In an age where almost everything animated appears in 3D, Rango refreshingly does not opt for this route. Although the film is animated and rated PG, it is more likely to appeal to adults and older children rather than younger viewers.
Rango is a lonely chameleon who puts on plays with his toys to entertain himself. When Rango accidentally finds himself in the middle of the desert, he comes across the town of Dirt. Rango takes the opportunity to invent himself as a gun-slinging hero…
Directed by Pirates of the Caribbean‘s Gore Verbinski, Rango is not the typical animated feature. The film does not seem to fit the Pixar/Dreamworks mould of combining adventure, comedy, drama and romance. Instead, Rango is best described as a western. Given its characteristics, this category seems most appropriate. However, like a film such as Back to the Future Part III, Rango will sometimes adhere to conventions, and at other times play on the familiar archetypes present.
Given this western predilection then, it is perhaps unsurprising that Rango is more likely to entertain older audience members than the young children usually targeted by animated features. The film begins rather slowly, which won’t really entice youngsters with a short attention span. Moreover, those expecting a Disneyesque movie may be disappointed by Rango‘s offbeat style.
Although humour is present in Rango, it is a hard push to describe the film as hilarious. The comedy is more self-reflexive, with jokes about performing and genre that are likely to go over the head of some. Elsewhere the humour is quirky, with the film’s narrator becoming involved in the action, for example. The narrative is interrupted on two occasions with sequences that are interesting but bizarre. Nevertheless, they do not help in making Rango enthralling; the film lacks a good narrative.
The animation in Rango is sumptuous. Nickelodeon, ILM and the other production companies have done a fantastic job with the aesthetics. The detail in particular is amazing. Although animation tends to look better in 3D than live action generally, hopefully Rango‘s inevitable success will attest that not every new feature needs to be produced in three dimensions.
Rango features a host of famous names voicing the array of characters. Johnny Depp is suitably cast as Rango, although it is difficult to ever lose sight that it is Johnny Depp voicing the character. Isla Fisher is decent as Beans, as is Abigail Breslin as the very cute Priscilla. Ray Winstone and Bill Nighy meanwhile conform to their usual bad guy roles.
Rango is a fun movie, and something different to the usual big-budget animated fare. However, the film lacks the heart that would take it from enjoyable to amazing.