Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Overall Score: 7.75/10
To be absolutely honest, it's not very often that I find myself turned off by a commercial for a movie and then perform a complete 180 when I finally seek it out for an official viewing. If anything, it is far more often that I am drawn in by a commercial and then sulk into a darkened corner and rant when the final product is unveiled. So, it is always a pleasant surprise to find a movie which without caution sails past my lowered expectations, and finds a place high upon my shelf of entertainment.
Last year, that movie was How to Train Your Dragon. This year, the movie is Rango. And believe me, the commercials couldn't be worse with respect to what this film is trying to do. Combining elements of Star Wars and the Sergio Leone Spaghetti Westerns, whose connection might be less vague than you realize, with surrealism in the vein of Hitchcock/Dali's Spellbound, Rango is a mentally entrancing experience. An experience wrapped in the fragile shell of generic loner becomes hero, family stamped and approved storyline simplicity.
With more curious head turns than a Dancing With the Stars audience at a Higgs Boson seminar, Rango is a charming, lonely soul whose infectious stories and flamboyant mannerisms can take charge of any scene. Where many films deal only with surface level, external aspects of being lonely, Rango's is tackled internally, through the use of dream expositions. We see the power of a vivid imagination and dedication to a character, mixed in with the longing for friends who both appreciate, but also idolize you. You're not just good to them, you're the best to them. And in the case of Rango, that draw means more to him than even the most basic fundamentals of his personality.
Depp delivers a whimsical performance as the sporadic protagonist lizard, Rango. Rich in layers, and heavy on quirky, the character is T-ed up perfectly for Depp's cinematic persona. Ned Beatty continues racking up the villainous vocal roles transition from a cuddly teddy bear to the turtle mayor of Dirt. A straight forward, self-interested baddy whose evil ways rely more on Beatty's strong voice command than demonstrable action. And simply put, the movie couldn't handle much more characterization than that.
That's not to say Rango is without faults. Despite the high voltage action, the film Rango can be as unfocused as its titular star. It can turn a hilarious moment that will split the guts of audiences right into the kind of comedy you'd expect to find on some Saturday morning cartoon rehashing the same joke over and over. Taking the ride of Rango is like hoping on a beast of a roller coaster. When it's high, it's as high as any would dare go, but when it's low... well, let's just say the fall is steep, quick, and may involve nausea. But it is to the endless credit of the talent involved that those low moments are brief and far between, using every bit of inertia to keep the movie going up.
Gore Verbinski may have lost me on the last two pirate films, but he sold me hook line and sinker here. Rango is a pure enjoyment of a watch. Granted, its referential obsessions may be lost on those without the cinema knowledge to back it up. Seriously people, if you're over forty and didn't get that was Clint Eastwood, you need a good talking too!
Directed By - Gore Verbinski
Written By - John Logan
Addendum - Am I the only one who went 'oh come off it' when Music By Hans Zimmer rolled out into the credits? At least half the music in the movie was The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and the Harmonica theme from Once Upon a Time in the West.