Based on the popular video game franchise, Ratchet & Clank follows two unlikely heroes as they struggle to stop a vile alien from destroying every planet in the Solana Galaxy. Ratchet is the last of his kind, a foolhardy "Lombax" who has grown up alone on a backwater planet with no family of his own. Clank is a pint-sized robot with more brains than brawn. When the two stumble upon a dangerous weapon capable of destroying entire planets they must join forces with a team of colorful heroes called the Galactic Rangers in order to save the galaxy. Along the way, they will learn about heroism, friendship, and the importance of discovering one's own identity in this thrilling and funny adventure featuring the voices of Paul Giamatti, John Goodman, Rosario Dawson and Sylvester Stallone.
Along with being an avid movie watcher, I am also a loyal video game player. I am not the biggest fan of child friendly platformers like ‘Rayman’ or even ‘Super Mario’, but for some reason the ‘Ratchet & Clank’ games have broken through that bias and the latest iteration has become my jam. That recent iteration is a direct remake of the original game, and in an extremely odd choice, this movie is a direct remake of the same story. This leaves me to beg the question, where do you draw the line between source material and a blatant cash in? And if you like the source material it is based on, does that mean you retroactively like the cash in itself?
Rather than creating a whole new look for this CG animated feature film, they not only have adapted the same exact story as the ‘Ratchet & Clank’ game remake, but they have literally stolen the exact cut scenes from the game and inserted them with upgraded CG animation. Just like in the game, the movie begins by introducing Ratchet (James Arnold Taylor), a mechanic on the planet Veldin. Ratchet might just be a small time ship mechanic, but he has bigger aspirations. He wants to be a protector of the galaxy and become a Galactic Ranger, just like the laughably vain Captain Quark (Jim Ward), who everybody, including Ratchet, seems to be crushing on. Little does Ratchet know; he will have his chance to achieve his dream. He meets a robot, who he names Clank (David Kaye), that has information about the evil villain Chairman Drek’s (Paul Giamatti) plans. As a result, Ratchet and Clank form an instant and lovable bond and are both invited to join Captain Quark and the Galactic Rangers. Before watching this animated feature, I had already loved the characterizations of Ratchet and Clank, and that love carries over to here. They are lovable characters that complement each other perfectly, with Ratchet being the brawn (though Ratchet isn't unintelligent), and Clank as the brain. But as this is their first foray onto the big screen, you would expect for these two beloved characters to be expanded upon. Instead, what we get doesn't detract from Ratchet and Clank, but it doesn't add anything either. What we are given here is a slavish recreation of the characters in the games, and that becomes a recurring problem with this animated feature.
On planet Tenemule, our main villain, Chairman Drek, his right hand robot, Victor Von Ion (Sylvester Stallone), and a mad scientist, Dr. Nefarious (Armin Shimerman), have found themselves in control of a planet annihilating machine. Now, Ratchet and Clank, along with the seemingly incompetent, but wonderfully machismo Captain Quark, set out to stop their evil scheme and save the Galaxy. Like the game, the voice acting is great, even down to its secondary characters like Captain Quark, the trigger happy team of Brax Lectrus (Vincent Tong) and Cora Veralux (Bella Thorne), and my personal fave, Elaris (Rosario Dawson), who all make up the Galactic Ranger Team. Elaris is a support unit personnel, which means she stays out of the line of fire and runs the communications, but she is also the brains of the organization and relates with Clank in that way.
As you can tell, the biggest problem here is they brought absolutely nothing new to the table with this first theatrical outing. Scenes are literally beat by beat taken from the coinciding game that came out two weeks before this hit theater this past April. All the characters are great, and the animation is great, but that was all done and established for them ahead of time. So I am left questioning, why do this if you don't have anything new to say at all? It's because they wanted this to be a cash in, and kids would see this and get their parents to buy the game for them. There isn't even a closing message. Ratchet & Clank don't learn anything that they don't learn in the game itself. It is literally a beat for beat translation, and one I cannot stand by. For as much affection as I have for these characters and this story, it is better left as an interactive experience with a video game.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Sony blasts ‘Ratchet & Clank’ onto Blu-Ray with a Slip cover case with some pretty generic 3D artwork, that once you slip off reveals the hard cover case. Once opened the BD-50 Blu-ray disc is to your right, and to the left is the typical Ultraviolet HD download insert, and underneath that you will find a DVD copy. Once you pop in your Blu-ray disc you will be meet with a series of trailers for kids shows that made me feel way too old. Then eventually you are brought to yet another lazy still image main menu screen, where you can navigate your way around the movie.
