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RANGO (2011)

>> Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Karma, karma, karma chameleon.

Johnny Depp is a weird guy - I mean that in the best of ways. We all know what he looks like when he's not in make-up as Jack Sparrow, Edward Scissorhands or The Mad Hatter. He seems very laid back and relaxed - yet he has this other side to him that allows him to pull off very unique and interesting performances. It's obvious why Tim Burton likes him and why Depp is today's go-to guy for the odd-ball characters that sometimes even land him an Oscar nomination. In something like Rango, it seems like Depp has once again successfully separated himself from the person he is off the screen and while you can recognize Rango's voice as Depp, it becomes very difficult to picture him saying the lines or if you've seen some of the behind-the-scenes footage - to see Depp acting the way he does while shooting.

Rango is about a pet lizard (a chameleon to be more exact) who has a passion for the theatre. Everything is just as he likes it until the car he's riding in the back of hits an armadillo in the middle of the desert and his glass tank flies out of his owner's car and he's left to fend for himself. That is until he finds the small town of Dirt - where apparently water shortage is an issue. Dirt is inhabited by all sorts of desert creatures - the most feared being a rattlesnake named Jake voiced by Bill Nighy (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Hot Fuzz).

After saving the inhabitants of Dirt from a a vulture (or something like that), the mayor (Ned Beatty, Toy Story 3) makes Rango the town Sheriff. All is good for a while for Rango until he discovers a secret plot to control the town's water - in turn controlling the town's people.

In an age where animated movies tend to turn to pop culture references in order to relate to the audience (and get another laugh or two), Rango is extremely refreshing in its originality. Besides more or less playing on the western genre and using a perfectly-fitting Clint Eastwood reference, this film is a wholly unique piece of work with some of the most original tones and pacing I've seen in a long time - animated or otherwise. All the performances are top notch and you get some really funny moments. I'm inclined to say this is an animated films adults will enjoy more than perhaps the kids will - due to the quirky nature of the humour, the subtle jokes and the slower and more odd moments.

Rango gets an open door. I believe this is a film that will appreciate over time and find its way onto the shelves and into the hearts with other animated classics. If you don't like westerns on the other hand, this may not be entirely for you - even then, it's a stretch to say you wouldn't enjoy yourself. The animation with Rango is some of the best you're likely to see in a while. Pay close attention to the lighting, and the flavor this film has within it's vibrant style. Definitely one to enjoy while it's still on the big screen if you can.

*Stills courtesy of Paramount Pictures


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