With western films seemingly on the comeback in recent years, it was only a matter of time before an animated version of the wild wild west made it to our screens and it has done so in the guise of Rango. Rango (Johnny Depp) is an eccentric chameleon with ambitions of one day becoming the thespian that he believes he is destined to be. Fate casts him a die and as with many animated films these days catapults him from within his comfort zone, accompanied by his ever trusty sidekick Mr. Timms (a plastic goldfish) into the barren and unforgiving wild… the wild west in fact. As usual Depp brings his own unique style to the character of Rango really making it his own.
Rango meets up with many other inhabitants of the desert (20+) who are quirky and unique animals in their own right giving the movie real depth and I have to say that the visuals in this are stunning. They are some of the best out there and it really is starting to get to that point that you forget it is an animation with the scenery and hot dry climate being portrayed looking top notch. Add the gritty aforementioned critters who look like they have been worn down by the desert sands over time and it’s a hats off to the animators who have outdone their Pixar/Dreamworks rivals.
The movies humour is great and combines lots of slapstick, good one liners and excellent facial expressions that really got me going but this I felt is traded off, if only slightly, as the movie advances so that the plot can develop further. As usual with these films there is some subtle and some not so subtle comic references for the older generations that are likely to swoop over a few younger heads. Links to old wild west films are strewn in as well with the spirit of the west and the man with no name making their traditional western appearances. In fact more so than usual I would say that the humour is based more towards an adult audience than that of a children’s one.
Throughout the movie four singing mariachi owls accompany Rango narrating his tale a la the three mice from Babe, well not quite but you get the gist- maybe more akin to the rooster from Robin Hoodand provide another perspective that does well to break the movie up and add to the comedy of it all. The mariachi owls music and the movie score also draws you in and any movie that can play Ride of the Valkyries on a banjo and still make it sound good wins my vote! Hans Zimmer (Batman,Inception, Gladiator, Lion King to name but a few) working his musical ability once again.
All in all Rango has managed to combine great jokes, funny characters and stunning visuals within a solid story. The combination of Depp and Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean 1,2,3) has worked well again and it seems to have broken the mould in so far as it’s a children’s animation and yet I can see the adults coming away with the bigger smiles.