Rango – Review

Try this equation: animation + western + ILM = ? It all adds up to the newest animated feature from Nickelodeon called Rango.

Rango is about a chameleon who becomes an unlikely hero to the citizens of a town called Dirt. The movie starts out with Rango, voiced by Johnny Depp, enjoying a car ride with his owners across the Mojave Desert. The car hits an armadillo, named appropriately enough, Roadkill (Alfred Molina), and it throws Rango’s cage from the car stranding him in the desert. On his way to find water, he befriends Beans, voiced by Isla Fisher. She offers him a ride into town and while talking to her he starts to get an idea that there is something wrong with the town.

Upon his arrival, he is first treated like an outcast because the citizens don’t take kindly to strangers. Rango comes up with a plan to help the citizens with their various problems and this is what starts him on the journey to becoming the new sheriff and eventually the town hero. The town is out of water and someone is dumping what they have left in the desert. Rango, along with his new friends, form a posse and head out to follow the trail. Along the way he meets other characters including the mayor (Ned Beatty), villain Rattlesnake Jake (Bill Nighy), and the Spirit of the West (Timothy Olyphant).


The best characters though are the owls, that are made to look like a mariachi band, that help to narrate the film. The movie often returns to them for a musical summary about what Rango is doing or what to expect next. Los Lobos provides the singing  and offer a great form of comic relief in a sometimes serious movie.

This is Industrial Light & Magic’s first go at an animated feature, but it doesn’t show. The animation is amazing. I would have to say that Rattlesnake Jake and his six-shooter tail is by far the best piece of animation in the film. Also, even though the characters are all animals, the film has the live action look.¬† It really pulls you into the environment and makes you forget that you are essentially watching a cartoon.

Be warned: this movie is more for older kids and adults. Since it has a western theme there are gun fights, shady characters, some harsh language and yes, death. If you love westerns, like I do, then you will have a great time watching this. It might also be a great way to introduce your kids to the style of western movies that we love from long ago. Rango has a lot of the feelings that old John Wayne and Clint Eastwood films have.

The only bad criticism that I can think of would be that the movie is a little on the long side for an animated feature. Director, Gore Verbinski, easily could’ve cut ten to fifteen minutes out of the movie without taking away from the story. It clocks in at 107 minutes.

If this is they type of animated features that ILM is going to produce, then I say bring it on. I look forward to seeing what they come up with next.

Rango, starring Johnny Depp and Isla Fisher, rated PG, is now in theatres

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