Starring (the voices of): Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Timothy Olyphant, Bill Nighy, Abigail Breslin, Alfred Molina, Ned Beatty, Ray Winstone
Director: Gore Verbinski
Writer(s): John Logan, Gore Verbinski, James Ward Byrkit
Cinematography: John Bell
Original Score: Hans Zimmer
Running Time: 107 Mins.
Rango marks itself out as something of an anomaly, first and foremost it is by no means a “kids” film, despite what the distributors would have us believe, never pandering to cutesy visuals (more on then later) or (modern) pop culture references. Make no mistake however that it IS packed to the brim with references that not one child will understand let alone or appreciate as much as a film such as this is deserving of, in fact Rango proves to be a marvel on so many levels it really is hard to know where to start with the full plethora of joys only fully appreciated upon multiple viewings and if this isn’t a cinema hit (which it surely will be given Depp’s involvement) it deserves to go down in the echelons of film history with such great oddities as The Big Lebowski and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
I do not name check the latter of those two idly, for it is a film that is literally given its own visual joke and a very, very funny one at that, this occurs in the film’s opening ten minutes. Thankfully thick and fast as the nods to cinema come they are interwoven into a plot that embraces that all too often neglected genre, the western while tipping its narrative hat too Chinatown specifically…so you see where I’m going with the “not for kids” tag. It is not other films that get borrowed from with admiration but also the western as a genre in general there is even an appearance by The Man With No Name (brilliantly voiced by Timothy Olyphant), the story is told straight though there is comedy (and lots of it) something which is helped no end by characters you can believe in despite being a menagerie of creatures from chameleons to snakes by way of moles and cats amongst others.
Brought to life with two key ingredients, inspired voice acting and quite literally the most sumptuous and visually stunning film to hit screens (dare I say) ever! As I said before these are not cutesy moles they are bling, smelly lookin’, nasty little creatures who will do anything to steal the films macguffin (water). But the moles are just the start, each and every character has their own look that is so detailed and unique I would dread to think how long this film has been in production, this kind of intricacy comes not from a flash in the pan idea. I want to single out Depp as the star of the show, and he is figuratively speaking, but everyone plays their part to the same level of excellence with Nighy standing out as one hell of a scary snake “gun for hire” rattlesnake Jake.
Kudos though to Depp for finding yet another fresh take on a character inside him, Rango is just plain funny but you will likely find that all important heart in there too rooting for him every step of the way despite his (many) mistakes! Amidst the fantastic characters and enough film references to make any film-lover weak at the knees are two elements that help raise the bar just that bit higher…the action set pieces and some of the funniest, and on the knuckle, lines to have ever come from an animated characters mouth! The key sequence in terms of action must be the moles ascending on Rango and his posse on the back of bats, the Apocalypse Now references will be lost on anyone under the age of 18 (or older even) but the beauty here is that between the sumptuous visuals and quirky humour (Verbinski did give us Pirates of the Caribbean after all) there is something for everyone, even if adults will be a little more spoilt!
Ultimately Rango proves to be somEthing of a shock, I use to adore Depp but was tiring of his quirks a tad however here he gives us a character who is without a doubt of the Depp eccentricities yet he is subtle and rounded enough to be mOre than just a mere cipher or quirk as he was as the Hatter or in the risible and later Pirates films. So to bring me full circle there were two things marking Rango out as an anomaly, the second which I have yet to mention is the lack of 3D. I can safely say that the visuals here best anything 3D can ever possibly give us, bright, detailed and enriched with every other type of depth you could want, emotional, artistic and yes visual depth that only a 2D image can provide in all its vibrant colour palette…quite simply a joy.
Rango is unique amongst films, not in a quirky, trying too hard way but in a genuinely outstanding in every sense way. extremely funny, beautifully made and presented and displaying an amazing amount of heart with a genuine feel of a film made for film-lovers by film-lovers… it doesn’t get any better than this.