Monday, December 3, 2012

Rango (2011) Review


I wasn’t quite sure what to think of Rango from the original previews that advertised the movie. Some of them didn’t really sell what the movie was about and what was shown didn’t seem all that funny or entertaining. As the release got closer, the ads began improving and I started getting more excited for it until finally seeing the film. The final result ends up being quite a bit different than expected and is more unique and creative than the majority of other animated movies out there.

Plot Synopsis: After being stranded in the middle of the desert, the chameleon Rango comes upon a small town named Dirt, which is populated by various other animals. Soon they task him with the job of being their sheriff for the time being and protect the town while they figure out a way of fixing the drought Dirt has been experiencing.

While that sounds like a fairly simple plot, Rangos more eccentric sensibilities come into play with its brand of humor. The movie comes off as a weird amalgam of Clint Eastwood westerns and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, while also adding in other in-jokes that movie buffs should pick up on. While Rango the character is an original creation, he is not too dissimilar from Raoul Duke, the protagonist of Fear and Loathing.

This doesn’t come as too much of a shock since both are played by Johnny Depp, and with the decision to have Rango be a chameleon is a little ironic given Depp’s chameleon-like ability to slip into roles (including this one). The rest of the cast, while it’s not filled with stars in the way that DreamWorks frontloads its movies, is an eclectic mix of lesser-known but great actors that slip into their characters. Isla Fisher plays Rango’s love interest Beans, Bill Nighy (known mostly for his portrayal of Davy Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean) voices the feared Rattlesnake Jake, and look for Timothy Olyphant in a memorable role that pops up later on.

Speaking of Pirates of the Caribbean, that film series shares the same director as this one, Gore Verbinski. Verbinski’s career has been very diverse over the years, starting with the children’s movie Mouse Hunt, moving on to The Ring and then the Pirates trilogy. Rango is more in line with Mouse Hunt than any other; it’s an animated movie with animal characters that looks like a kids movie, but has a darker sense of humor than most others. When the action comes, the characters feel like they are in real danger and the overall film feels geared more towards an older age crowd. Although when your writer also penned The Aviator, Any Given Sunday, and Gladiator, that’s not much of a surprise.

That said, Rango does tend to drag in a couple of places and the pacing could have been quickened up. The movie is a little long in the midsection but things pick up again with some fun action sequences in the third act. It’s not quite up to Pixar’s level, but Rango is more visually inventive and sharply written than the majority of other kids animated movies, and it may even entertain older and more mature audiences greater than the child crowd.


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