There’s something oddly familiar about Ratchet and Clank.
Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, a young, almost supernaturally-talented mechanic-come-space pilot spends his days on a bleak desert planet, dreaming of a life more interesting. Cue the bad guys, with a planet killing weapon and a cute robot who escapes with the knowledge of how to thwart their evil plans. Throw in a pod race, some Cylons and Buzz Lightyear and you’re good to go.
Every scene, every character, and every snippet of dialogue in Ratchet and Clank seems to have been borrowed from somewhere else – but that isn’t really the problem. The occasional homage can be good for the geek-soul.
What makes this film almost unwatchable in places is that it can’t decide what it wants to be. One moment we’re in the frenetic, migraine-inducting mania of pre-school TV. The other we’re desperately wondering if anything is ever going to happen and if it does, will it happen before the pubs close?
To be fair, Ratchet and Clank has many magical moments. It’s possibly the most faithful platform-to-big-screen adaptation to date. Scenes play out like the best bits from the old Playstation game, with chase sequences and shoot outs that will have you unconsciously reaching for your PS1 controller. The characters of Ratchet and Clank are undeniably appealing and you can expect the little ones to be requesting Clank toys come Christmas. It’s glossy, professional, and slick. Sylvester Stallone as Victor Von Ion, Chairman Drek’s villainous robotic lieutenant, is a comedic joy. It’s possibly his best move – ever – and if he doesn’t do more comedy after this we’ll all want to know why.
But like so many films designed by committee, Ratchet and Clank tries too hard to please too many people. The bright, breezy visuals pitch it as toddler fodder. The soundtrack and plot give it more teen appeal. The jokes and gaming references are clearly aimed at an audience who grew up with the game and are now in their 30s. The result is a beautifully crafted mess of a film which irritates and entertains in equal measure.
A sequel is flagged up big-time so there’s still time to get this right. Here’s hoping.