Rango (2011) – Review

Johnny Depp voices Rango, a film that turns the classical western on its head...

Westerns seem to be a popular subject for film at the moment, especially with the revitalised True Grit currently at cinemas, but now there is a new western on the block, a new gunslinger and, most importantly, a new hero… ladies and gentlemen, meet Rango.

Rango is the animation debut of Gore Verbinski of Pirates of the Carribean fame. Having steered away from falling into the 3D trap that so many animations films have recently, Rango is a sharp, cutting-edge animation with adult humour and grotesque characters.

Johnny Depp voices Rango and who better to voice a chameloen thesbian who looks very similar to Raoul Duke from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. When we first meet Rango he is acting out his lastest triumph, a play he has constructed within the confines of his glass prison. While travelling across the Nevada desert his owner’s car swerves and poor Rango is suddenly free. Not knowing what to do, he is lead towards a town called Dirt. On his journey he meets a host of other animals including birds, moles, cats, turtles and a lizard who freezes, voiced by the amazing Isla Fisher.

Water is running short and the town is in despair. Rango sees this as his opportunity to be a true hero far beyond his imagination and he soon becomes the Sheriff. It is now his duty to bring the water back, defeat an evil Snake Gunslinger and face a corrupted Mayor.

The animation in Rango is some of the most detailed and technical in today’s cinema. It stands out above recent releases Tangled and Despicable Me. The detail is so outstanding in fact that 3D is not needed to heighten its visual delights.

Johnny Depp is charismatic as Rango who is himself a bit of a tragic character. Living in his tank, acting out his plays and not really knowing who he is, he personifies a strong theme throughout the film; identity and belief in yourself.

The humour is quite adult and the characters are quick-witted and fast talking, something that smaller ears can’t quite keep up with and won’t understand. They will laugh at the slap stick comic elements, including Rango getting knocked out, animals falling over etc., but it is much more intellectual than that. With a fantastic array of characters who are largely ugly and odd, which is a far cry from the fluffy, attractive light-hearted ones in most animated films, Rango is strengthened by its differences.

Rango will undoubtedly turn a lot of heads and hopefully open the door for more animated features like it in the future.

Best performance: Johnny Depp as Rango.
Best scene: When Rango is off to get the water back with his band of heroes and the Amigo Owl’s musical interludes.
Best line: ‘Here in the Mojave desert, animals have had millions of years to adapt to the harsh environment. But the lizard… he is going to die’. – Mariachi Owl
Watch this if you liked: Shrek, Iron Giant

The first animated feature for special effects company Industrial Light & Magic.

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