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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Off My Chest: The Ratchet and Clank Movie, why I'm optomistic.

Yesterday I awoke to the startling news that there was

 A. A feature length film based on Ratchet and Clank was in the works, but more importantly...
 B. It was actually getting a theatrical release
The prospect was to me, a no brainier. Insomniac Game's animation has always been nothing short of feature quality. In fact, after finishing “Crack in Time” a few years back I was half convinced I’d already seen the R&C movie. The cut scenes were just barely below Pixar standards. So I’d like to get into why this property has the chance to be a real charmer as well as a movie that breaks video the game to film transfer curse, so lets get to it.

  1. The Central Cast is on Board

Whether it's due to budget constraints or not, the cast of R&C wasn't broke and Rainmaker Entertainment isn't going to “fix” it with disinterested celebrity talent. As seen in the delightful teaser Clank sounds like David Kaye, Quark sounds like Jim Ward, and Ratchet sounds like James Arnold Taylor. Which is great because Taylor was the best damn thing that ever happened to the series and he remains an underrated actor in general. He's just one of those guys that can make any line sound funny, tense, or dramatic, whenever the script needs that little extra push. The stupidest thing the studio could have done was to recast him, so BRAVO.

   2. The Writing has Always been Solid

I was reminded the other night after catching “Paranorman” on Netflix of just how big a pass animated films get on scripting. Now I thought the film had its moments and the dramatic irony that’s revealed near the end was absolutely brilliant, but if I’m being honest with my self, the script was GOD awful. Even in Pixar films sometimes I find myself twitching in my seat if the characters start reading lines in a way no rational actor would read lines and it bothers me that no other critic seems to care. Because no live action film under the sun would get away with a character so bizarrely abusive as Norman's dad.

I now realize I have never had this issue with any R&C production. Never! While the stories almost always loose their steam and direction, the characterization and general dialogue was reliably witty and brisk. Seeing as “Crack in Time's” writer is clacking away at the script I could not be more pleased, as that was the most emotionally resonant chapter of them all... but not the best one. Speaking of which:

  3. Ultimate Supreme Executive Chairman Drek

Drek is confirmed as the villain and I am over the moon. Kevin Michael Richardson had simply too much fun playing what was essentially a loving homage to both Gordon Gekko and the Vogons respectively. His PSAs apologizing to planets he was about to rip to pieces were fantastic and echoed with diminishing returns in the series's subsequent villains. I'm certainly looking forward to Ratchet and Clank's initial more antagonistic dynamic, as Taylor wasn't cast until the second game, but choosing Drek over other more popular villains allows for faithful a re-boot of the origin story and that was honestly some of its strongest work. (and I just hope to god he gets to keep his ponytail.)

   4. It Means We're Not Done Yet
The last real entry into the franchise was over three years ago, since then there's been two poorly received multiplayer and tower defense re imaginings of the core gameplay. With the movie on the way it is simply not possible that there won't be a cannon entry either before or during its release.This is a good plan seeing as "Crack in Time" was the closest we've seen to a perfect R&C. In fact I think if they gave it another six months and made it just bit longer they really could have ended the whole series on one mother of a high note. But unlike say, god of war, there is a certain timelessness to these characters and situations that can (and has) stand the test of time and could very well go on forever. Nobody thinks Mario's outstayed his welcome, why shouldn't these guys stick around just a little bit longer? So to sum up my feelings on the movie...
It's about Friggn' Time.

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