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Rango

Posted : 9 months, 2 weeks ago on 7 January 2014 05:59

I mean this as the highest form of praise, but what the fuck is going on in Rango? It’s like taking acid then watching Once Upon a Time in the West. Needless to say, I adore every single minute of this bizarre, strange trip through spaghetti western tropes seen through the prism of an animated film that’s allegedly for children.

Rango plays on two levels, if I was much, much younger then it would play as a normal movie. It would simply tell its story, get me involved with the characters, have some funny jokes and bring some originality to my eyes by offering an antidote to the kiddie animals and singing princesses bumbling around in 3D. But since I’m a twenty-six-year-old adult viewing this film, it plays out like a kitsch-loving satire of Sergio Leone’s deconstructed epics, filled to the brim with bright colors and an imagination that has been missing from so many recent animated films. (Pixar hasn’t been batting a terribly high average since Cars, DreamWorks only hit it out of the park with How to Train Your Dragon, only Studio Ghibli consistently presents smart films which play well to both audiences.)

And it’s not just Leone’s films that get sent through this film’s warped perspective and arrive on the other side in distorted angles. Apocalypse Now, Chinatown, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas are just a few of the sight-gags and comic setups that I remember vividly. But it lovingly pokes fun at these movies, and while it’s a gonzo take on the western it’s clearly coming from a place of great admiration and love. The basic plot line could easily be borrowed from any of John Ford’s seminal classics, and numerous characters bare a resemblance to some famous cowboy. There’s a feast for your brain and eyes going on at the same time as you wash yourself in the gorgeous animation and laugh at the razor-sharp wit and satiric glee.

And, oh, what gorgeous visuals Rango possesses! Its characters are lovingly detailed, looking at once like photo-realistic lizards, rattlesnakes, vultures, turtles, rabbits and moles while still being highly stylized creations. It’s an impressive trick, and the animators pull it off incredibly well. I must admit, there was a point at which I did become incredibly uncomfortable watching Rango and look away from the screen. You see, I’m afraid of snakes, and the big bad in the movie is a rattlesnake. A giant, talking rattlesnake that likes to bare its fangs and ensnare our hero in its scaly body, and this freaked me out. I can only imagine how scared some kids must have been watching this character slither upon the screen. Yet still, the animation was beautifully done as he throws all the weight of his body this way and that with a weight and force that seems incredibly detailed and believable.

When you think about it, it makes perfect sense that Johnny Depp is the central role. His lizard is a former household pet with daydreams about being an actor who accidentally finds himself in the desert, then in the western, stumbles into being the hero and continually recreates his identity and backstory as he falls into ever larger and crazier lies. His western hero is a self-made part, the role of a lifetime, and Depp finds all of these colorful shades in his vocal tics. Supporting him are a great bunch of actors – Ned Beatty doing a John Huston impression that’s all honeysuckle charm and lurking menance, Harry Dean Stanton, Abigail Breslin, Isla Fisher, Alfred Molina, Ray Winstone, Timothy Olyphant, Bill Nighy and Stephen Root. Look at that tony cast! It’s a fantastic group of character actors finding the creepy, campy undertones in these characters and playing the hell out of them.

Perhaps Rango is more of an adult animated feature masquerading as a children’s film parodying westerns? It’s hard to describe, and maybe I’m just more wrapped up in the sheer giddy weirdness of the whole thing, but I think American animated films could use more adult, more weird and wild films like this. I say the unending sequels which dry the creative wells and tarnish the reputation of the beloved first film need to stop. We need more daring and bizarre voices in the field and within the past decade or so, more of those voices appear to be making themselves heard. So thank god for films like Rango. Just don’t ruin it and make a sequel.

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Confusing but decent

Posted : 10 months ago on 19 December 2013 09:08

'Pirates of the Caribbean' was directed by Gore Verbinski, he then directed an animated movie with Johnny Depp in it called 'Rango' about a chameleon who ends up in a town called Dirt which needs a new sheriff

Confusing but decent, 'Rango' is a well animated movie with a fine voice performance by Johnny Depp and a good story and some awesome action!

Rattlesnake Jake runs Rango out of town after humiliating him and making him admit that everything he told the town about himself is a lie.

