18 March 2011



Starring the voices of Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Alfred Molina, Bill Nighy, Harry Dean Stanton, Ray Winstone, Timothy Olyphant
Written by John Logan
Story by Gore Verbinski, John Logan, James Byrd
Directed by Gore Verbinski
Release: 4 March 2011
GK Films, 107 mins., Rated PG
Plot: Pet Chameleon Rango (Depp) is on his own in desert and comes across the town Dirt and becomes the new Sheriff.

There’s a couple thousand RANGO reviews on the net already, so I’ll keep this brief and to the point. In the past couple years, audiences have been wowed with some truly impressive and real-life like animation, mostly from Pixar, in the form of artistic juggernauts WALL-E and TOY STORY 3. They even have the audacity to boast superb scripts that mix comedy and drama perfectly, creating a movie that transcends just being an animated flick and instead becomes a instantly memorable and tug-at-your-heart experience that you’ll revisit and own with love.

Enter RANGO. Sorry WALL-E and TOY STORY 3, but you have been surpassed in the animated department. I know, in this day ‘n age, how is it possible for the animated field of motion pictures to improve and improve? Digital effects, I understand, but animated movies? Inconceivable!, to quote a line of dialogue that will be just as clever and brilliant after the earth is destroyed by Cylons. Yet RANGO looks and feels like something fresh, displaying details in skin and terrain and earthly elements like dust that have never been so…pristine…or perfect.

And when you have animation as exquisite as we have here and add in some super ingenious direction by Gore Verbinski and hilarious and perfect acting by the likes of Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Bill Nighy, and Alfred Molina – well, by Gods, what you have then is cinematic gold. RANGO opens with some brilliant camerawork, and it doesn’t let up till the credits roll. Rango is thrown through the wind, landing on vehicles here and there and everywhere and eventually landing in the dirt with a loud thud, and this is presented to us with some real creative cinematography as the camera doesn’t seem to let up. Not too far on from there, we have Rango running for his life from an hawk, and he finds refuge in a glass bottle; the camera zooms from inside the bottle to outside and inside again, and as a testament to the animation and clever camera maneuvering the shot comes across without any sort of imperfections. When Rango crosses into genres – and it does, specifically the western, most obviously – the camera adjusts itself as so. In fact, although the movie could be considered a love letter to westerns, RANGO pays homage and embraces the styles of many genres all the while staying its own unique creation.

Oh! And let me not forget mentioning the absolutely BRILLIANT cameo from “The Man with No Name”, brought to life in some superb animation and voice work by Timothy Olyphant (only appropriate, after Olyphant’s performance as Raylan Givens in JUSTIFIED). An completely unexpected, hilarious, and fantastically done cameo in the same vain as Bill Murray in ZOMBIELAND.

As expected, Depp, Nighy, Fisher, Molina, Olyphant, and all the voice actors are top notch, and, as also expected, Depp’s work as Rango should not be undervalued. Marvelous, marvelous work, and definitely makes up for the redundant Mad Hatter in Burton’s ALICE IN WONDERLAND. The characters are continually interesting, each with their own particular ‘quirks’ and identities, making the cast – not only Rango himself but the whole lot – just as important and memorable to the story and, furthermore, success of the film.

I could babble on about RANGO, but I think it would end up just being mush. Point is: the animation work in RANGO is motherfrakking spectacular. The voice work and script are clever and perfect. Gore Verbinski proves he’s a master of cinematography not only with live action but in the animation scene, as well. No matter the debate about whether RANGO’s for the kids or not for the kids, RANGO is a perfect movie, and a beautiful love letter to film-making. Plus, it’s helluva fun ride.

Last note: anyone else feel chills with the night shot of the cacti as it looks towards the camera? Freaky, man, just freaky.


Jack L said...

Sounds great, I can't wait to see this!
I had heard it was good but you're review makes it sounds unmissable...

Great review Andy

Andy the Time Lord said...

Thanks Jack! Unmissable - yep, that's a good word to use. Hope you enjoy when you watch it.

Anonymous said...

Inventive visuals and lively voice cast lift this finely animated film above the fray. So it's a shame that the story feels both random and predictable. Good review, check out mine when you can please!