Rango, a lonely domestic chameleon, comes face to face with the real world when he becomes stranded in the desert. Stumbling on the desolate and desperate town of Dirt, Rango seizes an opportunity to become what he has always wanted to be, a hero. Featuring the voice talents of Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Bill Nighy and Ned Beatty.
This movie is brilliant. Whilst sitting in a cinema filled to the brim with small children and assorted parents I completely forgot that this film is directed at infants. The first thing you notice about any animated film is the voice talent. Knowing already that the voice of the title reptile is Johnny Depp I surmised that I would be greatly distracted by trying to pick everyone else like I have whilst watching other animated movies, I became engrossed in the universe that “Rango” has invented and the illusion wasn’t broken until the very end. The voices were energetic and comical without being silly and cliché. The music was reminiscent of a variety of Western classics and the characters were derivative of several important “Western” cinema archetypes eg: Mattie Ross from True Grit, Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Hunter. S. Thompson and Wyatt Earp. It was an animated Western through and through.
Rango uses realistic computer generated effects to their full potential, creating a gritty and thoroughly textured landscape that is as intricate as the wrinkles in the faces of the characters. The grimy, hot and dirty atmosphere only adds to the realism created in the film and sets it apart from any other animated film attempting a representation of the real world. Produced through GK Films and Blind Wink, with direction by Gore Verbinski (who directed the Pirates of The Caribbean trilogy) Rango is real, sad, funny and often times disturbing. A unique film that strays from the direction that other children’s films have taken.
I did feel a little uncomfortable with how adult the film felt in parts. It uses bizarre and dark imagery and sets the mood for the dehydrated delirium the character feels whilst stuck in the desert. There are a lot of references to death, a fairly subtle reference to Fear And Loathing In Los Vegas (also starring Johnny Depp) and some creepy characters that are constantly threatening everyone. The rating is PG but there are a lot of references to the violence in classic Western films that, admittedly, would go over most children’s heads but may make some parents cringe. It is also very loud. In saying all this though, I loved every moment that it took me further away from being a cookie cutter children’s film. It felt like a personal homage to the Cowboy films you grew up with from a child’s point of view.
“Rango” surprised me with it’s realistic imagery and subtext, it impressed me with it’s graphics, it made me worry for the children who might become traumatized by it and I realized that I laughed out loud only a few times but I can’t fault this movie. For an animated film, it is perfect.
I give it Four and a half stars out of 5
Rango is in cinemas 10th of March 2011
Fun fact: Rango is the first animated film to have “smoking” in its MPAA rating’s description.