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A movie directed by Gore Verbinski.

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Rango: Mediocrity never looked so dazzling

  • Mar 6, 2011
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. Oh, the children! There were so many…everything…multiplying like Gremlins right before my very eyes…

The theater was so packed that I split from my family, who only had the front-bottom row if they wanted to sit together. I found a nice second-to-last seat three rows from the top. A lively woman, her BFF and the BFF’s three kids sat in the first five seats. They were fun.

There was a preview for Hoodwinked 2, which I took as a very bad sign. Lord, what was I in for?

Spoiler-Free Synopsis: Rango, a domesticated, theatrically inclined chameleon winds up in the Mojave desert and stumbles upon the down-trodden old West style town of Dirt, where the water has mysteriously gone scarce. Seizing the opportunity to begin anew, Rango soon becomes sheriff and sets out to discover the truth about the missing water.

Spoilers below the poster.


- Aesthetic! I have never seen a more beautifully created CGI film. Industrial Light and Magic shouldn’t have to even wait for an Oscar, they ought to have one handed to them right now for this feat. From the scales, hair and skin on every animal to the gorgeous – dare I say “shots”? – of the breathtaking desert sky, the glow of the sunset, the dream sequences, everything was so masterfully crafted and treated with the utmost perfectionist quality.

- Shout outs to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Clint Eastwood and other films. On the downside, I often felt like I was watching a parody of classic films instead of something unique.

- Johnny Depp. I’m not a “OMG JOHNNY DEPP!” fan, but I have enjoyed his work since I was a kid and first saw him in Edward Scissorhands. While I’m not a fan of big-name screen actors taking away work from genuine, full-time voice actors, I did enjoy his performance enough to give him a special shout out. Many of Johnny’s contemporaries were not up to snuff, sad but not surprising, but Johnny certainly upped the ante for actors taking on animated characters.

- The score. Hans Zimmer knocks it out of the park once again.


- I wasn’t a fan of the script. I felt the humor was forced at times, especially when it came to ensuring that the grown-ups in the audience had something to laugh at. It didn’t come as easily as the slapstick. Also, as I mentioned above, all of the "homages" and parodying took away from the film as it was definitely not its own film, but a sloppy hodge-podge of better, classic films.

- Run time. It runs at 1 hour and 47 minutes, which I felt was about twenty minutes too long. I was squirming, just dying to get out of my seat and leave. The film positively dragged sometimes.

- Unsympathetic characters. Aside from Rango, I didn’t give two hoots about anyone. Beans was annoying, the mayor predictable, the owls obnoxious, and the townsfolk completely soulless. That is, I don’t think they’re malicious but so severely lacking in depth.

- Overuse of the word “interesting” which I felt was a throwback to Pirates of the Caribbean (also directed by Gore Verbinski). Maybe I am reading into things too much but it was noticeably annoying.

- Beans. I don’t know if it was how she was written, or Isla Fisher’s obnoxious voice work, or a combination of the two but hot potatoes did I just want her to fall off a cliff. Quite a few of the townsfolk were also just as ear-gouging bothersome.

Kids? People are saying this is not a kid movie. Oh, don’t take your kids because it’s not for them; there’s swearing. That’s total BS. This is completely a kids movie. It’s Nickelodeon for heaven’s sake, and last I looked, Nickelodeon had a hefty roster of cartoons with humor for both kids and adults. My theory to the critics who say “Rango isn’t for kids” is that many adults are so used to water-downed family movies that they forget plenty of PG movies of the past had scary imagery, a bit of swearing and dark themes/characters (Can we say The Secret of NIMH and All Dogs Go to Heaven?). Out of the audience, which was easily 85% under the age of fifteen, only one child cried during the film.

That’s a Wrap: I know I am in the minority with my feelings on Rango, but I cannot pretend I am enchanted with it as the rest of the critics and populace are.  While I found Rango to be breathtakingly gorgeous to watch, its story was only momentarily clever, satirical to the point of aggravating, predictable and hopelessly mediocre.

Rango Overall Rating
Story: C+
Execution: A+ for aesthetics, B for acting, C for story.
Would I recommend Rango? For people with kids who wouldn’t get scared about things like snakes with a sub machine gun on its rattler, sure. Western enthusiasts might also get a kick out of the film. It’s also definitely worth a watch for the visuals and sound. If you end up enjoying the story, bonus.
Would I buy Rango? No.
Can your mum watch it? If she’s a western/Johnny Depp/animated film enthusiast like mine is, she’ll probably dig it a lot.

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March 11, 2011
BUT IT LOOKS SO CUTE! Great review though, lady! I'll keep these things in mind when I watch it. Thanks for sharing! :)
March 07, 2011
Great catch on "fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" theme--I thought about it but I just wasn't sure. Great review! and I do somewhat agree, there is some profanity though they were more 'hinted' at, they were still there. I liked this one more than you did and that's what makes Movie Hype fun!
March 07, 2011
Yeah, I am kind of bummed that I just couldn't love this film the way others do. Glad you enjoyed it (the film and my review!)
March 07, 2011
Perhaps if Terry Gilliam had directed it... but then again it probably never would have been finished.
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 15, 2011
From the minute I saw the trailer for this movie at True Grit I had high expectations for Rango. Now that I've finally seen it, my expectations were met and exceeded by how incredibly awesome this movie is. Rango is not only the first great movie of 2011, but it's one of the greatest animated films of the last 10, maybe even 20 years and one of the best non-disney/pixar/dreamworks animated films ever. I knew I was going to love this movie, but I had no idea that I would love it as much …
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 . 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 …
About the reviewer
Rachael ()
Ranked #73
   I am a freelance travel/food writer with my own hobby blog, Glass of Win.   I am a regularly featured writer for Visit the Place Los Angeles magazine and online community.
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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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