This week Johnny Depp and Gore Verbinski team up again for another wild ride — only this time they’re tackling an animated world with their latest creation Rango. This is one of those films that takes a number of wild risks along the way but succeeds in almost all of them. It’s safe to say that their was no lack of imagination or attention to detail that went into this film, despite its few problems…
- Director: Gore Verbinski
- Screenplay: John Logan
- Story: John Logan, Gore Verbinski, James Ward Byrkit
- Actors: Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Ned Beatty, Alfred Molina, Bill Nighy
- Animation Director: Hal T. Hickel
- Original Music by: Hans Zimmer
A very Johnny Depp like chameleon finds himself trapped in the desert and before he knows it he is playing the role of the unexpected hero of a nearby town giving him a new sense of purpose in live — the only problem is can he keep up the act long enough to save his fellow critters from bandits, corrupt politicians and more? Is playing the part enough? Or will he have to become it?
- The Beginning: The film starts off with a band as ww are immediately thrown into Rango’s unique world. We’ve got ourselves some action, plenty of comedy, even some self-deprecation from the filmmakers, and then a metaphorical conundrum to get us pondering — success! After the first 20 minutes of this film I was sold, I’d seen enough to leave me satisfied, or so I thought… More on that later. Let’s concentrate on the good.
- The Look: It so nice to see an animation that’s like no other. Much in the way that Tim Burton broke boundaries with Nightmare Before Christmas, this film takes an equally large step but in a very different way. This film is dry, dirty, sometimes almost color-less, our lead character has tiny eyes instead of big round ones — honestly I’ve never seen an animation quite like this and it was so much fun to sit there and take it all in. It gives new life to this genre and shows us that not being perfect is sometimes the best thing you can do! Which conveniently goes quite well with the moral of the story.
- The References: Much in the way Quentin Tarantino references a number of movies he loves within his own, Gore squeezes in as many references as he can from Chinatown to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (turns out it wasn’t bats Depp was swatting it was his future lizard self!). The thing about Tarantino is that he’s one of the only directors that can reference a movie and yet still have it be his own thing — this film was very much pointing out other films, not quite incorporating them the way that Tarantino does BUT I have to say I love that those kind of references are being made in an animation that kids will see.
- The Little Moments: From the amazing Mariachi band to the way Rango’s eyes dart around and his broken neck, there are a number of small details in this film that make it worth seeing. There was so much time and effort put into all of these characters it’s hard not to love them.
- The Length: The biggest problem of this film is its length. I’m not sure if Gore just LIKES lengthy films, but the runtime much like in his last Pirates film — the length just begins to weigh down everything you see in front of you and it begins to feel like you’re just moving from one set piece to another for now real reason…
- Too Much: At the end of the second act you realize that the mission that they’re on doesn’t actually push the story forward and it begins to feel like they’re just throwing everything into the fire. I guess it’s nice to have a big action sequence at that stage of the film, but when it doesn’t really the story forward and in fact, gives us a whole new obstacle to over-come, the story ends up taking away from the charm that made the film so great in the beginning.
Less is more in a film like this. The small moments, the intricate style choices, the texture of the clothing, the colors of the scenes, the well thought out one-liners, the characters development and the abstract metaphorical ideas are what make this an amazing film despite the fact that they story runs away with itself and doesn’t do justice to all the work put into this film.
This film begins by taking a huge risk and widely succeeds, but then regresses and becomes another action, adventure tale. If they just could have tightened up the story and been able to stick with the original concept, this film would have been one of the greatest films I’ve ever seen. Instead, it was good. Maybe this is because they felt it needed to “appeal to broader audiences” or maybe it’s what they meant to make.
But! I’ll take a film that touches on greatness over one that never tries to do so any day. So my recommendation — go for it.
Rango hits theaters on March 4, 2011.