starring Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Timothy Olyphant, and Bill Nighy
directed by Gore Verbinski
screenplay by John Logan
Paramount Pictures (2011)
The only thing more mesmerizing than seeing Johnny Depp on the screen would have to be seeing Johnny Depp in lizard form on the screen. Well, with Rango, prepare to be mesmerized.
Rango (Johnny Depp) has a pretty luxurious life as far as pet lizards are concerned, but when he falls out of the family car while driving across the desert, poor Rango has to find his way home before something decides to eat him--like that really big bird up in the sky. After averting death's clutches, he winds up lost in the desert, and led to the Old West kind of town by an iguana named Beans (Isla Fisher). Beans is trying to find out what's happening to all the water, which is the currency for the town. Rango through a comical turn of events that has him killing the same hawk he escaped at the start of the movie, winds up the town's new sheriff and is put on the trail to find who is stealing the water.
The whole movie was apparently motion captured with the actors acting out the scenes and then having the animated characters painted over their performances. It sounds like a convoluted way to go about it, but the result has each character exuding the characteristics of each actor, rather than simply having the voice. Johnny Depp, as usual, is at his oddball best. It is really easy to recall his roles as Jack Sparrow or Hunter S. Thompson when you see him in this one. For a guy who sometimes comes off as taking himself way too seriously in interviews, the guy has a real knack for the wacky.
The cast is stellar. Not only do you get the names listed at the top, there, but there's also Ned Beatty, Ray Winstone, Harry Dean Stanton, and Alfred Molina. I don't know how much most animated movies cost, but I wouldn't be surprised to find out a hefty chunk of the $135,000,000 budget went to hiring the cast. The rest of that budget had to have gone to the incredibly work they did with the virtual set design. The arid backdrop, set outside a modern day Las Vegas, with sweeping action scenes and brilliant character designs were all some of the best I've seen in the recent glut of animated movies.
I think fans of westerns would really enjoy this, and would probably be a great way to get little kids caught up in the genre. I mean, if they can handle the Wicked Witch of the West they can probably cope with a rattlesnake with a Gatling gun for a rattle.