last act, but is a key part from the outset in the Ratchet & Clank movie. This means that even if you’ve finished the game and seen everything it has to offer, there’s still quite a bit you can get from sitting through the DVD. It also means that if you’ve got encyclopedic knowledge of the series you’re in for easter eggs galore to spot – taking in everything from hints about the previous games, to the continuing tribute to Dan Johnson. The voice cast get more airtime as well, given the amount some of them will have cost it’s not surprising. Paul Giamatti (who didn’t feature in the recorded dialogue for the game), Rosario Dawson, Sylvester Stallone and John Goodman all perform alongside the series original cast, which sits naturally given that across the course of many games we’ve got very used to James Arnold Taylor and Jim Ward. It’s nice to see that the current trend of replacing renowned voice actors with Hollywood talent hasn’t come this way, and the game cast are able to really throw themselves into the roles.
For years the series has always been described as like playing a Pixar videogame, and now there’s finally a counter argument with a Pixar-style movie being like a videogame – particularly when you spot environments that are identical to those you’ve explored in 3D already. Animation and scene detailing is up to the standards of Insomniac, though they’ve not produced the Ratchet & Clank movie; and the pacing and structure is there that meets the requirements of both film and game fans. It’s not a drawn out film, and you won’t find yourself with long periods of time to think about what’s going on, so with all the bright colours, silly humour and cute characters it’s brilliant for kids. Though that’s definitely something I couldn’t quite figure out – is this pitched for children or the gamers? Coming from PlayStation Originals like the Powers TV series, it’s not strictly done for the gaming community, and with the ability to draw on Sony’s own TV and animated film division, it should be slick and a great example of how to produce movie entertainment. It won’t go down as a classic of all time, but it’s fun and well produced, and hits the mark from a series complementing point of view. The low key release means there’s likely not much in the way of marketing going to be around for this, just don’t let that put you off what is a decent animated movie with laughs and heart.
A review DVD of the Ratchet & Clank movie was provided by Lionsgate’s PR team, and the it’ll be released digitally on the 22nd August, and DVD on the 29th August.