Spoilers ahead, for both the film and game!
I was so stoked when the Ratchet & Clank movie was about to be released, and then I didn’t even see it in theaters…
But that’s not what we’re here to talk about today! I bought the movie on Blu-Ray, watched it, and now I’m ready to give my thoughts and impressions.
A Galactic Flop
Since Ratchet & Clank released a few months ago as of the time of this writing, I guess it’s appropriate to talk about the film’s critical reception and box office performance before I get into my opinions. Long story short, the film did not do well in either category. Ratchet & Clank bombed at the box office, and did not fare much better with critics. I didn’t really look into too many videos or reviews at the time (I wanted to stay spoiler free), but I do remember people saying that the film had weird pacing.
I’m honestly surprised that Ratchet & Clank was not a success, especially considering how incredibly small its budget was compared to other animated features. Ratchet & Clank was produced for roughly $20 million. For perspective, Disney’s Zootopia and DreamWorks’ Kung Fu Panda 3 were produced for $150 and $145 million, respectively. Granted, these are major projects from two huge production companies, but the numbers are important for the sake of comparison. In addition, Zootopia was still in theaters when Ratchet & Clank released, so this obviously had a huge impact on the film’s performance.
One thing to note about Ratchet & Clank’s small budget is the fact that the film was a collaborative effort between multiple different studios. Insomniac Games, creators of the Ratchet & Clank franchise, shared a ton of their models and assets with the film’s two production studios, Rainmaker Entertainment and Blockade Entertainment. The film was written by T.J. Fixman, who has written for the Ratchet & Clank games since the Future series, and directed by Kevin Munroe. All of these different talents combined to produce a low cost animated feature.
Ratchet & Clank Has An Awesome Cast
Having finally seen the film for myself, I can definitely say that the pacing was one of the more notable things about film. Just about everything happens really fast in Ratchet & Clank. The titular heroes meeting, Ratchet’s Galactic Ranger training, the infiltration of the Deplanetizer, these are all moments that come and go in almost the blink of an eye. However, the film does give an adequate amount of time to its slower moments.
John Goodman’s character, Grimroth Razz, gives a heartwarming speech to Ratchet after he failed a really important mission. Captain Qwark’s moments of betrayal and regret are also really nicely done, as is the reunion of the Galactic Rangers. These slower, more dramatic scenes never felt out of place or in contrast with the rest of the film’s relatively fast pace and humorous tone. For me, they were moments to step away from the action, and give depth and resonance to the characters (which Ratchet & Clank has a fantastic cast of).
Comedy and Action
Ratchet & Clank is a series that is well known for its humor, and its film adaptation does not disappoint. While it’s not the funniest Ratchet & Clank story ever told, I still found myself laughing out loud on more than one occasion. Special mention to Zed, Chairman Drek’s robot assistant. That little guy definitely got the biggest laughs out of me.
Where Ratchet & Clank really shines is in its dialogue. I loved seeing all of the different character interactions and dynamics, as well as their funny banter. Moments like this really let character personality shine through. One of the best examples is a really early scene in the film where Ratchet is showing off his “adjustments” to a customer’s vehicle. Said customer only brought his ship in for a repair, but as Ratchet himself says, “why repair, when you can improve?”
Needless to say, Ratchet’s “improvements” aren’t very welcomed, or very successful for that matter. At the flip of a switch, Ratchet and the customer begin to rocket off into the valley’s of Planet Veldin. Ratchet quickly begins to think of a way to fix the situation, all while maintaining his snarky sense of humor, dodging debris, and dealing with the terrified screams of the customer. The film is packed with moments like this, and they are arguably the best parts of the entire adventure.
As famous as Ratchet & Clank is for its humor, the series is equally famous for its arsenal of ridiculous weapons and crazy action. While the film is not quite as action packed as I’d like it to be, the few action scenes that the film does show off are really well done.
Ratchet & Clank exhibits quite a number of famous weapons from the series. We get the standard Combuster, Fusion Bomb, and Buzz Blades, but we also get some deep cuts like the Tornado Launcher, Alpha Disruptor, Sheepinator, Walloper, Cryoshot, and Thundersmack. And that’s not even all of them! If there’s one thing that Ratchet & Clank absolutely nails, it’s fan service.
Quality Animation, But Nothing Too Spectacular
To quickly talk about the film’s animation quality, its good but nothing especially amazing. Characters, environments, and gadgets all look really nice, but definitely don’t stand up to the film’s contemporaries. Just try to compare the fur texture on Ratchet to that of Judy and Nick from Zootopia, it’s really no contest. But I will say that the characters all move and animate beautifully. I’m kind of a sucker for facial expressions and the way characters move in animation, and Ratchet & Clank gets these aspects very right. The animation team does an especially good job with Ratchet, a character who is super expressive and full of energy and enthusiasm.
The Game Based On The Movie, Based On The Game
As someone who has also played the film’s accompanying game, having experience with both has brought a few issues to mind. The Ratchet & Clank PlayStation 4 game’s story received criticism for relying too heavily on the plot of the movie to fill in certain details. But honestly, I feel like it’s the other way around, and that’s probably because I experienced the game first.
Because the game was not restricted to any certain running time, it was able to flesh out many moments in the story. There were multiple times when I was watching the movie, and a scene I had been conditioned to have certain expectations for ended super quickly, Clank’s escape from the robot factory being the biggest example.
Things like this are likely a result of the game and movie being somewhat of a package deal. The full experience of this new generation of Ratchet & Clank comes from both watching the film, and playing the game, as the projects don’t really present a fully realized story on their own. For a huge Ratchet & Clank fan such as myself, this was a really cool idea. But I can definitely see where more casual viewers will have a problem with this.
A Harmless Space Romp With Your Favorite Lombax
Overall, I really enjoyed the Ratchet & Clank film. It was a really fun space adventure that I’ll definitely watch again. However, I fully understand that I’m saying that as someone who is an avid fan of the series. I was familiar with the characters, the weapons, and the setting, so it’s only natural that I would enjoy them all in a movie. But even as a fan, I would honestly recommend Ratchet & Clank to anybody. The film is flawed, and there are definitely better animated features out there to watch, but I’ll still say that Ratchet & Clank is worth a viewing.
Though a sequel is doubtful when considering the film’s box office performance, I would love to see the production team get another chance at telling a Ratchet & Clank story. I really want to see what kind of adventure they can craft when their not so bogged down by having to be an origin story, as well as tie in to accompanying game.