But then Rango returns and becomes a hero getting rid of the Mayor! Hurray! And we just can't forget Senor Flan, the hilarious narrator

In one scene, Rango changes colours which is something that Randall does in 'Monsters Inc.', that's because they're both chameleons! Kids, that is why they have a unique power!

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Rango review

Posted : 2 years, 11 months ago on 16 November 2011 03:45

Un camaleonte che si crede un attore, e che trascorre la sua vita dentro un piccolo acquario in compagnia di una bambola rotta e qualche altro giocattolo, finisce fuori dell’auto su cui stava viaggiando, nel desertico confine fra Stati Uniti e Messico. Catapultato nel mondo reale, fra i pericoli scaturiti dagli uomini e quelli della natura, raggiunge Dirt, una cittadina popolata da tartarughe, rospi, lucertole, iguane e serpenti. Anche grazie alla sua capacità affabulatoria, riesce a mettersi in luce e a conquistare la gente del luogo, calandosi nel ruolo di Rango, un leggendario pistolero. Il problema che funesta la città però, al di là dei soliti criminali, è la siccità, che rischia di costringerli tutti ad abbandonare la frontiera.
Nei desolati paesaggi desertici e nelle polverose strade di Dirt, pulsa un cuore da western puro, uno dei migliori che si siano visti di recente al cinema, con tanto di ladri, saloon, cavalcate sotto il sole, e duelli all’ultimo sangue. Un atto d’amore appassionato allo spirito libero e alla leggenda americana del vecchio west, incarnato da uno spirito divino. Un omaggio in special modo all’immaginario degli spaghetti western, che in qualche caso si tinge di parodia, e che ne padroneggia al meglio gli elementi distintivi. Ma dietro quest’impianto di genere, brillano spunti sociali ed ecologici molto attuali, nonché una sorprendente riflessione sul ruolo dell’eroe. Rango è infatti un film che non si limita ad intrattenere, ma che propone tutta una serie di situazioni che lo rendono adatto ad un pubblico maturo, mentre gli spettatori più piccoli possono godere dei numerosi aspetti comici. Come un film della Pixar, va oltre i confini che solitamente ci si aspetta da un cartone animato, scavando più in profondità nei personaggi, sperimentando modelli narrativi inconsueti. Ma Rango compie ancora un passo in avanti, negando il classico ritorno a casa finale. La vita cambia, e spesso non si torna indietro.

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Rango review

Posted : 3 years ago on 21 October 2011 11:36

Guarda cosa tocca fare per vedere un western. Anzi, un riassunto di tutti i western, perché ‘Rango’ è un lungo omaggio alla Frontiera – con una spiccata predilezione per la declinazione spaghetti del verbo, a dire il vero (non ci vuol molto a indovinare a chi assomiglia lo ‘spirito del West’). Ma parlare solo di citazioni e rimandi (anche al di fuori del genere) sarebbe fare un torto al film, molto bello di suo. La storia è quella di un camaleonte da negozio (ma con aspirazioni artistiche) che viene catapultato dagli eventi in un polveroso villaggio – che in italiano si chiama ‘Polvere’, ma in orignale ‘Dirt’ – dove non c’è più acqua: la ricerca del prezioso liquido, oltre a richiamare una tematica ambientale molto attuale, va di pari passo con l’autoaffermazione del protagonista. La ricerca di se stessi, lo straniero che arriva in città, la redenzione dopo la caduta sono in fondo altri luoghi tipici del racconto western e qui vengono svolti con scioltezza e spigliata fantasia spostandosi senza che si avvertano frizioni tra passato e presente, realtà (insomma…) e sogno. Il protagonista ha la voce di Johnny Depp (in originale e anche nel doppiaggio) e il fatto che molte scene siano state girate con gli attori e solo in un secondo tempo realizzate in animazione fa sì che ogni tanto scappi qualche atteggiamento o intonazione alla Jack Sparrow: del resto il regista è lo stesso della saga dei ‘Pirati dei Caraibi’. Di quest’ultima, il film ripresenta il mix di avventura e comicità con l’aiuto di un buon numero di personaggi – animali antropomorfi delineati con cura – che interagiscono con il sedicente Rango incarnando tutti i tipi del cinema di genere. Il risultato finale è un film forse più adatto agli adulti che ai bambini – specie a quelli più piccoli, se non altro per le fattezze per niente affascinanti dei personaggi – ma che regala cento minuti di divertimento colorato e avvincente.

