3/10/11

RANGO - REVIEW


Sure, the very idea of a trippy animation in which Johnny Depp plays a chameleon wearing a Hawaiian shirt ALONE is amazing. But can that image hold up an entire film on its own?

Hmmmm, barely.

To be fair, this being Gore Verbinski's first venture into animation, this was never going to be pitch-perfect. Then again Wes Anderson's first attempt with Fantastic Mr Fox was pretty polished. I will say this, though: the film looks great. Visually, it is definitely impressive. Although I will nitpick and say that there are way too many close-ups throughout. Like, ok, do we NEED to see every scale on that snake's face? Can't we just assume it has them?

Rango really is an ode to Depp. You've got a Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas reference, you've got a whole bit where Rango displays his acting chops (one of his characters being, ahem, a pirate)...and yes Depp is great in this. Most of the cast is actually pretty good too. The problem, well, one of them, unfortunately lies with the jokes.

There are some clever flashes here and there in the first twenty minutes or so and some parts are genuinely very funny. But then it all turns into a cliched western with a story we've heard and seen a million times. From then on, the jokes are scarce and when they do come, they're weak. It becomes very hard to stay focused or interested in what's happening because we all know from the start that these Mexican owls are talking rubbish and we all know how it'll all end.

There is an environmental message also which *yawn* really doesn't *yawn* bring the film much more originality. I mean, we've got Wall-E, ok? Besides, how green can you get in a film where a hawk's head is literally flattened! Pick a tone, any tone!

It is a shame that a lot of the film's quirkiness feels forced because had Verbinski stuck with the quiet surrealism of the first 20 minutes instead of opting for a more action-orientated gun-toting cowboy flick, we could have had something truly unique here. Still, a good cast, slick visuals and some entertaining bits here and there make Rango worth seeing. Kids who have never seen a western in their lives might actually just lap it up. And they probably won't have a choice because the upcoming 10 animated films just look awful (A Turtle's Tale, Mars Needs Moms, Hop...).

Overall, it's not bad but there was potential here to make something really original and unlike any other animated film out there. Alas, Verbinski goes the At World's End route and overloads his film with forced quirkiness and countless endless action sequences.

Next time, please let the Coen Brothers do it?

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