We all know characters who experience an identity crisis. “Who am I?”
Rango is your classic lizard in a glass box who fancies himself a thespian–the hero. The one problem is that the hero doesn’t know his motivation. In fact, before the movie really gets going, we aren’t even sure if the lizard has a name. He lives in a tank with a small pool of water and a couple plastic friends, but when his road tripping owners swerve to avoid some roadkill, he is sent flying and the adventure begins. He finds himself in a vast desert where water is valuable currency.
After wandering for a day, he encounters Beans, a ranch owner, who takes him into town. Dirt is a modest western town down on its luck. The bank has almost run dry and even the kids are tough gun slingers. Deciding to finally become the man and the hero he wants to be, the lizard creates the character of Rango and wows a whole saloon with his fearsome tales. Suddenly he finds himself sherif and protector of the water. This leads to mysterious thieves, fighting giant rattlesnakes, and a high speed chase involving rodents on bats.
The animation in Rango is undeniably brilliant. Just when we thought that Pixar was going to hold the lock on blockbuster worthy, pristinely gorgeous animation forever, Paramount in the form of Nickelodeon comes out with this number and sweeps us all away. Its win for animation is definitely deserved, and possibly a statement to throw Pixar down a rung or two.
Rango himself is voiced by Johnny Depp, who is always a classic with brilliant comedic timing. I enjoyed his depiction of the character. In fact my favourite scene in the film is when he creates the character of Rango for himself in the saloon.
Despite these two wonderful aspects of the film, there was little else about it that I enjoyed. The beginning had immense promise, but once it got past his accidental killing of a hawk that vaulted him into the (not so coveted) position of sherif, it went downhill quickly. It was predictable, long, and meandering. It almost felt like it was trying too hard to be too many things. When the film isn’t even two hours long but can’t hold your attention for half of it, it is not competing with the generally engaging story telling of Disney Pixar‘s masterful creations.
I wanted so much to be a fan of Rango. The beginning had me hooked–an animal stuck in a cage and wondering “who am I?” is hardly original, but at the same time I saw the promise and loved it. But like I said before, once he was sherif, they didn’t do enough with the story and let the beginning fall to waste. If it wasn’t for this blog, I wouldn’t have finished the film.
Rango deserves the two stars because of the beginning and the animation, but otherwise the story and characterization needed a lot of work. I might encourage you to watch this film just in case you disagree with me, but otherwise it isn’t something I will actively seek out to watch again.