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 the gamer crowd 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 Drek (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 equip his 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 egotistic 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 C-3PO. His other pals, including the gruff mechanic Grimroth (John Goodman), who took him in as a youngster, as well as sassy female warriors Cora (Bella Thorne) and Alaris (Rosario Dawson), are also character amalgamations from various sci-fi and “Star Wars”-esque stories.
The script is powered by rapid-fire jokes, but about 20 percent of them actually land.
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.