Featuring the voices of James Arnold Taylor and David Kaye. Rated PG
Kids’ movies don’t get much busier and noisier than Ratchet & Clank, an animated space adventure based on a PlayStation game. Young gamers might not mind all the competing colours and sounds, but their parents might need a stiff drink in a dark room afterwards.
The story line is simple, though, with one nice twist. Ratchet is a catlike mechanic who worships the Galactic Rangers, a band of superheroes. Clank is an accidentally good robot made in the evil-robot factory. They team up with the Rangers to fend off the planet-destroying plans of the leader of the Blarg (voiced by Paul Giamatti). The twist comes when we find out the head Ranger is a Donald Trump–like figure who’d rather shoot first and strategize later. He’s also prone to delightful egotism and jealousy. The film’s plot is wisely centred on him.
But it still finds way too much time for glib metacommentary, which is fun the first time we read “cue the bad guy’s speech in 3 … 2 …,” less so for the next hundred in-jokes—although Sylvester Stallone gets in a couple of good ones as a Blarg henchman.
The film was produced in Vancouver by Rainmaker Entertainment. At its best, the design resembles a futuristic Florence, Italy, on crack. The orange, neon green, and browns really pop. But the sound design—blarg! It’s a cacophony of effects, wall-to-wall music, and clashing vocal performances that make you long for the quiet restraint of a Pixar movie.