Rango movie poster
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Rango movie poster

Rango Movie Review

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The director of Pirates of the Caribbean and Johnny Depp reunite for yet another blockbuster, this one an animated western about a chameleon that can best be described as a family friendly acid trip amalgam of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, A Fistful of Dollars, City Slickers and the strange "dream" sequence from the second or third Pirates movie. If that sounds crazy to you, Rango is, but Rango is also one of the better movies of the year.

Depp stars as the title character, a city dwelling chameleon who finds himself stranded in the desert. He stumbles across a dying town nearly devoid of water, its inhabitants desperate for the liquid. After accidentally killing one of the town's biggest menaces, he is crowned sheriff - and soon discovers that the lack of water is not due to natural events.

I am not a drug user, but Rango is like some satisfying fix of what I cannot describe. The plot is both straightforward and completely zany, full of Native American spirit walks, dream sequences, inner monologues and other weird stuff you just don't see in family movies. I'm pretty sure Verbinski, James Ward Byrkit and writer John Logan (Gladiator, The Last Samurai and Sweeney Todd) all got high one night and developed the story while journeying through a far off place in their heads.

I'll have what they're having.

Rango is just absurdly good and original, easily the year's best animated film. With Pixar's Cars 2 a critical failure, Rango should be considered the frontrunner for best animated movie of the year at this point. The writing is pitch perfect, the story incredibly captivating and the nonstop action exhilarating and complex.

I typically don't give a lot of credit to big name voice talent - usually I find the presence of a big star to be more beneficial to the film's marketing than anything else - but Rango is a quintessential Johnny Depp movie, extremely odd yet equally accessible.

The visual effects are also stunning. The animators deserve credit for delivering a shockingly detailed and rich environment that looks and feels real. Each character is unique and beautifully drawn. Combined with Verbinski's direction, the film keeps you on the edge of your seat. It should be noted that this is the first animated film produced by Industrial Light & Magic.

I earlier described Rango as family friendly. It is, ultimately, a PG-rated film the whole family can enjoy. That being said, the movie does deal with death, and given the visual effects, some of the villains - especially a rattlesnake with a machine gun attached to its tail - could be pretty scary to smaller children.

Still, Rango is a fun film with a plethora of crazy antics. Kids will fall in love with the zaniness of it all, and the breakneck pace, while adults will also appreciate the multitudes of inside jokes and references to other movies (including several of the movies I mentioned above). Highly recommended.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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