The feature film version of the popular video game ‘Ratchet & Clank” will answer the question of whether timing or nostalgia has a bigger draw. Video game players were introduced to the characters through the PlayStation 2 way back in 2002. That means a lot of players will have warm and fuzzy feelings about the big-screen adaptation, while others may feel the the buzz is gone after 14 years.
Both the film and video game feature Ratchet, an anthropomorphic hero who looks to be the love child of a fox, lynx and Care Bear, and his explanatory sidekick robot, Clank. The big-screen adaptation goes back to the original game mission with the space buddies having to save the world from the evil Chairman Drek (Paul Giamatti).
The storyline alone will give video game fans a flashback to all those hours in front of the screen guiding the pair through all the action. What makes the new release different is that those who had been so actively involved in the quest now become passive observers.
Adding to the nostalgic feeling is the casting of James Arnold Taylor as the voice of Ratchet and David Kaye as Clank in the movie. Using a celebrity to do the voice of either would have made the character sound just slightly off track. Taylor brings the same energy he has used in the game over all the years.
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Directors Kevin Munroe and Jericca Cleland played it smart in their efforts to appease the diehard fans by keeping the central casting so familiar. Although Taylor and Kaye are extremely talented, they are not the biggest names when trying to promote a movie. The co-directors were able to pump up the star power by casting Giamatti, John Goodman, Rosario Dawson, Sylvester Stallone and Bella Thorne as voices for other characters.
This kind of casting has to be for promotional reasons because Kevin Michael Richardson, who did the voice of Drek in the original game, is still around and has a far stronger voice than Giamatti.
The last thing the filmmakers did to keep “Ratchet & Clank” fans happy is use the same bright imagery and sharp details used in the games. A lot of current animation uses a darker design and look. Each scene in “Ratchet & Clank” explodes off the screen.
All of this should make game fans happy with the big-screen adaptation.
But those who don’t know the game will have to get past some big problems.
Among the biggest is the timing. It’s been 14 years since the video game launched. It would have been smarter to have made this film at least 10 years ago. All of the passing years means the film now gets compared to hundreds of films and TV shows.
The most obvious parallel is to “Guardians of the Galaxy.” The fast-talking Ratchet comes across like a distant cousin to the space-traveling raccoon, Rocket, from “Galaxy. The battle sequences comes across a lot like an episode of “Star Wars Rebels.”
“Ratchet & Clank” hasn’t popped up on too many lists of best video games of the year in recent history. The film might rekindle interest in the game, but it should have been the other way.
Its bright design also goes against the general norm for film animation and looks more like the vivid colors that are so prominent in television productions. The colorful style and silly characters give the movie a kiddie-show look.
“Ratchet & Clank” is an energetic, animated and colorful trip down memory lane aimed at the blurry-eyed fans who have carpal tunnel syndrome from all those hours playing the game. Those not that familiar will find the film a little too familiar and designed more like a production for Nicktoons than the big screen.