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Looks great, but it's hit-and-miss

Posted : 3 years ago on 9 October 2011 05:48

"Stay in school, eat your veggies, and burn all the books that ain't Shakespeare."


Rango can best be described as a loving animated spoof-cum-ode to classic Spaghetti Westerns, most notably those directed by the iconic Sergio Leone. And the influences run deeper than that - while director Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean 1-3) clearly channelled Leone, composer Hans Zimmer was obviously influenced by Ennio Morricone, and the film also parodies aspects of the 1966 western Django. And if that isn't enough pedigree for a mainstream animated movie, the voice cast includes the likes of Johnny Depp, Alfred Molina, Bill Nighy, Stephen Root, Timothy Olyphant and Ray Winstone, not to mention Rango is the animated feature debut of Industrial Light and Magic (ILM). For those unfamiliar with ILM, they are one of the top-tier pioneers of cinematic special effects, so it's hardly surprising that Rango is the best-looking animated movie to date. It's a bit of a shame, then, that John Logan's script is hit-and-miss.



After accidentally falling off the back of a car, a cloistered chameleon (Depp) is abandoned in the vast, scorching expanses of the Mojave Desert armed with nothing but a passion for acting. His dramatic chops soon prove useful, however, when he stumbles upon the drought-stricken town of Dirt and manages to convince the town's denizens (an array of desert creatures, ranging from toads to rodents of all shapes and sizes) that he's in fact a dangerous gunslinger named Rango. Through a series of standoffs in which Rango accidentally comes out on top, the desperate townsfolk see the wily lizard as their saviour, and he's tasked with the role of sheriff as they battle a water shortage problem. During this, a romantic interest for Rango emerges in the form of desert iguana Beans (Fisher), and secrets are gradually revealed involving the shady dealings of the town's corrupt mayor (Beatty).


As evidenced in at least the first Pirates of the Caribbean production, Verbinski is a terrific action director. Consequently, Rango comes alive during the breathtaking action beats, including a delightful set-piece involving giant bats that hilariously parodies the Flight of the Valkyries aerial assault from Apocalypse Now. Rango may be ILM's first animated feature, but the George Lucas-founded studio have nailed it right out of the gate - their decades of special effects experience have translated to a succulent visual feast guaranteed to impress even the most curmudgeonly of movie-goers. Each frame bursts with immense artistry and vitality, easily topping motion-capture movies like A Christmas Carol and The Polar Express in terms of both realistic movement and detail. The character designs impress too, as the lizards and rodents actually look somewhat cute and cuddly. Acclaimed cinematographer Roger Deakins (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, 2010's True Grit) was even hired as a visual consultant, and his cinematographic instincts clearly benefitted the movie to a tremendous extent, resulting in sweeping shots of desert vistas and dynamic photography during the action sequences.



But Rango is a strangely mixed bag. While it looks gorgeous, it suffers from poor pacing, which is likely a direct cause of Verbinski's inexperience with animation. The story (reminiscent of Roman Polanski's 1974 film Chinatown) is very thin and familiar, and there was no reason to pad it out to an unreasonable 110-minute runtime. The pictures invigorates from time to time, but the dialogue is frequently flat and the movie often feels as if it's on autopilot. A film like this should be infused with high energy levels to keep the pace brisk, but Rango unfortunately meanders. Most problematic is when the titular character is taken seriously and pathos emerges in an attempt to introduce themes and messages. Ultimately, though, such material feels forced and unearned in what should be a fluffy, easygoing comedy. It also doesn't help that the overzealous quirkiness of the material grows old quickly.


