Monday, 7 March 2011

'Rango' Review

'Rango' (dir: Gore Verbinski, 2011), Cert: PG

Mega box-office blitzer Gore Verbinski has left behind Captain Jack Sparrow but has clung onto Johnny Depp for his first animated feature, ‘Rango’. Now as many know I am obsessed with animated cinema and after heaps of praising reviews, I was certainly excited for this picture, but did it succeed?
 Rango (voiced by Depp) is an ordinary chameleon who, after a driving incident is flung from the back of a vehicle and left alone out on the open road. A short while later he reaches the town of Dirt which is currently in a state of crisis. The town’s water supply is dramatically fading causing local industry to collapse and leaving dozens thirsty and weak. The town is also in desperate need of a sheriff to restore order and hope amongst the locals. Rango becomes that sheriff and promises to discover the reasoning behind the drought. Joined by locals including the quick-witted and tough girl, Beans (voiced by Isla Fisher), Rango sets out on an epic wild-west adventure that will change the fate of Dirt forever.
 ‘Rango’ is certainly an interesting picture; it’s subject matter is relevant to our current financial and sociological climate, it’s characters are developed and contain multiple traits of many politicians currently under the public eye, and as a piece of animated cinema, it’s an outstanding triumph, and yet there’s still something missing; excitement.
 For me this film was exactly like the experience I had watching ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’ (2009); visually it’s impeccable but it lacks any real interest or intrigue. ‘Rango’ is a stunning spectacle that rivals the works of Pixar and DreamWorks, it’s action sequences are mind-blowing and it’s 2D viewing was a pleasure rather than wearing those silly glasses and paying more, but it’s narrative is so clunky and slow that it made it a rather dull picture overall, plus it had the same ridiculously adult dialogue like ‘Mr. Fox’; in-depth conversations about philosophy and financial equity are hardly what are needed in a family picture. I’m pretty sure children will be bored for the majority of this too. In my screening, a child was so bored that he decided to fake burp for 5 minutes out loud and not one audience member told him to be quiet, they just laughed at him; doesn’t make the film sound particularly fun does it?
Still from 'Rango' (dir: Gore Verbinski, 2011)
 Another thing I found troubling about the film was a dream sequence in which Rango meets ‘The Spirit of the West’ which is actually an animated version of Clint Eastwood as ‘The Man with No Name’ from the ‘Dollars’ trilogy. The animated Clint looks so much like him it’s disturbing and the joke seems so wasted because the majority of children won’t understand the character, and if the adults are like me, they will probably be more puzzled by it than pleased.
 It’s not all bad though; apart from the tremendous animation, ‘Rango’ sports a great and varied voice cast including Bill Nighy, Ned Beatty, Alfred Molina, and Abigail Breslin, plus it has a group of owls who play guitar and sing throughout the picture which is refreshing and fun.
 This is an utter ‘Marmite’ film for me, much like ‘Mr. Fox’ was; there’s enough to make me appreciate it and I’m thankful for that, but ultimately, I’d be lying if I said I had a great time watching ‘Rango’ because I didn’t, I had an average time. This is certainly not a bad animated film, in fact it’s one of the best looking films I’ve seen for a while, but as a narrative film it fails by getting too wrapped up in its adult thematic and forgetting that it’s supposed to be a fun and light-hearted piece of entertainment.

It’s visual heaven and narrative hell, and I’m in cinematic purgatory. Stick to pirates Gore.
By Chris Haydon

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