I proudly present to you the second film from this week's "Tuesday Double Feature" outing! I know this film is nearing the end of its theatrical run, but I wanted to ring on it anyway.
CAUTION! SPOILERS AHEAD!
Since I kinda liked how it worked for my "Hanna" review, I will post the film's premise (according to The Internet Movie Database):
Rango is an ordinary chameleon who accidentally winds up in the town of Dirt, a lawless outpost in the Wild West in desperate need of a new sheriff.
So, here's my question: "Did the film live up to that statement"?
On the acting front, while Johnny Depp does a splendid job in his nuanced performance as the protagonist lizard, the supporting cast (in particular Ned Beatty, Isla Fisher, Alfred Molina, Abigail Breslin, Stephen Root, Ray Winstone, Harry Dean Stanton & Timothy Olyphant in a HILARIOUS cameo) also turn in strong performances as their respective characters. However, I will present my Scene-Stealer Award to Bill Nighy for his delightfully devilish "Rattlesnake Jake".
Now, let me ring in on an issue cited by Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly in her review of this film. Basically, she says that the characters in the film are "Jar Jar Binks ugly". However, I must register a note of profound disagreement. Since this movie primarily takes place in the Mojave Desert, wouldn't it make sense to use animals that you would typically find there as a baseline for designing the characters? When you view the film through that prism, making Rango as a chameleon is an inspired choice, particularly because he represents not just the outsider, but "city folk" as a whole. Another reason to ponder: Don Knotts (in particular his Barney Fife character on, "The Andy Griffith Show") was an inspiration for the titular lizard's character design.
Now let's look at things from a production standpoint. Gore Verbinski (known primarily for the Pirates of the Caribbean movies) was an excellent choice to direct this film, mostly because he knows a thing or two about putting an interesting spin on a period film (the film's editor Craig Wood, also worked on the Pirates movies.) The film also has the added bonus of paying homage to a LOT of period films, in particular Clint Eastwood's Spaghetti Westerns, High Noon and in an interesting twist, Chinatown.
This film was a joy for me to watch from start to finish. While it will prove to be a great visual spectacle for younger audiences, only longtime film fans will truly appreciate the comedic value of this film. Looks like I have another solid contender to my "Fantastic Four of 2011".
~Totoro (Creator, Executive Producer)