Sploich Reviews Rango (2011)
Sploich - wrote on 03/06/11
I shutter to think that this is Gore Verbinski's first children's movie since the atrocity Mousehunt. Known for directing The Ring, and more prominently the Pirates of the Caribbean films, Verbinski has for a second time delved into a film with a younger demographic in mind. The only problem is that while something like Mousehunt needed stupid, childish humor to even attempt to save it from its awful premise, Rango really shouldn't have been dumbed down to that level.
During a road trip of some sort, a pet lizard is lost in a near-accident and he must find his way to civilization. He soon finds himself in the small, aptly named town of Dirt. He realizes in his new surroundings that he can create a new persona for himself and becomes Rango: The toughest sheriff in the West. From this point he sets out to protest and harvest water for the town, stop villains in their tracks, and make some friends along the way.
I mentioned the film being lowered to a less intelligent standard earlier. While there are several instances of lines and actions that were intended to keep the interest of young children, they are severely out of place. For the most part the film takes a much more mature stance with its material, having characters use guns and swear often. It compliments the somewhat deep protagonist and the courageous storyline. In the end, the dumber jokes aren't enough to take away from the story or the characters, but when watching the movie it feels painful to sit through those half-second moments.
To date I have not seen Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but it was a clear and obvious inspiration here. I don't know if this was complimented or inspired by the fact that they had Johnny Depp as the lead character. It works though, giving the film a bizarre feel but still grounding it to other inspirations such as Clint Eastwood's earlier films. In fact, without spoiling anything, probably the most disappointing thing about the film was that they didn't get Clint Eastwood to voice one particular character.
The animation is beautiful to watch. A lot of attention was paid to detail and the characters move very naturally. The cinematography, however, nearly ruins this. During action sequence, or even just more tense moments, there are way too many close-up shots. Almost all of the shots in the action sequences are "shot" so close and shaky that it's difficult to even make out what's going on. The action is okay but it's made very annoying to watch when this is going on.
Rango is fun, interesting film with a lot of heart and unique themes. While there are some jokes meant for little kids, there are enough gags and awesome character moments for their parents to be just as entertained. Think of it as a film similar in feeling to True Grit but that you can bring your kids to see with you.
Also, I wasn't really sure where to put this, but despite him only being in the last third of the film, Rattlesnake Jake is one of my new favorite characters from an animated film. Bill Nighy is awesome.