Rango ****


Running time: 107 mins  Certificate: PG

Synopsis: A pet lizard (Johnny Depp) falls out of a car in the desert, and becomes a sheriff in the town of Dirt. Dirt’s water-supply is controlled by a turtle mayor (Ned Beatty) and his gang. Rango must uncover the conspiracy, before the community will be destroyed forever.

 

Gore Verbinski has re-teamed with his old Pirate pal to make a CGI animated movie like no other. But unlike previous efforts this is definitely more aimed at an adult audience. In fact it could easily be described as Pixar on acid.

The animation developed and brought to life by effects house ILM is absolutely breathtaking. They have even managed to bring on veteran cinematographer Roger Deakins as a consultant for the lighting. 

The composition is made up from motion capture performances by the actors. It is quite ironic that after years of Depp giving chameleon like turns, he actually gets to become one. This may also be his best performance in years giving lots of emotion and expression to a rather odd looking character.

The story appears to have been lifted from the classic movie Chinatown. Even the mayor character is a deliberate reference to John Huston’s character in the same picture.

The film is full of film references mainly old Western movies. The Spirt of the West is clearly Clint Eastwood in The Man With N Name role, while Bill Nighy’s villain Rattlesnake Jake is based on a mixture of Lee Van Cleef and Jack Palance.  Even Raoul Duke and Dr Gonzo make an appearance are the start. 

Mix all these ingredients with a soundtrack by Hans Zimmer and Los Lobos and the end result is one of the best CGI animated films ever made. While the story may not be original, the look of the characters and the overall visual images make this something very special.

 

Reviewed by Paul Logan

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