Rango is a pet chameleon always on the lookout for action and adventure, except the fake kind, where he directs it and acts in it. After a car accident, he winds up in an old western town called Dirt. What this town needs the most is water, but they also need a hero and a sheriff. The thirsty Rango instantly takes on the role of both and selfishly agrees to take on the case of their missing water.
You’ve got to love London Tube’s ads of the movies. During the year, all the movies that were advertised in the underground were great – think Drive, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Hugo, Artist. It may be that good movies have impressive budgets and can afford buying the space underground, or it may be that the Tube workers are actually critics who choose the film adverts on the merit of the film. Whatever the reasoning, Rango was advertised quite a while ago, and yes, in my opinion it is the best animation of 2011.
Rango has a very simple, straightforward storyline, mainly for children, the usual “our-hero-does-not-know-his-place-in-life-but-then-hardship-and-love-help-him-to-figure-that-out” pattern. But that is not the storyline that grabs the attention, but… everything else. Gore Verbinski uses the storyline as the skewer to stick together all the finer parts of the movie: great animation, characters, humor and Johnny Depp.
Characters in Rango are almost alive. You start to like every single one of them, they are charismatic, funny and much more lovable than, say, the toys from the Toy story. Rango, pondering about his life, Beans, giving a fight to get the water back to the town, old Mayor, Rattlesnake Jake – the positive characters are charming in their clumsiness, negative characters are charismatic in their evilness. It is even hard to single out the character that would be a “supporting actor” only; they all play their important part in creating the festive mood. Even the plastic fish!
But it is easy to figure out the character who is outperforming the rest: Johnny Depp as Rango is mind-blowing in his coolness. He actually makes the lizard live on the screen, giving him his habits and facial expressions. It is those little intonations that always make the difference, and Depp nailed them perfectly.
The third component of the success is the humor. Starting with the quartet of the “story-tellers” who keep predicting the death of the main character and finishing with some cliché jokes about cowboys in the Wild West. It is a top-notch parody, which has a go at the Star Wars, Pearl Harbor, and, in the moment of self-irony by Depp and Verbinski, the Pirates of the Caribbean, to name only few. The jokes are nice, sometimes involve black humor but are always funny.
The final component is the animation. The characters move so smoothly and naturally, they are so detailed, you can actually see every strand of wool, every piece of dust. This definitely compares favorably with the Tintin plastic-headed clumsy characters which move like they are from the computer game from 90s. In Rango, every bit of the world is drawn with laser-sharp precision, so that at times it feels like a full-scale feature film.
VERDICT: Humorous and charming, probably the best animation in 2011.
WATCH: with or without kids, but with clear intention to relax and laugh a bit.