‘Ratchet & Clank’ sets its phasors to be stunning on Blu-ray, with a 1080P MPEG-4 AVC encode that blasts its way to the top. Framed at a 2.39:1 aspect ratio, I wouldn’t say this is a ‘Pixar’/’Disney’ level, but it is on a ‘DreamWorks’ animation level, and they are no slouch either. From the fur on Ratchet, to the texture on Captain Quark’s suit, to the ripples and warts on Chairman Drek, detail work is a highlight here, and in its own way stands up with the best detail work out there.
There is a lot of mythology, and world building in the ‘Ratchet & Clank’ franchise, and it is all present here, with multiple planets for our friends to go on adventures to which all look distinct. From the bluish greens of the planet Pokitaru, to the Brown and purple planet of Veldin, to the whitish green and blue planet of Nebula, all planets are lush with color and life, and makes you feel like these lovable character have a whole galaxy to save and explore.
The only thing that separates this from the top of the pack as far as animation goes is dimensionality. The cream of the crop in animation (‘Big Hero Six’, ‘Inside Out’) has transfers that have depth and three-dimensionality to them. This transfer is a little lacking in that department, and it is noticeable at times. But that is a small gripe in what otherwise is a transfer with bright and vibrant colors that vary between each planet and make this transfer like candy for kids and parents alike.
Sony goes warp speed onto Blu-ray with a DTS-MA HD 5.1 track that soars above the rest. This is the most busy and active surround track I have ever heard. There are constantly ships, lasers, and hovercrafts whizzing from front to back, and left to right, making action scenes immensely enjoyable.
There is not a single minute that you aren’t getting a pleasant audio surprise from all areas. Even is the calmer moments, the score of the film isn’t just relegated to the fronts. It is spread out to the full 360 field of sound and feels extremely expansive. The LFE track also adds an extra oomph to what is already a feast for your ears. When Ratchet’s ship goes into Hyper speed, it’s like you are going in to hyper speed as well, because your walls are shaking. It brings a warm and fuzzy feeling to this techie’s heart when the light on your sub is constantly in the on position and never goes into sleep mode.
This is what a reference quality audio track is all about here. Dynamics are absolutely incredible, and this might be a contender for one of the most active tracks on the market. Bass and vocals are enormously robust. Fronts are always alternating from left to right. This track is a feast for your ears, and anyone would be proud to have this track in their collection.
Ratchet & Clank: A Hero’s Journey (7:32 HD) – Did you want the filmmakers to justify the lack of message and/or character development? Well here’s all eight minutes of it.
Ratchet & Clank: Leveling up (4:21 HD) – Want them to justify the lack of changes from the animated feature to the game, while actually seamlessly plugging the game? That is exactly what happens here. The short runtime proves my case about this movie. They can only talk about changes for about two minutes, while plugging the game for the rest.
There is a sense of either carelessness or just lack of confidence in this movie that truly bothered me. If they wanted this movie to appeal to children (and their parents’ pockets), then they should have expanded on these characters from their other iterations and made them more relatable. This movie made a meager $8 million domestic gross for its entire run, due to the fact that it was dumped into theaters a week before ‘Captain America: Civil War,’ and that is incredibly bad. It shows the lack of confidence the studio had in this film. But this isn’t all bad, the characterizations and humor I love about the games are still here and I enjoyed Chairman Drek’s plot in the film, even if it is taken straight from the game. I still enjoyed myself, but I just wish the powers that be had more confidence in this property and expanded upon it the way they did with the gorgeous visuals and sound design. Buy the game because it is excellent, but the Blu-ray is really for fans only.