Monday, February 13, 2012

Rango (2011)

RANGO (2011)
Director: Gore Verbinski
Starring: Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Ned Beatty

Rango (voiced by Depp) is a wildly imaginative chameleon who has lived a sheltered life up until the point he finds himself alone and wandering the Mojave Desert. He winds up in the town of Dirt, a lawless Wild West town populated by many desert animals, including a lizard named Beans (Fisher) and run by the Mayor (Beatty) an old turtle. Rango decides that he can make up whatever past he wants, so he tells the townsfolk tales of false bravado, after which they elect him sheriff of their lawless town. After their water supply goes missing, Rango has to try to save the town, using his ingenuity and imagination while saving face for his new friends.

Rango is an absolutely delightful film from start to finish. It is incredibly entertaining, thanks to expert work by Verbinski and top notch voice talent headed by Depp. He was truly enjoying himself in this film, and his voice talent is just as impressive as his regular acting ability. Rango is a great throwback to classic westerns, including many homages to the genre, be it character design, a classic western plot, or even the mariachi band (made up of owls) who act as the film’s Greek chorus, always gleefully Rango’s ultimate demise, whether it’s true or not.

I am not a fan of most animated films and usually avoid them like the plague, particularly CG ones, but there was so much to like about this film, starting with the impressive animation. Roger Deakins, in my opinion the most amazing cinematographer working right now, was called in to consult on the framing of shots, and this expert consultation was obvious. There were so many amazing sequences (watch the chase scene between Rango’s posse and the thieves about 2/3 into the film, for example) that would have been impressive in live action, but were breathtaking in this form.

Rango also boasts a very intelligent script that features clever film references that will only be caught by “film people”, but isn’t so esoteric that it’s not for everyone. In fact, most times, it’s completely absurd and hilarious; I was laughing really hard throughout most of the film. It really was an enjoyable film that I can recommend to everyone, even the most jaded film lovers, since I’m solidly in that column as well.

3.5 out of 5 stars

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