Saturday, April 30, 2016

Ratchet & Clank (Film) - The Movie, Based On The Game

Having played practically the entirety of the Ratchet & Clank series and become a fan of it, I was immediately on board with the idea of a theatrical feature when it was announced a few years back. I became more interested in the movie after learning that not only was Insomniac Games, the creator and developer of the Ratchet & Clank series heavily involved in the movie’s production, but also that Rainmaker Entertainment was doing the animation (under their previous moniker, Mainframe, they did the animation for the Beast Wars and Beast Machines portions of the Transformers franchise, which were considered groundbreaking for their time and the former of which won a Daytime Emmy). As the release date got closer, I even replayed the original Ratchet & Clank game and spent a lot of time playing the re-imagining of said game just to keep myself hyped for the movie. Having seen the movie in 3D, though somewhat disappointingly in a largely empty theater, I would say that the experience and hype were definitely worth it.

The plot of the movie is, of course, similar to that of the recent game based on this movie (including the plot twists aimed at Ratchet & Clank veterans), which is also based on the original 2002 game, but it flows more like a movie rather than the movie’s plot incorporated into gameplay. Plot elements from the original game are taken in an interesting direction in the movie, with some plot points cut where necessary to help the flow of the story. At the same time, it’s interesting how some gameplay elements from the games are used in the movie, such as the ability to switch between weapons on the fly (or Quick Select, as it’s called in the games) being explained by a device that allows the user to teleport weapons to their hand from an off-site storage locker. Like the re-imagined game, some retcons are made that I think make for a better story, such as the integration of Dr. Nefarious (Armin Shimerman) into the plot and Ratchet (James Arnold Taylor) being a selfless nice guy from the get-go rather than starting off as being a huge, selfish jerk to everyone around him. There are also some cleverly-inserted in-jokes from within the series and to other PlayStation titles, including a tease for the upcoming Sly Cooper movie.

In this continuity, Ratchet wants to join the Galactic Rangers.

The movie is well-casted in the voice department, with James Arnold Taylor (Ratchet), David Kaye (Clank), Jim Ward (Captain Qwark), and Armin Shimerman (Dr. Nefarious) returning to voice their characters from the games, as well as some actors you wouldn’t have expected to hear in Ratchet & Clank, such as Paul Giamatti (Chairman Drek), John Goodman (Grimroth), and Sylvester Stallone (Victor Von Ion); notably, Stallone’s widely-mocked slurred Rambo voice is not present, rather sounding more like his normal speaking voice. As I’ve said about the recent game, the voice actors are definitely bringing their experience with their characters to the table, and Giamatti and Stallone (for reals this time) provide interesting interpretations of the returning characters that they voice. Though new character Grimroth doesn’t get very much screentime, I still thought John Goodman did a good job in voicing the character, particularly in portraying the character’s master/student relationship with Ratchet.

Ratchet & Clank during their first meeting.

The animation is, put simply, amazing, as there was clearly a lot of care put into animating the characters and their body language, as well as Ratchet’s Lombax tail. The animation of the weapons and their abilities is also great at recreating how they function and making them work within the context of the movie. Though the Groovitron, one of my favorite weapons from the games, does not make an appearance, I think the movie worked well enough without it. Also, the music, while not remixing anything from the base game, is still great at capturing the essence of a given scene and character’s emotions (though I can’t recall if any of it is from the re-imagined game).

The Ratchet & Clank movie can be considered a good way to get someone into the Ratchet & Clank franchise, though it is clearly more aimed at Ratchet & Clank fans. There is some fantastic humor in the movie, both meta and not meta, as well as some bits of older-skewing humor that some audiences that fit within the PG rating would probably not get. While it’s funny how text-messaging jokes are incorporated, there is mention of “hashtags” at one point, though the reference is still funny within context since it’s very brief and is more non-specific. Overall, the movie is a well-made love letter to the 15 years of the Ratchet & Clank series and its fans, for whom this is definitely a must-see, and I advise staying through the credits. Since this joint-development between Insomniac and Rainmaker turned out spectacularly, this makes me more excited to see if the same result can be achieved with Sly Cooper when it makes its way to theaters.

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