No Sony support for ‘Ratchet & Clank’ movie
By Adam Tatelman, Arts Editor
A sea of ever-multiplying questions surrounds the shivering, microscopic nucleus that is the Ratchet & Clank movie. Can video game adaptations succeed as films? Will this one? Could it pave the way for more? Why has IP owner Sony kept mum on the whole thing? Or, most commonly, “how come I never saw any ads for this?” It’s a sad tale of squandered potential and corporate finagling, and all signs point to this movie being doomed from the start.
R&C is one of the longest-running franchises in the PlayStation games library, boasting over a dozen (mostly good) entries, including the current movie tie-in. By the twin virtues of its celebrity culture satire and comically impractical space weaponry, the series has built a dedicated fan-base over the last 14 years. No production company could ask for a better setup to make a quick cash-in film franchise.
For reasons unknown, Sony Pictures passed production of the film to Gramercy Studios, relinquishing any advertisement responsibility. What followed was a 730-day span of precisely jack and shit, followed by a couple YouTube trailers even less awe-inspiring than the film’s $20-million budget.
After this brutal shafting by Sony in favor of the paste-swillingly uninspired Melissa McCarthy vehicle formerly known as Ghostbusters, the newly released R&C must now compete against Sony’s Angry Birds and Marvel’s highly anticipated Civil War—a horrendously ill-advised choice of release date that will likely evoke a box office slaughter rivaling Alvin and the Chipmunks’ shared opening weekend with The Force Awakens.
The heartbreaking truth underlying this debacle is that Vancouver-based entertainment studio Rainmaker Entertainment’s long-awaited shot at the big time could be forever dashed if R&C flops. And it almost certainly will, forever dooming them to slave away in a swirling singularity of direct-to-DVD CGI Barbie films from which no entertainment can escape.
At every turn, the film makes the best of a bad situation. An uneven script plagued with unfunny texting jokes is ironed out by brilliant delivery from the cast. The hackneyed plotting is kept afloat by a spirited pace. The gag train keeps on chugging, fueled by Seinfeldian snits and made-to-order spoofs of iconic sci-fi franchise moments, like Spock’s memorial in The Wrath of Kahn, or A New Hope’s entire plot.
Although the action is lackluster, the vocal performances behind wannabe hero Ratchet (James Taylor), robot buddy Clank (David Kaye), and media hound Captain Quark (Jim Ward) capture everything that made these characters entertaining in the games. Despite their venerable attachment to the license, these voice actors could easily have been dumped for big-name screen talent. Their inclusion is a smile and wink from Gramercy and Rainmaker to the fans, indicating that, yes, they care about the source material.
Despite everything, beloved actors like Paul Giamatti, Rosario Dawson, and John Goodman lent their voices to the film. Giamatti in particular delivers one of the silliest, most irreverent bad guy performances of his career. The cast had a blast, and it shows—their word-of-mouth promotion comprises most of the film’s ad campaign. All signs indicate that everyone involved with this project was passionate about it except the people who have the power to decide what will and will not be a hit.
Here’s the bottom line. The only people who will see this movie are already fans of Ratchet & Clank. It didn’t have to be this way. If Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is any indication, there’s still plenty of mileage to be had from the goofy Hero’s Journey space-fantasy. Even if R&C has been blasted with reviews that all but scream “we were not adequately compensated by Sony Pictures,” you can still vote with your dollar. Show your support to Rainmaker and help make R&C be the hit it wants to be.