14 Apr

Title: Rango
Gore Verbinski
Writer: John Logan, based on a story by himself, Gore Verbinski and James Ward Byrkit
Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Alfred Molina, Bill Nighy, Harry Dean Stanton, Ray Winstone, Ned Beatty, Timothy Olyphant
MPAA Rating:
PG, rude humor, language, action and smoking
107 min
Major Awards:

IMDb Rating:
Rotten Tomatoes:

I saw Rango about a month ago in Rhode Island when I went to visit a friend there. And considering this year’s Pixar release is a sequel to Cars (which is the only Pixar film I haven’t given an A-range grade to) then this one’s definitely in the running to become the best animated film of 2011. Because, much like the Pixar films, Rango is an animated movie that will appeal tremendously to both kids and adults, maybe even moreso to adults actually, and one that has a really smart screenplay, and some incredibly gorgeous animation.

Not only was Rango truly outstanding, but it was also a film I didn’t really think would be this great, and as such it will definitely be amongst my most welcome surprises of the 2011 movie year. And you know what else is fantastic about Rango? It’s not done in effin 3D. Now, if you’ve read my reviews then you know I’m not a 3D detractor, because I like it when it’s done well, but you’ll also know that I usually don’t think it’s done well and thus end up disliking the effect the technology has on films, especially on how it dims the color in them, a fact that becomes painfully more noticeable in animated movies. By not having to deal with the depth issues 3D brings to the table this one pays more attention to the lots of other details and makes full use of the screen, and the result is pretty breathtaking.

I’ll honestly recommend Rango to everyone I can, that’s how much I liked it. It was a pretty special animated film, and it all starts with its stellar voice ensemble. And notice I use the word ensemble and not stars, because as far the voices and how they fit and succeed together in Rango, it was most certainly a team job. I mean, yes, Johnny Depp does indeed play the titular character and his name was the one being used to draw in the crowds on opening day, but the rest of the cast is just as amazing as him. Mr. Depp is so great at playing the chameleon because it doesn’t feel like Mr. Depp, this isn’t a character made to sound like him like so many of the ones he’s playing nowadays, but one in which he had to find a unique voice and create this terrific persona for the character, and the rest of the cast is just as amazing, and it’s how well they mesh with one another that makes this one stand out, from Isla Fisher to Alfred Molina to Abigail Breslin to Harry Dean Stanton, there’s no weak link here.

It’s about this chameleon who falls from the car of his suburban owners into the desert, where he finds a town that’s on the verge of running out of water. He pretends to be a hero (he’s a ‘trained’ actor, after all) and gets himself appointed sheriff, but when the day really needs saving he’ll have to prove just how heroic he can be. There’s a conspiracy plot about who controls the water in the town, and thus has the power over it, that’s straight from Chinatown and that’s really well crafted and developed.

And really the worst thing you can do when approaching Rango is think about it as a kids movie, because it’s really not, it’s very much a grown-up film, one full of references to westerns three decades old, complete with an appearance by a guy called the Spirit of the West which was modeled after Clint Eastwood as is voiced by the awesome Timothy Olyphant who of course plays TV’s most kickass sheriff in Justified.

Not to mention adults will really appreciate the whole look of this film. Not only was Roger Deakins on board as a visual consuslt, and he’s a 9 time Oscar-nominated cinematographer who has worked on both No Country for Old Men and last year’s True Grit so he definitely knows how to make this part of America look all sorts of gorgeous. And that’s for the cinematography part, for the actually effects of it, Rango was awesome enough to get ILM to do the visual effects, and they did the most beautiful job ever, not only is every single character designed to perfection and every single hair on them looks amazing, but literally everything looks breathtaking here, sometimes not even feeling like CGI at all which is truly something to behold, definitely one of the most arresting pieces of animation I’ve seen.

This has been me praising Rango non-stop, and it really deserves it, because it’s an animated film that in no point goes out of its way to have a huge sequence just to please the kids. Don’t get me wrong, there’s no way the kids won’t get a huge kick out of this, because there are a lot of funny and action-y bits to love in here, but they’re all there as part of the story, not as some cheap gratuitous plot point. So if you take kids to see Rango they’ll have a lot to be loving while they watch the film, the good thing is that you’ll probably have even more.

Please please please go see Rango, I cannot insist more on that. This is a film that in its photo-realistic approach looks like the best live-action film you could hope for, a film smart enough to desist on the 3D technology that would have taken so much of its magic away, one that will bombard you with all these awesome movie references and really rad pieces of dialogue. Just a tremendous experience I can’t recommend enough.

Grade: A-


One Response to “Rango”

  1. Mystery Man April 16, 2011 at 1:16 pm #

    great review! i especialyl agree with you on the 3D thing. Everytime a trailer showed for this, i was waiting for them to say…”in 3D”, which i think would have taken away from this great film.

    check out my review, if you get the chance!

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