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Mechanical failure a real wrench

Ratchet & Clank (U, 92 mins)

By Damon Smith

Ratchet (voiced by James Arnold Taylor) is a furry, cat-like creature called a Lombax, who works as a mechanic on Planet Veldin in a ramshackle workshop owned by his mentor Grimroth (John Goodman).

A wizard with a wrench, Ratchet openly dreams of becoming a laser gun-wielding Galactic Ranger like his idols, Captain Qwark (Jim Ward), Cora (Bella Thorne) and Brax (Vincent Tong).

Diabolical Chairman Drek (Paul Giamatti) and his hulking robotic henchman Victor (Sylvester Stallone) invade Veldin with their war bots. Locations, weapons and flimsy plot threads from the games are merrily woven together into a conventional clash between good and evil.

Heroes are immensely likeable and pantomime villains cackle at regular intervals as they set their fatally flawed schemes in motion.

Visuals are colourful and shiny if lacking in meticulous detail. There's no quibbling with the film's worthy intentions. It's just a shame the quality of the animation, vocal performances and narrative sophistication couldn't have strived for greatness too.

Two stars

Golden Years (12, 96 mins)

Arthur Goode (Bernard Hill) and wife Martha (Virginia McKenna) are a retired couple, whose pension pot has been decimated by the financial crisis.

Refusing to fade away in their golden years, the Goodes hatch a hare-brained plan to steal back their pensions from the greedy bankers, using the unlikely getaway car of a sensible Volvo towing a caravan.

Their scheme goes surprisingly well, but when their beloved social club is threatened with closure to make way for a supermarket, Arthur and Martha realise they must stage a heist at the biggest bank of all with a little help from their friends Shirley (Una Stubbs), Royston (Simon Callow) and Brian (Phil Davies).

Alas screenwriter Nick Knowles, best known as presenter of the home improvement TV series DIY SOS, bolts together his ramshackle narrative as if it were cheap flat-pack furniture that is missing a few screws.

Director John Miller's picture would collapse entirely under the weight of its mounting preposterousness were it not for warm-spirited performances from Hill and McKenna as the septuagenarian swindlers, who refuse to go quietly into the twilight of their retirement.

The film, meanwhile, surrenders without a fight within the opening hour.

Two stars

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