On a more positive note, the voice cast is pitch-perfect from top to bottom. Leading the pack is the always-reliable Johnny Depp, who essentially married his Captain Jack Sparrow and Hunter S. Thompson personas to create the endearing titular chameleon. While it's disappointing to see Depp starring in more safe, high-profile studio releases than daring indie pictures, you can never accuse Depp of delivering a lazy performance; he is 100% dedicated to every role he undertakes, and Rango is no exception. Another standout is Ned Beatty as the mayor of Dirt; his performance gives a credible, sinister edge to the morally dubious role. Bill Nighy pops up momentarily as well, and his menacing vocal performance as Rattlesnake Jake sounds very similar to his work as Davey Jones in the first two Pirates of the Caribbean sequels. Timothy Olyphant also appears briefly to voice what is essentially Clint Eastwood's Man with No Name character. Astonishingly, Olyphant sounds somewhat like a young Eastwood. Isla Fisher and Abigail Breslin are in the cast too, and both of them are strong in their respective female roles. Various other names also loaned their talents to the movie, and suffice it to say all of them are solid.



For the most part, children are likely to be delighted by Rango. When it doesn't plod, there's enough visual artistry to keep them enthralled, and there are a number of fun set-pieces as well. But it's merely good instead of great - it was clearly meant to be a comedy, but laughs are too occasional and the pacing is too uneven.

6.6/10



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Rango review

Posted : 3 years, 4 months ago on 17 June 2011 12:34

First of all: It's a metaphor. Secondly, it's not what it appears to be -- a kid's movie. It's also the funniest, kookiest, most inventive thing I've seen since...well I can't remember, but an awful long time. Johnny Depp voices the title character, a pet terrarium lizard who is suddenly bounced into a strange and savage desert world. He then embarks on a classic hero's quest, equal parts Dali, Castaneda, and Hunter S. Thompson -- surreal, hallucinatory, philosophical, full of darkness and absurdity. Full of wink-wink sidetracks and references (oblique and not so much) to other films. The soundtrack is fabulous too, a combined effort between Los Lobos and Hans Zimmer. Highly recommended if you like any or all of the ingredients I've mentioned. Definitely for adults and not kids. It contains profanity etc. but that's not the main reason -- I think the ideas, style, imagery and humor are just too much for most kids. The movie is intense, the themes are dark and the main villain could be terrifying to small children. I love all these elements, but they could easily add up to a less than enjoyable experience for youngsters.

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Rango review

Posted : 3 years, 6 months ago on 1 April 2011 05:43

Reminds me of me. Sometimes you got to make up your stories on the fly to keep yourself out of trouble. Although it can come back and bite you!

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Rango review

Posted : 3 years, 6 months ago on 27 March 2011 03:46

This movie was hilarious. It was *almost* as strange as Fantastic Mr. Fox. Try explaining this movie to your friends, they'll think you're making it up. It's a hilarious Western/Comedy that's full of laughs. The Clint Eastwood scene (I am aware it wasn't actually him) was the funniest thing I've seen in a long time. It's great for kids and adults, not for really young kids though. A must see for anyone who likes a good laugh.

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Rango review

Posted : 3 years, 7 months ago on 18 March 2011 10:45

This was an ok movie. If it wasn't for my girlfriends daughter or my niece and nephew I would of never of watched this movie. It's ok to see once expecially if you have kids, theyll love it

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A good movie

Posted : 3 years, 7 months ago on 5 March 2011 07:30

To be honest, I really had no idea what to expect from this flick. Indeed, nowadays, the market for CGI animated features is pretty much saturated and it didn’t seem to be the best gamble for a director like Gore Verbinski to experiment with this genre when the competition is already pretty intense. Eventually, it was actually pretty successful and it even won the Academy Award for the Best Animated Film (there was no Pixar feature nominated so that could explain a lot). Personally, I thought it was indeed pretty good and I was above all impressed by the animation. Indeed, wow ! This was a really gorgeous animated picture ! Only for this, it was worth watching it and, in my opinion, it looked much better than all those crappy 3D animated movies I have seen in 2010 or ever since. Unfortunately, the story was not that great at all but it was entertaining enough and I still laughed a couple of times. The point is that they had this great main character, a pretty cool setting but that’s it, they didn’t went further and that was rather underwhelming. Still, I had a good time watching this, it looked great and it is definitely worth a look, especially if you like the genre.

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