The Film: Ratchet and Clank (2016)
What We Know So Far: Based on the successful platforming video game series developed by Insomniac Games and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the Playstation games consoles, the film follows the adventures of a cat-like creature called a Lombax, who excels at mechanical things, and his pint-sized robot sidekick who become unlikely heroes in the battle for the galaxy. The animated film is meant to follow the plot of the original 2002 game with some updates found in the coming new game release, where Ratchet and Clank come under the service of Captain Qwark and the Galactic Rangers.
The Trailer: (Official #1)
David: This is a peculiar choice for a film as the game is really niche, and though it certainly is a popular series with thirteen (and more coming) generally well-received games, the audience would seem limited. The series had been conceived as a live-action film back in 2005 with Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead) to direct, but things fell apart and as, as it should, become an animation project that captures the look and feel of the games. Having played a few of the games in the series, I can say that the big draw in the experience is the humor and fluid gameplay, of which only one can be reproduced as a film. Watching the trailer, it looks like they are handling that comedy rather well, with the dry wit and sly banter. Most of the original voice cast is returning from the game series and there are some new characters as well. I really like the visuals and it has a great “game” feel to it if you are familiar with the games as the environments are dead on accurate. But there’s something off about the clip as well. It feels misdirected and shallow, offering nothing inviting or fresh. The trailer voice-over guy is a little funny as it plays with trailer voice-over tropes, but even that is not original. And while I suppose following the plot of the first game makes sense (ugh, another origin story), as a two-minute trailer, it feels so old with unlikely heroes saving the galaxy. The core of the game was creative platforming and over-the-top weapons and gadgets such as the The Lava Gun that shoots, well, lava, and the Qwack-O-Ray, which turned enemies into flaming ducks. Apart from a quick shot of the Sheep-O-Nator, there doesn’t seem to be much beside the look of the games going for it. Still, it has potential and could be promising.
Dan Says: My fellow movie nerd cohort in crime, David, mentions those unskippable cutscenes in video games during his Sneak Peek Moment below. These are like mini-movies in between levels. You know, the ones you sometimes couldn’t care less about. All they are is something that stops you from playing. Well, that is what this movie is: an unskippable 90 minute cutscene that just makes you want to play the game instead. I have played the first game and enjoyed the goofy destruction, as well as the mega-weird gadgets. Weapons do not seem to be the focus of this family fun adventure. Understandably. Since I am not the biggest fan of CG animated movies, this trailer was as appealing as Jem. It also would have been nice if the characters had as many jokes as the movie trailer announcer guy – which definitely wears thin as the sneak preview continues to go on, and on, and…
What to Look for in the Trailer
David Says: The trailer is going for laughs, as it should, and spends a lot of time on introducing characters and revealing the unique worlds Ratchet will be exploring. There are setups and payoffs throughout that mostly work, even if we’re mostly just looking at the great visuals. Well, great if you know the games and get hit with a little nostalgia. The voice-over guy is prattling on about whatever, as it’s just fun nonsense anyway. And then it all stops and the Sneak Peek Moment comes as we cut to a futuristic meeting room where the Galactic Rangers are seated. Brax, the newest member and making his first appearance in the franchise with this film and the upcoming game tie-in, belts out, “Does anyone else feel like we should have shot something by now?” Not sure why, but it makes me laugh every time and really sets a great tone for the remainder of the clip. And it perfectly sums up what every gamer of that genre is thinking during cutscenes and unskippable moments.
Dan Says: The story seems to blend the best from science fiction and superhero movies. We have the underdog hero out to save the galaxy. Sounds simple enough. Depending on the execution, there is a chance to make something good out of this familiar premise. There was a funny Star Wars homage with a villain destroyed a planet. My Sneak Peek Moment is the vocal command for the attack, “Commence de-planetization.” This was a humourous spin on the cliche. While I am not the target audience for this film, I have my fingers crossed that a video game turned movie performs well at the box office. I want to see more for stories from games hit the big screen. There are some really captivating adult-themed concepts ripe for Hollywood to adapt. Unfortunately, Ratchet & Clank is probably a decade too late to make big waves.
T.J. Fixman (as Todd Fixman)