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A movie directed by Gore Verbinski.

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Eating Strawberry Pop-Tarts with Kim Novak...

  • Mar 27, 2011
I think it's fair to say that CGI animated movies are really coming of age. As well as actual animation quality reaching new levels of brilliance, films such as How To Train Your Dragon and recent releases from Pixar, such as Up and Toy Story 3, have shown that you can add real emotional depth and take a less formulaic approach to storytelling without sacrificing good old-fashioned entertainment. We're now at a stage where movies that are primarily aimed and marketed at children are appreciated in equal measure by an adult audience, if not more so in some cases. Rango, the debut animated feature from Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski, takes this one stage further in that it's very much an animated movie made for adults that children may also enjoy.

I have to say from the outset that this is by far the strangest mainstream CGI animation to come out of a major US studio that I have ever seen. That, however, is not a bad thing. In fact, it's one of its greatest strengths. This film isn't strange in a heavily stylised way, it's just off-kilter - less Tim Burton, more Terry Gilliam. That odd flavour permeates throughout the entire film, from the character design to the story. It's refreshingly original, at least in terms of it's approach and look.

Indeed, the first things that strike you about this film are its visuals and the quality of the animation. It's no surprise that special effects powerhouse ILM are behind it. This may be their first attempt at producing a animated movie, but I certainly hope it's not the last. The same attention to detail they add to their live-action effects work is evident in Rango. It's completely stunning to look at. It displays a level of textural detail never seen before in a CGI movie. And, thanks to genius cinematographer Roger Deakins, the film is lit to perfection too.

The script, written by Gladiator and The Aviator scribe John Logan, adapted from a story by Verbinski, John Logan and James Ward Byrkit, is sharp, funny, mature and bordering on the existential. It's also littered with movie references - I actually lost count of the number of little sight gags and references to other films. There are tips of the hat to Chinatown, Apocalypse Now, Once Upon A Time in the West (and every other Sergio Leone Western for that matter), High Noon, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Dead Man, Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Wars... As you can see, not many references that the kids will pick up on!
Of course, this film is a Western at it's heart and so all the tropes usually associated with the genre are present in one form or another. The plot is a mish-mash of pretty much every Western you've ever seen. However, the film never really feels like a spoof or pastiche as, just when you think things are getting a bit conventional or familiar, something comes from left-field to shake things up and keep things feeling fresh. Logan writes the dialogue in a very authentic way, which I loved. There are some wonderful Old West aphorisms and great use of period language.

There's a considerable amount of talent voicing the myriad of weird and wonderful creatures in Rango.  Supporting characters are voiced by acting greats such as Ned Beatty, Bill Nighy, Ray Winstone, Alfred Molina and Harry Dean Stanton, along with up and coming stars like Isla Fisher and Abigail Breslin. As you can imagine with a voice cast like that, the performances are all superb.
I must mention Timothy Olyphant's performance as "The Spirit of the West". He does a great job, but, without giving too much away to those yet to see this film, I was a little disappointed they couldn't get the real deal for the part.

Oscar Wilde once said that if you give a man a mask, he'll tell you the truth. Johnny Depp is an actor who often seems shine when working from behind mask, both literal and metaphorical. Whether it's from behind make-up (as in Edward Scissorhands) or theatrical costuming (as in Pirates of the Caribbean), he really seems to revel in the freedoms of working through artifice. Rango is Johnny Depp's show all the way and he really does a great job of voicing the title character in this film. There are overtones of Kermit the Frog in his performance in the early part of the film, and like Henson's iconic creation, he manages to make Rango quirky, lovable, funny and sympathetic. Apparently, due to scheduling constraints, Depp was forced to record all of his dialogue in only 20 days and the cast was assembled in the recording studio so they could all perform with each other. This certainly comes across in the finished film - there's a real immediacy and intimacy to the voice acting.

I adored the score to this movie. Hans Zimmer, a man who seems to be cranking out scores at a phenomenal rate these days, perfectly captures the feel of an old Western, but also injects a lot of energy and even comedy into the soundtrack. The Mariachi owls, who pop up throughout the film to narrate the story, get some brilliant musical moments.

If the film has one flaw, it's in its pacing. I felt that it peaked a bit too early, meaning the climax seems a little bit flat. Still, that's a minor quibble with what is a great slice of animated entertainment.

A refreshingly quirky, unique, and astonishingly well made animated movie, Rango is fun for all the family, but I do think adults will get far more out of this than the kids will.

