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A movie directed by Gore Verbinski.

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There's a New Sheriff in Town

  • Mar 5, 2011
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 in a small frontier town surrounded by unforgiving desert land; we see a saloon, a general store, and a jailhouse; it centers on a community where social order is defined not by laws, but by personal justice; it introduces us to a stranger who wanders into town and becomes the newest sheriff; it features gunslinging and clocks that strike high noon; and the story involves territorial disputes and political corruption. There’s even hard drinking. No prostitutes, though. Hey, there’s only so far a PG rating can go.
But even the most well researched cinematic homage would be nothing without an engaging plot. Rango draws you in from the very first scene – where a mariachi band of desert owls sing of how the title character passed into legend – and keeps you hooked with a compelling and highly entertaining story of a ramshackle desert community struggling to survive the harsh desert climate. The filmmakers up the ante by working in themes not normally associated with the western, namely the search for identity and discovering the hero within. This is reserved for Rango (voiced by Johnny Depp), a humble chameleon who desperately wants to blend in and doesn’t know who he is outside of the roles he plays; he’s an actor, you see, and at the start, he’s in terrarium rehearsing a play with no one other than a fake miniature palm tree, a windup fish, a dead bug, and a naked Barbie doll, which is missing one arm and a head.

His journey across the Mojave Desert in the back of someone’s car is rudely interrupted when the car suddenly swerves, causing the terrarium to fall through an open window and shatter on the open road. An encounter with a spiritual armadillo (voiced by Alfred Molina) and a hungry hawk lead him to the Old West town of Dirt, which is caught in the grip of a severe drought. Rango quickly acts his way into the hearts of the townsfolk – he adopts a thick western accent, takes on a tough demeanor, and regales them with stories of outlaws who, thanks to him, are now pushing daisies. In a lucky accident, the mean hawk is killed, and Rango is suddenly the town hero. He meets the mayor, Tortoise John (voice by Ned Beatty), who’s elderly and wheelchair bound; he appoints Rango sheriff, and he makes it clear that, with the local supply of water dwindling, the people are running out of things to believe in.
But why is the water dwindling? Is there a conspiracy at work, here? In snooping around for clues, Rango and his posse will face a militia of bat-riding moles, the catalyst for one of the most exciting and technically challenging chase scenes of any recent animated film since Disney/Pixar’s Up. Rango will also face off with the cold, heartless Rattlesnake Jake (voiced by Bill Nighy), whose tail is not a normal rattler but a series of gun barrels. If you’re going to anthropomorphize western archetypes into desert critters, a rattlesnake is by far the best choice for the villain.

Satirical touches are never in short supply, and they have been well written and placed with love and care. Consider the very brief appearances of two humans, one of whom looks uncannily like Hunter S. Thompson. Also consider the film’s single best scene, in which Rango, in a state of spiritual enlightenment, has a conversation with the Spirit of the West. I will say that he’s voiced by Timothy Olyphant, but no power on earth can make me reveal who he’s made to resemble; just know that, considering the genre and the actors who have been immortalized because of it, the filmmakers made the perfect selection. I grant you that children are unlikely to make much of this, but please keep in mind that a family movie is meant to appeal to everyone, not merely to audiences ten and under.
The simple fact is, children will like this movie. They will marvel at the colorful characters, they will laugh at the physical gags, and they will be awed by the renderings. They may even learn a thing or two about loyalty, friendship, and kindness. Adults will appreciate that too, but they will also marvel at how ingeniously the film utilizes western clichés. I personally appreciated the fact that it was released in good old fashioned 2D, a dying trend if ever there was one. For the first time in ages, we have a film that isn’t assaulting your field of vision; Verbinski and the powers that be at Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Studios clearly have held onto the belief that the real goal is to tell a story. Rango is a wonderful looking film, no question, but its greatest achievement is stimulating the imagination.


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March 11, 2011
Great review, I want to go see this.
March 11, 2011
You should go see it. It's a great animated film.
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 27, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
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 …
review by . August 31, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Thematic, Pretty And Not For Everyone
   When you think of the heavy hitters in the animated feature film realm, it’s certainly understandable if the first things that come to mind are Disney, Pixar or DreamWorks.  However Nickelodeon has been hovering around the scene for a while now, hoping to earn a nice piece of the CG animated movie pie. Rango is by far their most serious attempt and while the film’s deserved PG-13 rating may succeed at distancing it from its key demographic (a concept all studios would …
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 …
About the reviewer
Chris Pandolfi ()
Growing up a shy kid in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles, Chris Pandolfi knows all about the imagination. Pretend games were always the most fun for him, especially on the school playground; he and his … more
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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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