I honestly don’t know how to hate on this movie. It’s a film, set in modern times, where when this creature roams off into the desert he finds this small town that happens to exist as if it’s still the wild west. Lars, who’s the crazy character, decides that once he’s entered this town to reinvent himself and decides to call himself Rango (Johnny Depp) and create this entire back story of how he’s the greatest gunslinger you’ve ever heard of. With this, and a bit of luck with a hawk, he manages to find himself to be the town’s official hero, and sheriff. Soon enough he finds himself in trouble when he actually has to do something to save the town during this water crisis.
The film is beautiful and each character is so well detailed that I almost hate to classify this movie as an animated film. Gone are the days when animators were able to brush over character nuances and details just because of the limitations of traditional hand drawn animation, or computer limitations of a decade ago. These characters pop in a way that’s never been done before and after last year’s How To Train Your Dragon surprises with critics I’m sure that for years to come Pixar will find it more and more difficult to hold their crown as animation kings in Hollywood.
The mode of storytelling is always very important to how a film is presented. This film could easily be seen as any other narrative film where we’re an observer of this story being told. However, with the introduction of this band of narrators (played by a Mexican band) I see it all as the legendary tale of Rango, which also leads me to buy into how ridiculously over the top all the characters (especially Rango) are. Legends are taken a bit out of context all the while because if you enhance certain details of a story it always becomes just a bit more interesting, and after you’ve told the tale a hundred times you realised which aspects of the tale you want to highlight more and more until it becomes this legendary tale of how one man brought a desperate town back from its harsh times and saved it from collapsing.
I think what made this movie move from an enjoyable kids film into one of the most fun Western experiences of the year so far for me was one little scene. I don’t want to spoil too much, but if you’ve seen most iconic western films then you’ll know what’s coming and you’ll know what I’m talking about if you’ve seen the film. It involves an actor that if you say the word western just appears in your head as the image of cowboy and is voiced by the actor of our generation who I think was genetically engineered to fill the void that will be made the moment he leaves this earth. As he says in the film, “You can’t walk away from your own story.”
With that said though, I still had a few issues with the movie. I felt it hinged too much on Johnny Depp’s now trademarked widely overly insane acting that we’ve seen him do from Pirates of the Caribbean, a film that Gore Verbinski also directed. It makes me wonder if Verbinski is going to have to always depend on a character like Rango or Capt. Jack Sparrow to keep his films popping into the mainstream or if he can actually make a realistic drama, but do we need more of those anyways?
I also wasn’t a fan of how much the film had to tell me what it was going for. In the opening scenes of the movie, when Rango was just in his little cage, he’s entertaining himself by acting with all of these inanimate objects. During this scene he has an epiphany as to why he can never fall in love with the story he’s telling. It’s because his character lacks conflict. The story needs an ironic event or action to occur that propels the hero into action that makes him be better than he already is. Then an ironic event – his world being shattered and falling off the back of a car – and is propelled into the western town of Dirt helps push his character to be better than he really is. I think that there were about five or so of these moments in the film where it told you what a story has to do then does it which was a bit annoying but not a deal breaker in the end.