Director Gore Verbinski has put together quite the filmography over the years. His first feature film was the family comedy Mouse-hunt, which he followed up with the R-rated action comedy The Mexican. He also jumped on the successful remake bandwagon before the trend really took off with The Ring. It was the Pirates of the Caribbean films that teamed the director with the hottest actor in Hollywood today; Johnny Depp. Perhaps it's because those films made over a billion dollars at the box office or because they just had fun working together or a little bit of both that Depp was chosen to voice a talking chameleon in Verbinski's bizarre yet spectacular animated adventure known as Rango.
Rango isn't your average animated film. That fact will become abundantly clear during Rango's opening monologue amongst his "friends." The film is actually more adult than any of the trailers let on. Within the first ten minutes of the film, Rango has a rather lengthy conversation with some fresh roadkill. In addition to that, the last half of the film is much darker than the first half. Maybe it's the countless number of bats with Gatling guns strapped to them, Rattlesnake Jake being one of the most menacing animated villains in years, the film using its fair share of both "hell" and "damn" quite a few times, the film not shying away from the use of nooses, or, God forbid, animated characters smoking, but Rango just doesn't feel like an everyday, run-of-the-mill film put out by Nickelodeon.
Rango also wears its western references on its sleeve. The old time saloons, tumbleweeds, stare downs before a gunfight, and a town's utmost desire for both a sheriff and something to believe in are proof of that. But perhaps it's Timothy Olyphant's cameo appearance as The Spirit of the West that is both the biggest homage to westerns you could possibly think of and the biggest surprise of the film (at least as far as his appearance goes). Well it's either that or the Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas reference. Both are equally amazing.
This has the atmosphere of an animated film that was made for adults. It's very off-balanced in the best kind of way, but a lot of the references and humor are sure to go over a child's head. Some of the characters in the film talk really fast (mostly just Rango and Beans at times) and while Rango is goofy enough to make the kids laugh, the subject content involving the town of Dirt certainly seems to be aimed towards a more mature sense of humor.
Rango is the first animated film from Industrial Light & Magic, the special effects company that did computer generated effects for the first three Star Wars films and the effects for the T-1000 in Terminator 2 among countless others. The film looks phenomenal. There were times when Rango looked like he was walking in an actual desert. While the characters weren't quite as detailed as the owls in Legend of the Guardians, they still looked incredibly realistic or as realistic as talking animals could possibly be.
Rango is one of the most eccentric animated films you'll ever have the pleasure of sitting through. Its homage to westerns combined with its explosive action sequences, an endless amount of hilarity, tender and sentimental moments that actually make you feel sorry for a talking lizard, and even a little bit of romance pretty much has all your bases covered as far as genres are concerned. Rango is a dark, witty, and entertaining ride that's also fairly mature for an animated film. All in all, Rango is easily the best movie of 2011 so far.
Watch Rango with your entire family, they don't make such movies more. This chameleon will set box-office on fire for sure.