Friday, April 29, 2016

Ratchet & Clank review

By Nico Beland
Movie Review: A (3 ½ stars)
Two unlikely heroes, Ratchet (left) and Clank (right) ready to save the day in Ratchet & Clank

            Video game movies have quite a long history, don’t they? And rarely are they ever good, don’t get me wrong there are good movies about video games like the 1982 cult classic, Tron, its 2010 sequel, Tron: Legacy, the 2007 Donkey Kong documentary, The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, and more recently the 2012 Disney animated feature, Wreck-It Ralph. However, movie adaptations based off a specific video game franchises range from being either mediocre or just plain awful, you name it Super Mario Bros., Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, Resident Evil, and the entire career or director, Uwe Boll, and now we’re getting a live-action/CGI movie about Sonic the Hedgehog, ugh!
            Thankfully director, Kevin Munroe (TMNT), Rainmaker Entertainment, and Insomniac Games joined forces and created an CG animated feature based off one of the most iconic PlayStation video games of all time, aside from Crash Bandicoot, Jak and Daxter, and Uncharted. That’s right folks, Ratchet & Clank has gotten the movie treatment, with writers and developers who worked on the original games brought in to bring the world of Ratchet & Clank to the big screen, but does it pay off? That’s definitely an affirmative!
            The film’s animation beautifully captures the style of its games, the writing and humor feels right out of the game, the voice acting is spot on with James Arnold Taylor (Final Fantasy X, TMNT, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns), David Kaye (Batman: Arkham City, Resistance, Transformers: Robots in Disguise), and Jim Ward (The Fairly OddParents, Ben 10, Destroy All Humans!) reprising their roles as Ratchet, Clank, and Captain Qwark, and it’s just an overall well-made retelling of the first game’s story, with plenty of new elements brought in to make it fun for everyone, gamer or otherwise. Because let’s be honest, if I wanted to see the cutscenes from the first game, I’d go back to playing the game, it’s different enough to stand on its own while delivering plenty of fan service to those that played the games and grew up with it (like myself!).
            The film follows Ratchet, a Lombax ship mechanic, living on the Planet Veldin with his mentor, Grimroth (voiced by John Goodman-Monsters, Inc., Transformers: Age of Extinction, 10 Cloverfield Lane) who always dreamt of doing great things and becoming a hero like his childhood icon, the “Greatest Superhero in the Galaxy”, Captain Qwark who leads a team of heroes known as the Galactic Rangers, who specialize in saving planets when needed. After being rejected by Qwark due to his list of past illegal activities, Ratchet hopes one day he can become a hero and prove to the Galactic Rangers that he’s the right candidate for a member.
            Meanwhile, the evil chairman of the Blarg empire, Chairman Drek (voiced by Paul Giamatti-Sideways, Win Win, The Amazing Spider-Man 2) with his second in command, Doctor Nefarious (voiced by Armin Shimerman-Star Trek: The Next Generation, Seinfeld, Batman: The Brave and the Bold) and his robot henchman, Victor Von Ion (voiced by Sylvester Stallone-Rocky franchise, Antz, Creed) are creating an army of robots and a “Deplanetizer” laser cannon (Basically it’s like the laser on the Death Star from Star Wars) to destroy all the planets in the galaxy and create one giant planet consisting of pieces of each planet, all for the sake of Money, Moolah, Bolts. The conveyer belt malfunctions and ends up creating a little robot known as Clank who manages to escape Drek’s fleet and makes his way to Veldin where he meets Ratchet.
            Ratchet and Clank team up along with Captain Qwark and his Galactic Rangers, Cora (voiced by Bella Thorne-Shake It Up, Wizards of Waverly Place, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day), Elaris (voiced by Rosario Dawson-Men in Black II, The Rundown, Unstoppable), and Brax (voiced by Vincent Tong-Death Note, Storm Hawks, Iron Man: Armored Adventures) to stop Chairman Drek and Doctor Nefarious from total Galactic Annihilation.
         Overall, Ratchet & Clank is a breath of fresh air in terms of how to bring a video game to the movie watching crowd, the film doesn’t shy away from what the game offers and it totally embraces itself, almost like a legit fan film. The movie is filled with several jokes, visual gags, and even references to other PlayStation games like Jak and Daxter and Sly Cooper.
            But even if you didn’t know who Ratchet & Clank were, the movie stands on its own quite nicely, it retells the story the gamers already know but still stay fresh and new, the characters are developed well, the humor feels like the writing from the game, and it’s just a whole lot of fun.
            Besides the original characters, the new characters they brought in are a lot of fun, Cora is the typical butt kicking female Ranger, Elaris is the geek, Brax is the brute (basically he’s the Raphael of the group), and even the new voice actors of familiar characters are great. I think Paul Giamatti is a fine replacement for Kevin Michael Richardson who originally provided Drek’s voice in the game, hard to say which one I prefer, I liked them both a lot, but Kevin gets more points for the nostalgia.
            This could easily be one of the best video game movies ever made, it has a perfect balance between fan service for fans of the games and being an entertaining movie on its own. To me that’s what a film adaptation should be like, because while I liked movies like Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, I felt that was a movie that’s strictly for people who have played the games and the everyday movie watcher would probably be confused when watching it.

            This however, you can just come in with an open mind, bring your entire family, whether they played the games or not, and just have an exciting and fun night out with this movie, and I hope it sells well. People, let’s all make this movie a hit and set a new standard for how a video game movie adaptation should be like, I know I’m not done watching it, this movie brought me back to being a little kid back in 2002 again and any movie that can do that is doing something right.

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