42. Rango (2011)

Comical Chameleon Crisis

Directed by: Gore Verbinski
Written by: John Logan
Starring: Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher and Timothy Olyphant

3D animations that have been making us cough up a few extra bucks can hang their heads in shame as visually brilliant 2D Rango walks into our cinemas, and proves that it only takes original characters, a clever plotline and a superb band of vocal talent (including the likes of Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher and Bill Nighy to name a few) to quench our dying thirst for entertainment that is actually worth every penny.


Serious identity crisis

Rango follows the adventures of a no-name chameleon who finds himself in the middle of an existential crisis, in a town called Dirt in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but his instinctive improvisation skills to keep himself alive and loved (and named… “Rango”). With a major water shortage endangering the lives of Dirt’s inhabitants, and Rango crowned as the town’s new hero after a lucky feat with a hawk, what eventuates is an unpredictably hilarious comedy that nods to a variety of classic Westerns and other great films, whilst still maintaining an oddball sense of originality and playfulness that never runs dry.

The creative strength of Rango, however, doesn’t just rest in the clever re-working of conventions typically found in the Western genre. Gore Verbinski (director of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise) takes the audience for a wild visual ride through his endlessly inventive choices in the heights, angles and colours that drive Rango’s action, leaving behind the excess of CGI we usually find in 3D (as seen in Verbinski’s Pirates) and running towards funny chase sequences that mimic Star Wars and Apocalypse Now, and abstract visions that border on the surreal and bizarre. And even if you don’t pick up on the witty references to other films or enjoy the deep philosophical ruminations of a chameleon, the sheer energy and excitement embedded within the drawings are visually glorious enough to make you appreciate its clarity and superb entertainment value in contrast to a lot of the predictable plots and annoyingly convoluted action we see in most other animations that leave us disappointed. So brand the name Rango into your arm and be sure to catch it before it rides away into the sunset (meaning, DVD shelves).


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