Movie Review – Rango

Plot: When a pet lizard is thrown from his owner’s car, he winds up in the gruff western like town of ‘Dirt.’  Going by the name ‘Rango’ (Johnny Depp), he poses as a courageous and tough hero, becoming the town’s Sheriff.  Rango is assigned to protect the town’s small water supply, their only means of survival.

Rango is the definition of an uneven film.  There are moments of greatness, but unfortunately, these moments are overshadowed by boredom and an excruciating slow pace.  The animation in this is downright stunning.  It’s really holy shit incredible.  The character design is gorgeous.  The desolate setting is a thing of beauty.  But much like Avatar, the great visuals get old and we’re left with characters that are as dry as the film’s desert setting.

The first five to ten minutes are fantastic.  It’s funny, thoughtful, and deeply delves into the character we come to know as Rango.  Everything about the first action scene was incredible, from the expression on Rango’s face, to the sound of breaking glass.  Right off the bat, I thought I was in for a great movie.  Unfortunately once Rango is let loose alone in the desert, the film drags on for what seems like eternity. 

The heavy dialogue scenes just go on for way too long.  Every time Rango meets a new character, they engage in a boring conversation that is just not funny or interesting.  With the exception of Johnny Depp and Isla Fisher who voices Beans (the love interest), every single voice in here sounds exactly the same.  It’s that droning and gruff voice that you hear in most westerns.  It makes those heavy dialogue scenes even worse.  The best moments in this film are when Rango is by himself and its dialogue free.

In fact, there’s a scene towards the last third of the movie where Rango is alone that genuinely got to me and was emotional to watch.  It’s a self reflection moment for Rango, and the director (Gore Verbinski) just nails it.  It was that much more impressive, because the movie for so long had been a yawn fest, so the fact that it was able to bring me back to caring is really saying something.

The only character I did care for was Rango.  Beans also has a distinctive personality, although there’s this quirk with her character where she randomly freezes.  It’s really annoying and it’s not sufficiently explained.  There’s also a bad ass snake (Bill Nighy) that comes in towards the second half whose tail has a cool gimmick.  Other than that, every other character is forgettable.  And the problem is we spend the entire middle of the film with a ton of characters who are all the same and interchangeable.  The story is fairly interesting, revolving around the value of water, but because the majority of the characters are so bland, I couldn’t get into it.

There really are a lot of good things surrounding this film and it’s got some cool action scenes to be sure, but it’s missing real substance.  I love the first scene, and even though the end brings me back a little, it still moves at a snail’s pace.  It’s also not very funny.  You’ll never hear me complain about an animated film being taken seriously with a dark tone like this one, but this could have used some more jokes.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10 (Slightly better than ‘meh’) 

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