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Released: 27th July 2010

Directed By: Gore Verbinski

Starring: Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Alfred Molina

Certificate: PG

Reviewed By: Luke Walkley

From Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Vebrinski, comes the latest family animationRango. Starring Johnny Depp as the unlikely protagonist, Rango.

Set in the ‘Wild West’ Rango follows the story of a domesticated Lizard, Rango, who is accidentally thrown into a world he has never experienced. Used to filling his time acting using the inanimate objects in his tank as his fellow cast members, a series of unfortunate events leaves him in the middle of a road, surrounded by desert on all sides. Stumbling across a ‘town’ inhabited by various other animals, he becomes the unlikely hero after killing the Hawk that has terrorised the town in recent times. Given the role of Sheriff, Rango must try and solve the mystery of the vanishing water that threatens to wipe out the inhabitants of the town, all the while dealing with outlaw Rattlesnake Jake (Bill Nighy).

Rango was always going to be an interesting movie, the advertising for this film suggested the animation was going to be brilliant and the cast lined up was equally intriguing, The Pirates trio of Vebrinski, Depp and Nighy reuniting as well as the inclusion of Isla Fisher as Beans, the farmer’s daughter looking to save her livelihood, Ray Winstone as Bad Bill and Ned Beatty as the dubious mayor amongst others.

From the offset this is precisely the case, the animation is beautiful, so bright and vibrant it doesn’t need the depth perception ‘3D’ to make anything stand out. The characters are unique, in the same vain as  How To Train Your Dragon, you instantly fall in love with the main characters, heroes and villains alike. It’s not only the main characters that add a level of ingenuity to the film, the townspeople(consisting of numerous desert animals) create a perfect reincarnation of the spaghetti western towns made famous by Sergio Leone and Mr Eastwood, the objects used for buildings are reminiscent of films such as A Bugs Life where everyday items are used to create an environment unique to the film’s setting.

I know I have a tendency to mention this point a lot when I review animated films, but there are two types. Animated films for children (Alpha and Omega, Arthur and the Great Adventure etc) and then there are animated films that older generations enjoy just as much as the children, be it for the clever dialogue and jokes or in some cases the references to older films .
Rango is the latter, brilliantly designed for children to be transfixed, but full of some of the best placed and topical throwbacks I have seen in an animated film. References to films as obscure as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,  as well as the previously mentioned references to the Spaghetti Westerns, including one fantastic cameo/reference later on in the movie.

Depp’s swagger and charm is not lost in the character as I feared it may be, his role is perfectly complimented by Beans (Fisher) who, in similar style to Hayley Steinfeld of True Grit plays the straight talking woman who has her eyes on her mission, getting the water back to her farm. Rattlesnake Jake(Bill Nighy) is the typical badguy (Based on Lee Van Cleef,  a rattle snake, with a  machine gun for a rattle, obviously) however even this isn’t cheesy. It’s a clever choice of voice acting and mixes perfectly with the glorious animation and screenwriting.

The storyline even outdoes itself, numerous plot turns and a clever finale that works brilliantly with the atmosphere of the film. Rango is a fantastic creation and would not be too hard to spin off from. I for one, expect a sequel to follow in coming years, as there is so much scope for future storylines and with the animation team behind it, i’m sure it will look stunning.

Rango takes The Good, The Bad and the Ugly of the wild-west and creates a visually stunning and well crafted film.

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