Saturday 12 March 2011

Rango Review - Depp-initely Worth Watching

This latest A113Animation Review is on a film that I couldn't make head nor tail of, Rango. The film just opened this weekend here in the U.K. and after some positive reviews I was anxious to see it!

The trailers for Rango sent somewhat mixed messages, they looked really funny, interesting, sporadically deep; yet also... not groundbreaking. In this portrayal of the film, the trailers were rather accurate.

Rango comes from Nickelodeon Movies a company renowned for films that range from mediocre to terrible - Rugrats Go Wild, I am Number 4 and The Last Airbender -, however I can happily say that Rango is leagues better than the rest of Nickelodeon's resume combined! However the actual animation was handled by Industrial Light & Magic, a special effects company best known for their work on the Star Wars films. This is ILM's first attempt at branching out into the feature film market for animation and it is a phenomenal one.

You can see ILM's years of experience in special effects and the attention to the minutest detail, as there is so much detail present in Rango. The various characters have various looks, ranging from scaly to hairy, and all are exquisitely beautiful. It is a kind of animation I don't think I recall seeing, the characters looks totally cartoony and stylised, but the details on them look photorealistic. Spoons in particular - my favourite character in the film - looks absolutely astonishing. I honestly can't do the fantastic animation in Rango justice, ILM have definitely found a new niche.

However, beautiful and breathtaking animation counts for nought if the film's a bad film; a well animated bad film is still a bad film. However, Rango has tonnes more aspects that make a great film great. Namely, and in massive accordance with the fantastic and luscious animation, the characters. Arguably the most important aspect of a film is it's characters, if a film has a great, inspirational story but you don't like the characters, you don't root for them and thusly the film suffers, Rango has no such problem.

The characters in Rango are all brilliant. They're funny, interesting, deep and - most importantly - likeable! Particular notice in this film has to go to, as it should in any film, the main character; Rango is a brilliant character, you really feel for him. He has a moving back story, he's got a likeable personality and he's just generally brilliant, he's wonderfully oblivious.

The aforementioned wonderful characters are driven by a tour de force of acting talent, these include: Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine), Ned Beatty, Alfred Molina and Bill Nighy. A fantastic cast that is brilliantly led by the oh so versatile Johnny Depp; Depp displays so much character, heart and emotion through his voice, and helps the audience like Rango even more. Depp's voice acting here is masterful, however a lot of credit needs to go to the film's villain as well, the Mayor. Voied by Ned Beatty, in his second ever animated film roll (after playing Lotso in Toy Story 3), the Mayor is a brilliant villain, so convoluted and quite far from the norm and, as is to be expected, Beatty delivers so much passion to the roll, almost moving the mayor to on par with Lotso in terms of brilliance of villainy. There aren't any undeveloped or weak characters here in Rango.

However, that being said there is an area that I take exception to; the love story. Don't get me wrong, I really like the main female protagonist, Beans, she's a very strong female lead, she's tough, yet she's got a sad and interesting background, always a potent combination! However, there is very little, if any, reasons visible, or even significant changes in feelings between the two, as to why Rango and Beans fall for one another, they just sort of... do. Both characters are really strong, but their joint story is fairly weak. It's just lazy!

As previously stated, apart from characters, story is the most important aspect of a film and in Rango the story is good, but predicateble. It's a fairly formulaic film and you can pretty much predict the ending after 10 minutes of the film. There's nothing groundbreaking about Rango's story, bu it's by no means a bad one. The film is surprisingly deep, you really feel for the characters and the film has a great moral about finding yourself and accepting who you are, as opposed to changing who you are, just to impress others. The film also manages to pull off symbolic messages about plundering our resources and about civilisation being a selfish thing. So whilst the story, isn't anything greatly new, it is still a really good one.

Another fantastic aspect of the film, is that it's funny. Really funny. Not by being overtly over the top, but just through some good ole fashioned physical comedy - not that there's not some good one liners -, it was a brilliantly funny film. Rango is definitely a whole family pleaser with it's mix of humour and depth.

As hitherto mentioned, the story's nothing groundbreaking but it's definitely better than a heck of a lot of other films' stories.

The focus in Rango, rather than breaking the mould or changing the formula, seemed to be the actual film, in the literal sense of the word. Whilst the characters were great and the story was reasonably deep and emotional. The main star of the film is the way it is, if you'll forgive the simple tautology. The direction of the film, the animation, the action scenes etc... are all breathtaking and able to rival any special effects in a live action film (obviously due to ILM's experience in the area), it is honestly some of the finest execution of this I have seen in any film, animated or otherwise!

All in all, I loved Rango. Definitely not the greatest or most innovative film of all time, but at the same time also definitely better than a lot of the filler that takes up the animated slate nowadays. I would heart wholedly reccomend Rango, it's story's not fantastic, but the characters are. The film is worth seeing for the animation alone!


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