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March 28, 2011
Great review
March 28, 2011
Thanks, FM_ALEX!. :)
March 28, 2011
awesome review, Simon! We had very similar things to say about this one and we even rated it the same! Thank you and I am happy to see you back around here!
March 28, 2011
Cheers, William! Glad to hear you enjoyed this one. I just read you review (very nice, by the way). I completely agree with you about it being a tad uneven - as I say in my review, I felt it peaked a bit prematurely, which meant the climax was a bit flat. However, it's easy to see past little criticisms like that as the film is just so much darn-tootin' fun. :)
March 27, 2011
This sounds like a fun flick! I love it when I go see an animated film and walk away loving it as much as my niece. I haven't checked this one out yet, though! Thanks for sharing, great review!
March 28, 2011
Thanks! You should definitely check this one out. :)
More Rango reviews
review by . March 06, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Clever, Fun and Entertaining....Johnny Depp Rides On As
I am going to be truly honest here; I love spaghetti westerns and I enjoy almost any film with any sort of theme, tone and mood that is the slightest bit similar to a western. That said, I hope you can understand the mindset I went into this new animated film directed by Gore Verbinski called “Rango”. The film was written by John Logan (responsible for acclaimed hits such as “Gladiator” and “The Aviator”), who isn’t exactly known for kid movies; and I have …
review by . March 05, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
   Going into this film I had pretty low expectations. It’s released by Nickelodeon, stars Johnny Depp, who tends to be rather feast or famine, and is an animated film that’s not made by Pixar. Due to that latter fact, the probability of it sucking hard went up by, oh, about 300%. So imagine my surprise when I went in and actually liked the movie! Rango stars Depp as the title character, a chameleon who finds himself lost in the middle of the Nevada desert. A kindly, if somewhat …
review by . August 01, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
**** out of ****     When I first discovered that director Gore Verbinski was not going to continue his "Pirates of the Caribbean" saga to work on a new animated film called "Rango", I was a bit of a skeptic. And then, the film released, and I started hearing some good things about it; so I saw it. You can't tell much from trailers, but if you take a good luck as the ones for "Rango"; you'll notice that the animation alone may be enough reason for you to see it, especially if …
review by . March 06, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
I’m wary when it comes to animated movies because I don’t know when I’m going to experience another Shrek (which was surprisingly awesome) or Hoodwinked (which is easily in the top three worst films I ever had to sit through, and takes the cake on worst kid movie I’ve ever had to endure) I had no intention of going to see Rango, but one of my aunts really wanted to see it for her birthday so to the movies my family and I went. On opening weekend. On a Saturday matinee. …
review by . March 05, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         Gore Verbinski’s Rango is a treasure of an animated film – funny, smart, stylish, perfectly cast, and a technical achievement. Although its pratfall humor, bright colors, and usage of talking animals will almost certainly make it accessible to children, I suspect adults will find it more appealing, for they are far more likely to be familiar with the conventions of the movie western. This movie doesn’t miss a beat: It takes place …
review by . March 03, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
   Every film product must satisfy it's audience. Since we're talking about an animated film, the goals are harder to obtain simply because you must project a rich and attractive story filled with funny moments and a detailed animated world. We've seen animated movies made for a smaller audience like, for example, The Illusionist from last year, which addresses adults and not underaged idealists. Rango is a movie for all ages because probably everyone will have a good time …
review by . March 05, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Love this Lizard!
RANGO   Written by John Logan   Directed by Gore Verbinski   Voices by Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Ned Beatty and Alfred Molina       Rango: No man can walk out on his own story.       As I waited for RANGO to start, I was forced to sit through a number of trailers for this year’s other expected animated features.  All are unnecessary sequels hoping to cash in on previous success and they all …
review by . March 22, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Rango, Is Best Suited For The 12 Year and Older Kids.
When my wife and I first seen the advertisement on the television we thought that it was really cute. If it were not for the fact that our daughter has also seen this preview, we probably never even thought twice about taking her to see it. What the preview doesn't show you is all of the senseless words that the chameleon( voice of Johnny Depp) uses throughout the whole movie. This computer animated western is supposed to be for the kids, but with this language the has transpired throughout …
Quick Tip by . August 22, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Absolutely delightful!!  It never ceases to amaze me at how fascinating good animation is; my daughter and I enjoyed this one -- the characters seemed true to life, the special effects were amazing, it was humorous and taught a good lesson too.  Johnny Depp was amazing (as usual) as the voice of Rango; in fact, all the characters were great and true to life.  A wonderful animated film with a great story line -- if you haven't seen it yet, please do!!      I'm …
review by . March 11, 2011
We’ve all heard the age old joke… Why did the armadillo cross the road?  To get to the… Eeeekkk! Ok maybe not, but after this weekend you will get what I’m trying to say.  Director Gore Verbinski shares a story that over flows with life due to his unusual method of recording voices by actually having his actors acting out the scenes and recording the action to create a base line for the animated characters that are soon to follow.  Rango is a film that has …
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Simon Lee Tranter ()
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About this movie


The film was produced by Nickelodeon Movies, Gore Verbinski's production company Blind Wink, and Graham King's GK Films. The CGI animation was created by Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), marking the first feature animation done by ILM, generally a special effects company.[4]

During voice recording, the actors were given costumes and sets to "help give them the feel of the Wild West". Star Johnny Depp had a 20-day window in which he could voice his role as Rango, and the filmmakers scheduled the supporting actors so as they could do their scenes with Depp and interact with him.[5]

Verbinski said his attempt with Rango was to do a "small" film after the large-scale Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, but that he underestimated how painstaking and time-consuming animated filmmaking is.

An animated Western with a chameleon as the hero is an unlikely concept, butRangois a great film thanks to its witty mix of parody, intriguing characters, and sophisticated humor. When a common pet chameleon who's suffering from an identity crisis crashes headfirst into the stereotypically classic Western town of Dirt, he has the unique opportunity to completely reinvent himself. Dubbing himself Rango, the chameleon boasts of his own heroism and creates a spiral of deception that lands him an appointment as sheriff of a town in crisis. The question is, can one unprepared and completely unqualified chameleon possibly change this little town's future for the ...
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Movies, Animated Films, 2d, Paramount Pictures, Gore Verbinski Movies


Director: Gore Verbinski
Genre: Action, Adventure, Animation
Release Date: 4 March 2011 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG
Screen Writer: John Logan
Runtime: 107 minutes
Studio: Paramount Pictures
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