Rango (2011)

Accidentally stranded in the Mojave Desert, an unnamed pet chameleon (Johnny Depp)  is put to the test as he is left to fend for himself in difficult circumstances. Chased by a hawk, plagued by surreal nightmares and mocked by a band of owl mariachi, our hero finds refuge in the isolated town of Dirt after garnering directions from fellow lizard Baked Beans (Isla Fisher). Promoted to sheriff after being encouraged to reinvent himself as the courageous Rango, Depp is left to investigate the town’s sudden drought and a mysterious conspiracy which may or may not incriminate Dirt’s mayor Tortoise John (Ned Beatty), all the while avoiding Rattlesnake Jake (Bill Nighy) and his gatling gun tail.

Rango is a revelation, living proof that you don’t need an overpriced pair of gimmicky glasses to appreciate beautifully rendered characters and an immersive, three dimensional (in the traditional sense) computer generated environment. Rango is intricately animated, Johnny Depp’s jittery chameleon an absolute pleasure as he exudes as much personality in action as he conveys through speech. Growing before the audience’s eyes, the character develops at the same pace as the plot, with each change in direction simultaneously reflecting in Rango‘s self-concept.

Not one to frequent the western genre, I tend to find it one of the most clichéd and repetitive film categories there is. A steady slew of Stetsons, bandits and Mexican standoffs. Whether it’s The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Wild Wild West or True Grit, I often find my mind wandering as soon as a gruffled stranger first halters his revolver, abreast his trusty steed. It takes something quite out of the ordinary – Back to the Future III, Brokeback Mountain or Joss Whedon’s Firefly – to induce a sufficient feeling of novelty to sustain my interests beyond the ten minute point. Rango, then, strikes just the right balance between convention and creation, its casting of desert animals in the roles often filled with moustached squinters adding a new dimension to this increasingly stagnant genre.

Director Gore Verbinski brings the same endless imagination to Rango that he once did to Pirates of the Caribbean, reinvigorating his subject matter with infectious aplomb. Reunited with Depp, the two conspire to create one of the most layered and consistent movies of the year, one which just happens to be animated and populated with lizards and amphibians. Rango is as incompetent a hero as Jack Sparrow could ever hope to be, just one thing this film has in common with his previous trilogy. Rattlesnake Jake’s replacement tale and a Tyrannosaurus hawk prove particular highlights, the creative team’s decision to depart from the usual doe-eyed critters, in preference of a truly hideous ensemble, yet another aspect to be praised.

Rango is a truly unique beast, a children’s 2D animation that hands out nightmares with the same propensity with which it dispatches jokes, and a reverence for the western genre that isn’t allowed to pollute the atmosphere and hinder the outstanding creativity on show here. Rango is simply superb, a film which, by all means, isn’t really for anyone. Odd, quirky and utterly insane, Rango is everything 2009’s 9 failed to be.

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

2 Responses to Rango (2011)

  1. Nostra says:

    I also loved this and as you say it could cause nightmares with kids, but I think it was really well done. The animation style was amazing and I can’t wait to see what ILM will do next in the genre. Really next level stuff.

  2. Pingback: March 2011 – You made me…a period mix? « popcornaddict

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