I’m fresh from a night out with friends that started with seeing Ratchet and Clank on opening night. I saw it in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga (pop. 1,000,000), and was surprised to see a total of about 25 people in attendance, including our group of 7.
Our group was pretty diverse, including gamers, non-gamers, men, women, Ratchet and Clank fans, and people with no history with the franchise. Ratchet and Clank has never been a series that really interested me - it was one of those, “I don’t hate it, but it’s just not interesting to me,” sort of game series that I’m aware of, but not familiar with. So, in that regard, it was interesting to see it with a diverse group.
But me personally, I hated this movie.
The movie does have a few good jokes (including a laugh out loud moment involving a Wilhelm scream), but several times in this movie, and especially early on, the humour just fell completely flat. I counted several occasions where a joke worked, but then the joke went too far, in the sense that either the comedic timing was off, a joke effectively un-did itself (like, making a joke, then trying to force that joke in nonmedy territory), or the joke was just stretched out for waaaaaay too long. And it was really frustrating to watch in this regard. I saw a lot of potential for the humour in this, a lot of the failed jokes have the seed of something brilliant... But it was just executed poorly. I don’t know if this is because it’s for a younger audience, I’m admittedly not too learned on modern kids comedy movies, but I was really not impressed in this department.
And when it comes to drama, I mean... There really isn’t any. This movie doesn’t let itself have any gravitas, every scene that sets up to be serious or to have any kind of character moments is utterly destroyed by obnoxious, invasive humour that destroys any potential drama with cheap, cringey gags. It was really difficult to watch, it was just so poorly done! There’s a really great video by SuperBunnyhop on YouTube, I believe it’s called Laughing Through The Tears... He makes a great case for why good drama is absolutely essential to make a comedy work, and it’s a lesson that this movie would have done well to have learned.
Another thing I was quite disappointed with was the characters - everyone came off as a smartass, and I didn’t find anyone particularly likeable. Everybody basically has one, single character trait, and while this makes for easy to understand characters, I also had a lot of trouble sympathizing with the protagonist and the other characters.
Ratchet is built up to be some kind of kind-hearted savant, but his role in the movie portrays him as a bit of an asshole who makes extremely poor decisions and does not seem to have much regard for anything but his own selfish aims.
The Galactic Rangers or whatnot are all painfully one-dimensional - you have superhero parody, jock, unlikeable bitch and gamer girl stereotype. Even for a kids movie, I found this whole group painfully simplistic. Quark does have a character arc, but he ends the movie as the exact same character he started as.
Clank is probably the closest thing to a developed character here, but his screen time is extremely small and it almost feels like he had two different writers (sometimes he’s a logical machine with dry wit, othertimes he’s a goofball machine written like a Minion character).
The villains weren’t great, but I actually thought there was the seed of a good idea here. Dr. Nefarious is written well enough that you believe him as a geeky weirdo pushed off the edge - until he starts making Whedonesque wisecracks that seem completely out of character. The business tycoon boss guy almost works as a parody of the 1980s Wall Street cliche, but the writers don’t do anything clever with that trope. The big machine guy played by Sylvester Stallone works *amazing* as an angry, vengeful brute, but the plot doesn’t allow him to be a threat because of an absurd weakness that renders him utterly useless.
In terms of fan service, it does seem to succeed - the Ratchet and Clank fans among us cheered for certain weapons appearances and inside references. So, I think if you’re already a Ratchet fan, you will find something to like here. As an outsider though, I just didn’t get it - it actually reminds me of when my dad took my brother and I to Digimon: The Movie, only to remark afterwards that it was the worst movie he’d ever seen. To 10-year-old me, just seeing Omnimon was enough to satisfy. So your mileage will probably vary in this regard.
From a technical standpoint, this movie seems bizzarely unpolished - I counted 8 different occassions where the CGI lip sync didn’t match the spoken dialogue, and one occasion where Ratchet says something, but there’s no spoken audio to match. It was really, really strange to see. There was also a significant difference in quality between different character models, which I found really distracting - while Dr. Nefarious has extremely detailed facial features and a lot of animated moving parts, Captain Quark is extremely simplistic and cartoony. It was almost like they belonged to different movies, and I found it extremely distracting. The visual quality throughout seems peak and dip as well - some scenes are far more detailed and intricate than others. It reminded me a lot of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, where the playable characters all received new character models, but the NPCs did not.
In closing, I really can’t give this movie a firm recommendation. I think if you’re already a Ratchet and Clank fan, you will enjoy a lot of the references and in-universe humour. But if you’re a total outsider, I definitely suggest avoiding this one. It wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever seen, but I was frequently hoping the movie would just end. It was an uncomfortable experience, and a really disappointing showing. I think with better writers, this movie had the potential to be very good. But ultimately, it just comes off as a squandered effort that wastes an IP with potential to appeal to a wide audience. Several people in front of me were playing with their phones and tablets throughout the movie, and the attendance was absolutely pitiful for opening night. I think that’s absolutely indicative of the sort of experience you’re going to get - if you’re not a fan, steer clear of this one.