Directed by Gore Verbinski
Written by John Logan
Animated films are a joy to watch, even as an adult. Many times the filmmakers make some pop culture references or more adult jokes to cater to the adults who take their children to see animated films. Sometimes they are some of the best crafted films released, take Pixar for instance with its stellar record (Wall-E, Up, Finding Nemo, etc.). The western is also a great genre that has been seeing somewhat of a renaissance in Hollywood of late with such films as “There Will Be Blood”, “No Country for Old Men”, and “True Grit”.
So what happens when you mix the two genres, get Gore Verbinski, best known as the man behind the Pirates of the Caribbean series, to direct the film, and Johnny Depp to star? You get the aberration that is Rango. You also get a pretty entertaining film.
The film opens on the lead character, Rango (voiced by Johnny Depp), hosting his very own thespian play, searching for the identity of his character. Then, all of a sudden, the car of his owner is involved in a fender bender in the middle of the desert and Rango, a lizard, finds himself on the side of the road with no friends, no owner, and no water. His life is turned upside down. He soon runs into a desert creature, Ms. Beans (Isla Fisher), who guides him into town where he creates the character of Rango to fit in and appear tough. He becomes the sheriff of the town and finds himself in the middle of a water crisis. Rango rounds up a posse of companions and starts the search for the culprit behind a water robbery. The search results in a daring adventure and provides Rango with the inspiration to perhaps finally find his character.
Verbinski and screenwriter John Logan create such a unique and creative world for an animated film to unfold. There are clear references to great Italian director Sergio Leone and his famous spaghetti westerns as well as musical cues picked up from the great musical scores of Ennio Morricone by composer Hans Zimmer. Johnny Depp is so fun to watch/listen to, as is the rest of the voice cast. But what sets Depp apart is his witty verbosity which just drips charm off the screen.
The film is funny, smart, mature and beautiful to look at. Although the plot is simple enough for a child to be able to follow, it is also complex enough to leave the mature viewer satisfied. Earlier, the word aberration was used to describe the film, and that is just what it is. Never have you seen a film like this, but with the success of Rango, the style may start popping up in more films. It is unconventional for a mainstream animated film in almost every way, and that is why Rango is such a breath of fresh air.