Director: Gore Verbinski
Starring the voices of: Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Ned Beatty, Alfred Molina, Billy Nighy, Ray Winstone, Ian Abercrombie, Abigail Breslin, Stephen Root, Timothy Olyphant
There’s a perk in avoiding trailers, previews and the numerous production notes studios constantly send a critic’s way. This theory was applied to the 107 minute “Rango.” For the only element this guy knew of was that Johnny Depp is voicing the lead lizard.
Aside from that, I was confused why no one handed me a pair of 3D glasses for my screening. Animations and 3D glasses frequently go together much like Jennifer Aniston and bad romantic-comedies join forces. Shockingly, this flick is just banking (literally) on its pristine CGI work, without relying on the overplayed gimmick of the new decade.
In putting a stop to the poor man’s comedy act and getting back to the perk topic, all yours truly kept thinking while watching this flick, is how similar this directing style and delivery of the story is so much like the “Pirates of the Caribbean” installments. Same likeable characters, same tongue-n-cheek action sequences. Along with very similar dialogue patterns. And what seals the deal on this likeness, a story that drags and sputters at multiple junctions (just like Dead Man’s Chest). So when the credits rolled, and one sees Gore Verbinski (director of the Pirate flicks) is at the helm and came up with the story…
Yep, this reviewer is still worth reading people.
Rango (voiced by Johnny Depp) is a lizard with no cause. He wants one, and if he had his choice, the world of thespians is where he would play. Upon having an epiphany, our average-intelligent lizard is freed from his pet status and left out in the desert. He immediately meets an armadillo who suggests he seek out the “Spirit of the West” (voiced by Timothy Olyphant), in finding his destiny. As the Hawaiian shirt wearing lizard braves hawks and the unbearable sun, he comes across a rodent named Beans (Isla Fisher). Beans in the prowl looking for elusive water. Her town of “Dirt” has gone dry and she suspects foul play. Hitching a ride with Beans, Rango realizes that nobody knows him in this ghost town of dusty rodents and fur-balls. After spinning some tales of his dangerous adventures, the town anoints him sheriff.
Sheriff Rango’s ego blows up, as he is worshiped and considered a legend by all the parched townspeople (uh, animals). The mayor of Dirt (voiced by Ned Beatty) befriends Rango and talks to him about his vision for the land that surrounds his town. Meanwhile, the town is tired of not having water in their bank and insists Rango track down the culprits who stole the reserve tank (water jug). Rango rounds up a posse – which is basically half the western-like town – and they have an adventure below and above ground, in trying to locate a new water source.
Look (or read), the animation is thoughtful and one of the better CGI jobs seen in the last year. Right up there with “How to Train Your Dragon” and “Toy Story 3” in that department. This one has seems to have a more sizeable amount of detail to monitor though. It was captured so well, that the wide-shots look as if humans are wearing costumes as they move about. So that element will keep one involved. Also keeping one involved, is the entertaining third act – when the posse takes a quest like journey. Everything from that point on is where the combo of fun and visually appealing effects are finally working together. Prior to that, the flick isn’t as comical as it should be. All the voice actors are into their characters, but the dialogue and splendid animation lacked creativity far too often in the first half of the flick.
Kids 6-and-under will be all into this. The rest of us will struggle too many times, despite the noble efforts of the script trying to deliver more adult-orientated humor to please all audiences. These moments can’t fully function because they’re not playing off the environment or the unique cast of rodents, lizards, amphibians, etc. Even the narrative Owl mariachi band that jumps in to address the audience, fails to bring it and/or enhance anything. There really isn’t anything bad to speak of, but the excitement levels are as lively as Kirk Douglas’ recent Oscar speech for a good portion of this story. Nice to see, but not all there.
Overall, “Rango” is kid pleaser and an adult teaser…In terms of pure entertainment. There’s something here to latch onto you, but how long one will want to hold on is suspect. When the second half of kicks in, the feeling of being entertained creeps back into your mind. Mechanically, the flick does not do anything wrong and the entire scope of animation justifies one spending their loot on this.
RATING: 3 out of 5
Review by Joe Belcastro