Rango (2011)

March 08, 2011 By Mike B
Movie Review

What Worked?

Rango is an astounding reminder that Pixar is not the only production company able to churn out amazing animated films. Unlike Pixar titles, Rango is rough, tough, and even philosophical at times, making for a remarkable animated Western film filled with visual splendor. Gore Verbinski, who also directed the Pirates of the Caribbean films, directs Rango as a Western majestic myth with edgy humor, and Johnny Depp fits the style with ease.

The animation of the animals and creatures in the film are crafted with care, and are rich with realistic qualities. Suprisingly enough, this film is strictly in 2-D, and its 2-D animation is more breathtaking than most 3-D animated films. The town of Dirt, which is where Rango spends most of his adventures, is a typical Western film setting, cleverly converted to fit the lives of desert creatures. In addition to the realstic, and inventive animation, the creativity of the visuals is top-notch. Verbinski does an amazing job creating sweeping translations of the main character’s imagination. For example, as Rango is in the clutches of the merciless desert, the cacti morph into rattlesnake rattles. One could even say the film projects a slight Terry Gilliam feel; in fact, there’s even a homage to one of Gilliam’s desert-set films.

Depp specializes in quirky, offbeat characters, making him a perfect fit as Rango, who is a pet lizard with an imagination as powerful as that of a child’s. Playing Rango, Depp’s voice acting is distinctly different, as the audience will not recognize him as Depp, or any other of his previous characters, but as Rango himself. Depp’s delivery of his wise-cracking lines is the right amount of kookiness mixed with wonderment, and always entertaining. Joining him are the voice talents of Isla Fisher as the love interest named Beans, Ned Beatty as the powerful Mayor, and Bill Nighy as the dangerous Rattlesnake Jake. The cherry-on-top is the cameo of a legendary character in the Western film genre, voiced well enough by Timothy Olyphant.

Rango is a film tailored more for adults, but is still accessible to a wide audience. The film contains guns, gross-out moments, adult humor, and even a small kill count, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. One of the essential themes of the film, the construction of one’s identity, speaks to everyone old, young and in-between. “Who am I?” Rango asks himself over and over. It’s a question that we continually wrestle with, and this film provides a fittingly simple answer: you are who you believe you are. Rango’s hilarious and crazy journey of self-identity in the wild west is the first must-see film of 2011.

Potential Drawbacks:

The accessibility of this film isn’t as wide as an animated picture like Toy Story 3 simply because it’s handled in a different manner. Some expecting a wholly kid-friendly flick might be disappointed.

Another possible complaint is that the creatures in the town are funny, but sometimes difficult to care for.

Film Recommendations:

Science of Sleep

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