Beginning as one of the most beloved franchises on the PS2, Ratchet & Clank have graced over 10 galactic adventures of heroism, explosions, and innuendo. Maintaining a balance of accessibility to younger audiences with intelligent writing and jokes that might go over your head on your first play through, Insomniac Games have given gaming some of its most iconic characters, and given PlayStation consoles defining experiences for over 10 years.
Inevitable it seemed, then, that the unlikely duo of the last Lombax and an orphan robot would take the leap between the cracks of media and enter the orifice we call film. Working with Sony Pictures, Insomniac worked seemingly at their own pace, taking time to craft an animated experience that lovingly retells the origin of the titular two main characters and their exploits, breathing life into the universe on a level of detail we’ve never seen before.
Among the host of concerns a gaming fan might have when learning a favourite series is getting a movie adaptation is casting choices, and Insomniac knocked that one out of the Qwark (ugh) by keeping James Arnold Taylor and David Kaye as Ratchet and Clank, respectively, while backing them with a surprisingly star-studded cast (Bella Thorne, Sylvester Stallone, Rosario Dawson, John Goodman, Paul Giamatti) as all-new characters written for the film.
The story we get is something of a reboot of the original game and lore we’ve come to known, but expanded. Captain Quark is the superhero in the public eye we’ve always heard about, and Ratchet is some goofy kid with big ears and a wrench that just wants to meet his hero. It’s a story we’ve surely seen before, but the charming performances and vivid visual language make it an interpretation that’s still plenty of fun to experience.
Crude humour has always been a lynchpin of the series, and as a longtime fan of the games, I was mildly disappointed with the more kid-oriented tone this movie adopts, but the delivery of the jokes reminds me of some of my favourite moments in more recent Disney films, where the kids are clearly the target, but more mature audience members are still going to spend a good chunk of the time laughing anyway. Some of the jokes fall flat, but the fun tone of the movie keeps things moving along even when the humour isn’t at its strongest.
This film is absolutely loaded with fan service, too. From hidden references and easter eggs to the gratuitous use of weapons we’ve been blowing things up with for years, fans of the series will be thrilled to see hours of memories brought to life on the big screen. Even one of the more unorthodox re-treatments of a classic villain comes full circle in a way that was surprising and satisfying to watch.
Video game movies are a tough sell, even to the dedicated fan bases of the IP, but Sony and Insomniac’s Ratchet & Clank manages to bring us the best of the characters we love while also making it feel like we could be witnessing a rebirth for the series - a chance to get new viewers and players invested in the universe, while giving people with fond memories in the Solana galaxy another reason to pick up a controller and play through the classics again, or play the surprisingly fantastic PS4 reboot Ratchet & Clank game.A must-see for fans and new eyes alike.