Ratchet & Clank Review

After studying him so thoroughly and with awe during his time as the eponymous second president, John Adams, it is surprising, somewhat, to see Paul Giamatti crop up here in Ratchet & Clank. How bold he must feel believing in this project. We cannot blame him alone though, for he is the best part of this Kevin Munroe and Jericca Cleland-directed piece. He is the best part of many projects, but it is a shame that he is so prevalent here, for Ratchet & Clank is a dire scenario that pits its protagonists against enemies and evils that feel fundamentally broken, fitting into the humour, which is put before the narrative.  

Its humour is cheap and tactless, but there are those brief moments where the comedy they aim for is at least identifiable. Ratchet & Clank was never going to work with its self-referential humour and put-down attempts, but stacking the cast with John Goodman and Sylvester Stallone certainly gives it the dexterity and star power to at least attempt it. Munroe and Cleland try but to no avail. Many of the issues are that we are laughing at the film, not with it. Gags and scenarios that are so frequently based on removing us from the narrative and making fun of one-scene characters or the villains, who lose their charm rather quickly. Unfortunately, it is the characters that interact with our titular heroes that are of more interest than the heroes themselves. James Arnold Taylor and David Kaye may bring life to these respective heroes, but they do not feel alive. They move and talk and surround themselves with adventure, but are thoroughly removed from it. 

Creepy, unconvincing jokes aside, though, Ratchet & Clank has little to offer. Its characters are so fundamentally bland and ineffective, both trying to set up a new universe and also depend on old, nostalgia-clad characters. It is an impossible blend, and Munroe and Cleland are clearly not up to the task of taking on the world that could be. Who could, though? Ratchet & Clank as an entity exists to be accessed by fans through button prompts and exploration at their own pace. Cramming that into a narrative misses the point of the series, but also detracts from the experience fans will wish to have. For that, we can only feel sorrow for them. But having no attachment to the series certainly helps. Even then, it lingers on the mind in a similar fashion to Sonic Boom or that ill-fated Donkey Kong animated series. They are here for our mockery, not our love.  

Harmless. But that is the inherent issue to Munroe and Cleland’s piece. Plenty of jokes in the opening about telephones, and nothing within that seems to entice fans of the series into viewing this feature. For those that have never played the games, they will be out of their depth, but so will those that have a fondness and nostalgia for the series. We are all deep in the troubled water, and while the animation is of acceptable quality, the story and vocal performances are not. Its bleak stance on what humour should mean that Ratchet & Clank relies on the pop-up charisma boosts Goodman, Giamatti and Sylvester Stallone provide, but not even they can handle the horrors of another dreadful video game adaptation.  

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