Saturday, 12 March 2011


Rango [Review]

Opinion: B

Be prepared to breach your expectations when this quirky animated feature shoots you away from conventional stereotypes of its genre. Rango is more orientated towards the matured audience group and might prove to be a little dense for the younger audience who's really looking for exaggerated linear characters. Essentially a western film at heart blessed with splendid voice acting by Johnny Depp.

From the director of The Pirates of the Caribbean comes RANGO, featuring Johnny Depp in an original animated comedy-adventure that takes moviegoers for a hilarious and heartfelt walk in the Wild West.

The story follows the comical, transformative journey of Rango (Johnny Depp), a sheltered chameleon living as an ordinary family pet, while facing a major identity crisis. After all, how high can you aim when your whole purpose in life is to blend in? When Rango accidentally winds up in the gritty, gun-slinging town of Dirt - a lawless outpost populated by the desert's most wily and whimsical creatures - the less-than-courageous lizard suddenly finds he stands out. Welcomed as the last hope the town has been waiting for, new Sheriff Rango is forced to play his new role to the hilt . . . until, in a blaze of action-packed situations and encounters with outrageous characters, Rango starts to become the hero he once only pretended to be.

With a cast that includes Depp, Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Alfred Molina, Bill Nighy, Harry Dean Stanton, Ray Winstone and Timothy Olyphant as the Spirit of the West, Rango is an exciting new twist on the classic Western legend of the outsider who saves a town - and himself in the process.

For a start, a movie like Rango associates itself with other notable animated features that have been championed by the likes of Pixar even prior its release. It happened for me as well and with that mentality, the film's opening immediately felt strange as the story began with a lizard (whose real name and background isn't elaborated) accidentally dropped off in the middle of a desert highway.

Soon greeted by an unfortunate desert creature, the lizard finds himself headed towards a town by the name of "Dirt" as he gets tangled within his tale of fulfilling his intended destiny.

Much homage is paid to classic westerns as the visuals do re-enact the feel of a western film very well, thanks to the great works of ILM (Industrial Light & Magic) as this marks their very first array into animated feature films. On an interesting note, Rango was rendered only in 2D offerings, much unlike the trend that recent animated features are heading towards.

As a result, Rango visually rivals with exceptional vibrance and brightness (which is often lacking in 3D).

With a script written by John Logan (of The Aviator fame), the audience is treated to lines and jokes heavily accented by voice actors that may dissuade the younger audience. So in a way, its PG rating instead of a G rating might be really referencing the film material as everything less some larger than life sequences really do mirror a live action western film.

The western formula is applied here: A stranger enters town, performs deeds that wins the whole town's attention (and possibly trust), then falls from grace before going on to prove his worth as a new-born hero. "So what's new?", you might question.

A quirky animated western is what makes it different.

Depp deserves a whole lot of credit when it comes to injecting the film with soul that goes beyond influential vibes, a random lizard becomes much alive when blessed with the quirky voice acting by Depp. Together with other notable ugly looking creatures, I mean characters, with the likes of a music ensemble quartet that often sings of death and imminent failure (this should be weird enough even for a western), it is clearly distinguishing itself from other safe animated offerings.

Being an animation allows the characters to take up various creature forms that coats the film with a raw overtone as the film isn't afraid of depicting ugly visuals to the audience with slime and dirty looking furs sported by the characters. In a way, this is possibly another form of quirkiness, but it might be a bold movement where animations shift away from being pristinely over-polished.

You might not buy Gore Verbinski's take on an animated feature, but it's a fresh change from the highly inert template set by previous genre offerings. Although it might possibly lose out on sellings with a targeted matured audience group, it's a good move to be different instead of trying to derive similar that could prove deadly to the creative filmmaking process.

Rango isn't your typical animated feature, it's a new outsider who's just arrived in town eager to prove its worth.


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