Ratchet & Clank Parent Review
Although not very interesting unless you have played the game, the animation does demonstrate how complimentary personalities can create productive friendships.
Ratchet & Clank is a Sony video game franchise which roots back to the early days of the PlayStation 2. This movie version pulls elements from many of those previous games and mirrors the 2016 “reboot” release of Ratchet & Clank for the PlayStation 4. (The marketing of this latest product celebrates the incestuous movie-game relationship, telling fans to, “Play the game, based on the movie, based on the game!”) And while I haven’t had experienced this latest franchise offering, I have had confirmed that most of what you will see in this movie appear as “cut-scenes” in the latest interactive adventure.
The film’s storyline offers the origin story of the dual protagonists. Ratchet (voice of James Arnold Taylor) is a feline-looking fictitious creature called a Lombax who lives on the desert planet Veldin. His job as a mechanic at a local garage plays a secondary role to his big dream of joining the Galactic Rangers. This revered group of fighters is led by Captain Qwark (voice of Jim Ward) and has the mission of protecting the Solana Galaxy from harm. However, his attempts at enlisting are met with rejection due to his relatively small size.
One fateful day Ratchet sees a spaceship crash into the surrounding desert. Running to investigate he finds a small robot creature inside. Clank (voice of David Kaye), as we will come to know him, is also dealing with rejection. He’s a defective “warbot”, part of a mechanical military created by the evil Chairman Drek (voice of Paul Giamatti), leader of the Blarg, a race that saw their planet ruined from over industrialization. Clank’s defect label is due to his self-aware realization that his creator intends to use the robots to attack surrounding planets and use pieces from each globe to create a perfect (in the eyes of Drek) world. It turns out Veldin is his next target and Clank begs Ratchet to warn the Galactic Rangers of the plan.
From here we follow these two strange personalities through typical video game conflicts. Spaceships are flown trough swarms of laser blasts and protective shields are sabotaged, culmination in the big “Boss” battle. Through all of this we have stilted dialogue with jokes that reaffirmed that I was the loner in the crowd—many others were laughing at what must be gags pulled from the duos other joystick adventures.
My experience verifies that if you’ve never heard of Ratchet & Clank you’d best move on because there’s nothing to see here. Only those who have fond memories of working their PlayStation 2 controllers way back in ‘02 when the original video game released, or have enjoyed Going Commando and shooting Up Your Arsenal will be willing to sit through, and even enjoy, this animation. And that means your kids may be very pleased with this animation, which is surprisingly devoid of content issues—rare for a film that targets young males. Frequent video game style violence will be the biggest concern, yet within this realm much of the aggression involves weapons that restrain or stun opponents. (My now older son confirmed the original game did include a weapon that would turn its victim into a sheep—as it does in the movie.) Otherwise, there is no sexual depictions or profanity.
Our heroes are also positive role models. Ratchet’s life hasn’t been easy, but his persistence and desire to do good gets him a chance to explore his dream. These traits are supported by his immediate reaction to save Clank from a burning wreck. Clank’s example is worthy as well. When planning an attack, Clank wants to research the enemy’s ship and strategically plot their offensive while others in his group—including Ratchet—want simply to go into the conflict with guns blazing. In this regard, our heroes demonstrate how complimentary personalities can create productive friendships.
Another way Ratchet & Clank is unique is in our recommendation: the title is likely okay for for ‘tweens and teens, however it may be unsuitable for most adults—unless parents are willing to spend a little gaming time with their kids.Directed by Jericca Cleland, Kevin Munroe. Starring James Arnold Taylor, David Kaye, Paul Giamatti. Running time: 94 minutes. Theatrical release April 29, 2016. Updated August 23, 2016
Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Ratchet & Clank here.
Ratchet & Clank Parents Guide
Talk about the movie with your family…
Grimroth (voiced by John Goodman) is the owner of the garage where Ratchet works. When Ratchet is discouraged about being rejected by the Galactic Rangers he tells him, “You don’t have to do big things to be a hero. Just the right things.” What are some things people have done for you that were “the right things”? What “right things” can you do for others?
What do Ratchet and Clank have in common? How are they different? What can we learn from them in this era of social networking when it’s often tempting to select friends who are very similar to ourselves? How can we benefit from associating with other people who have different perspectives on life?