Sci-fi video game makes a clunker of a kids movie

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - Showtime - South Broward - - MOVIES - By Katie Walsh

Based on a pop­u­lar Plays­ta­tion game, the sci-fi an­i­mated fea­ture “Ratchet & Clank” seeks to cap­ture the kid-friendly au­di­ence this weekend, as well as gamers who have a fa­mil­iar­ity with the space-based game char­ac­ters. The film is a ba­sic hero story about Ratchet (James Arnold Tay­lor, also the voice in the video game), a young lom­bax (a cat­like crea­ture) who dreams of join­ing the Galac­tic Rangers, only to find that the hero busi­ness is much more com­pli­cated than it seems.

Ratchet gets his op­por­tu­nity to sign up when the plan­ets of their galaxy are threat­ened with “de­plan­e­ti­za­tion” by the evil over­load Dreck (Paul Gia­matti), a slug­like crea­ture with a sweet pony­tail mul­let who rides around on a Seg­way. He’s teamed up with Dr. Ne­far­i­ous (Ar­min Shimerman), an alien mad sci­en­tist, to on a gi­ant planet-blast­ing gun, and the two plot for world dom­i­na­tion.

The only thing stand­ing in their way are the Galac­tic Rangers, a crew of fame-ob­sessed, vi­o­lent and ego­tis­ti­cal space he­roes.

The sto­ry­line is es­sen­tially ripped from “Star Wars”: A feisty young loner from a far­away planet dreams of join­ing an elite group of war­riors to save the uni­verse from dark and evil forces. His helper, Clank (David Kaye, also from the video game), a log­i­cal Bri­tish ro­bot, is es­sen­tially a shrunken C3PO.

His other pals, in­clud­ing the gruff me­chanic Grim­roth (John Good­man), who took him in as a young­ster, as well as the sassy fe­male war­riors Cora (Bella Thorne) and Alaris (Rosario Daw­son), are also MPAA rat­ing: PG (for ac­tion and some rude hu­mor) Run­ning time: 1:34 Opens: Fri­day char­ac­ter amal­ga­ma­tions from var­i­ous sci-fi and “Star Wars”-es­que stories.

There’s noth­ing wrong with this kind of genre fa­mil­iar­ity, es­pe­cially as the film is quite chaotic, and the for­mula will help keep you on track. There are no tran­si­tions be­tween scenes, so you feel yanked around from mo­ment to mo­ment. Noth­ing about the Rangers’ plans to de­feat the evil Drek and Dr. Ne­far­i­ous are fully ex­plained, so the for­mula recog­ni­tion helps. It’s just good guys ver­sus bad guys.

The script is pow­ered by rapid-fire jokes, in­clud­ing a heavy dose of mun­dane of­fice-based work­place hu­mor. The jokes fly fast and furious, and about 20 per­cent of them ac­tu­ally land, though there are a few chuck­les to be found. Much of the hu­mor re­lies more on a sort of hy­per­sar­cas­tic Dis­ney Chan­nel­style line de­liv­ery, espe- cially when Ranger Cora con­tin­u­ally sighs about want­ing to shoot some­one, now, please?

The film is ob­sessed with fire­power, as the Ranger suits al­low them to ma­te­ri­al­ize dif­fer­ent weapons into their hands at will. Com­ing from a video game per­spec­tive, it makes sense; a user can cy­cle through cus­tom­iz­a­ble choices. But from a sto­ry­telling per­spec­tive, the ob­ses­sion with guns in a movie aimed at chil­dren is trou­bling, in poor taste and is lazy writ­ing to boot. Ratchet is much more in­ter­est­ing when he’s us­ing his prac­ti­cal knowhow and Clank’s smarts to out­wit the bad guys.

“Ratchet & Clank” feels like watch­ing four episodes of a Satur­day morn­ing cartoon mashed to­gether into a fea­ture­length film.

The ba­sic dra­matic score un­der­lines this sense, as well as the flat char­ac­ter de­sign, overly busy edit­ing and run-ofthe-mill story. No need to rush the fam­ily to the the­ater this weekend; you can wait for this one to hit the small screen.

GRAMERCY PIC­TURES

David Kaye voices the ro­bot Clank, left, and James Arnold Tay­lor is the voice of Ratchet in “Ratchet & Clank.”

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