Rango: A Beautifully Animated Western Masterpiece

4 03 2011

Rango is Industrial Light & Magic’s first full-length feature animated film. Best known for its special effects work on some of the biggest blockbusters, ILM has been wowing audiences since its inception in 1975 and their work on the very first Star Wars movie. And Rango is no exception. Here’s the breakdown:

Rango is a lonely chameleon, unsure of who he is. His world is turned upside down when he finds himself unexpectedly in the dust-bitten town of Dirt. There he meets a cast of strange characters, desperately in need of a hero. Seeing an opportunity to be someone, Rango takes on the mantle of town savior – but it’s a bigger responsibility than he was anticipating.

The Monkey: It’s no surprise ILM has been the recipient of numerous Academy Awards for special effects. Rango is an animation masterpiece. From glittering scales to textured fur, the attention to detail is astounding. Hands down, this is the best animation of any film. Ever. If it weren’t for the stylized representations of the characters, the line between reality and animation would be all but indistinguishable.

Not only is Rango visually stunning; the story is engaging as well. Sure, it’s familiar – it’s the hero’s journey, through and through, that draws heavily from Western films (there’s even a “cameo” from the “Spirit of the West” himself, “Clint Eastwood”). But it works, especially because the screen is filled with characters, action scenes and visuals that have never been seen before. Couching an age-old story in an exciting package has always been a recipe for success (look at Avatar).

The voice talent was superb. Depp never fails to disappoint, and his thespian-inspired Rango was not only wonderfully tongue-in-cheek, but perfectly fitting for the overall story arc. Sporting an impressive talent list that includes Abigail Breslin, Isla Fisher, Alfred Molina, Ray Winstone, Timothy Olyphant and Bill Nighy, Rango pairs its above-par visuals with an above-par cast.

And a chase scene involving a wild javelina-drawn wagon and a squadron of dive-bombing bats? Epic.

The Weasel: While the film’s spiritual/allegorical threads add a certain maturity to the story, it’s a bit abrupt at times and slightly underdeveloped. It will most certainly go over the heads of younger viewers. On that note, parents should be forewarned: Rango is surprisingly adult at times and could scare or alienate youngsters.

Gore Verbinski weaves a masterful action/adventure with refreshingly mature themes and brilliantly stunning visuals. An animated film sure to become a classic.

4.5 Death Stars out of 5

What do you think? Does ILM have a future in animated films? Did you enjoy the more mature themes of the story? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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4 responses

16 03 2011
scarletsp1der

I enjoyed this film as well. It was quite interesting though to see all of the moments that went above the heads of the kids. A blend of appeal for the kids and the parents!

Glad you enjoyed it! Nice review!

17 03 2011
Dustin

Yeah, definitely not your typical kids’ movie! Glad ILM is getting props for this 🙂

21 03 2011
Libbie

Your review is right on, Dustin! We took a 10-year-old to see it this weekend, and she really enjoyed it, but did miss some of the nuances and quick wit. Heck, I’m pretty sure even I missed some of them. 🙂 And the harshness of the first 20 minutes was a bit jarring and gritty. Very well done. Very interesting. Totally entertaining. Thanks for your great reviews!

21 03 2011
Dustin

Glad you liked it! This will definitely be going my DVD collection 🙂

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