Updated: Dec 22, 2019
Rango is a chameleon who finds himself at a frontier town called Dirt. He has to step up and play the role of the much needed sheriff.
What happens when you combine the wild west, talking animals and a little bit Johnny Depp - you get Rango (2011)!
Severely underrated and overlooked, Rango is a unique experience. A film that is simultaneously a satire, a western and a comedy. Rango immerses its audience in a gritty and ugly Western town and director Gore Verbinski expertly mocks every typical Western trope as we follow the misfit Rango.
Rango delivers in almost every department, with some of the most detailed and thoughtful animation ever put to film. It is not meant to look clean and polished. In fact, it aims to do exactly the opposite. No character brings the visual appeal animation films are often known for. Instead, we get disfigured, mangled, ugly creatures whose design portrays some unique aspect of their character.
Every character, even the ones in the background, has a unique story. These intricately designed characters enrich this film through the little details; every disproportionate face, every wacky voice and every song sung by the owl mariachi band. All these characters add to the lore of the world created by the film and are not there to simply fill space and look pretty.
What really shines through is the influence of real-life Western movie characters on the animated animal characters in Rango. This is a refreshing departure from the sugar-coated, fuzzy-faced, squeaky-voiced characters of many animated films today. From drunkards to bandits, heroes to villains, Rango presents characters with fragments of the typical Western, whilst still maintaining elements of fantasy.
Rango presents characters with fragments of the typical Western, whilst still maintaining elements of fantasy.
The score also helps immerse viewers into the world of the wild west. Hans Zimmer once again seamlessly adapts to a genre, this time to a spaghetti Western. He expertly combines the typical Leone era Western scores with a feisty Spanish edge.
The film also manages to embed typical Western scenes in it’s set - from the multiple bar sequences to the epic action-packed Canyon chase scene. The dusty, drought-affected town resembles that of any Western movie setting, but the film still manages to do this without losing the charm of an animated movie.
Rango brings to the screen epic action sequences that are difficult to find in many animated films. Perhaps one of the more iconic scenes in the film, the Canyon chase scene is masterfully designed and choreographed. The sequence is laced with tension, each moment builds to the next, progressively becoming more intense. There isn’t a loose moment, every character adds to the action, the sequence almost belongs in a Mad Max movie. Verbinski artfully crafts a sequence that brims with excitement and energy, pushing the film into the next gear and leading to its final and highly gratifying final act.
Through unconventional character design, a powerful score and impressive action sequences, Rango pushes the boundaries of what an animated film can be.