Lost in Space: Ratchet & Clank Lacks Substance

May 5, 2016


Movie adaptations of video games are usually awful. From subpar plots to uninspired acting, these films rarely garner anything other than harsh criticism (see Super Mario Bros. and Hitman for token examples). Ratchet & Clank, the latest attempt to make a movie out of a video game, has a few successes, but ultimately falls victim to the consistent failures of the genre.

The film follows Ratchet, a cat-like alien from a remote desert planet, and his dream of joining the heroic Galactic Rangers, led by Captain Qwark. Ratchet soon meets his tiny, robot sidekick Clank, a defect from the killbot factory of the evil Chairman Drek. The duo eventually travel to the galaxy’s capital, Aleero City, and work with the Rangers to stop Drek and his partner, Doctor Nefarious.

The “Ratchet & Clank” video game series is known for its beautiful animation, and the film adaptation is just as aesthetically pleasing. The numerous planets in the fictional Solana Galaxy are lively and colorful, and the character animation strikes a perfect balance between lifelike and cartoonish.

The voice acting in the movie is also fantastic. The voice actors from the video games reprise their roles and all bring great energy to their characters, with an especially emphatic performance from Jim Ward, who voices Captain Qwark. New characters, including Grim (voiced by John Goodman) and Victor (voiced by Sylvester Stallone), bring some vocal recognition to viewers who haven’t played the games.

Though the movie may look and sound great, its plot ultimately falls flat. The first third of the film feels dull and progresses too slowly. The introductions of Ratchet and Chairman Drek take far too long. As a result, the second and third acts are rushed, and many of the characters’ decisions and actions lack sufficient context for them to make sense. In particular, Captain Qwark makes a major decision halfway through the film that appears foolish and unreasonable, but with more buildup it could have been an effective plot device.

References to the video game series are a constant occurrence throughout the movie, from guns like the Buzz Blades and Alpha Disruptor to a cameo by The Plumber. If these terms don’t make sense now, they won’t during the movie either, as none of these references are developed enough to offer more than a brief chuckle to fans of the games. For example, a scene with Mr. Zurkons, violence obsessed robots from the video games, seems tacky and cliché without this prior knowledge.

With such a lackluster plot, Ratchet & Clank is only worth watching for fans of the video games looking for some nostalgia and a few laughs, and even then only barely. The captivating animation and voice acting can only hold a viewer’s attention for so long, and beyond them there is little for the average moviegoer to enjoy. Maybe video game movies will one day achieve critical acclaim, but if Ratchet & Clank is any indication, their bad reputation will only continue.

Jon Block
Jon was podcast editor, Halftime leisure editor, and Halftime sports editor for the Voice. You can follow him on Twitter @jon_block_ but not on Instagram because he doesn't have one.


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