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Wick's Review

Created Mar 07, 2011 09:05PM PST • Edited Feb 28, 2014 05:35PM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Good 3.0

    A Toy Story knock-off inspired by classic Westerns, Rango is populated with reptiles and rodents instead of toys. Unfortunately its uncuddly creatures aren’t especially relatable, even though they’re in recognizable human dilemmas a la Pixar’s playthings.

    Rango’s larger problem is a story that wears out its welcome by the end of the first reel. It’s not that more delights don’t await, it’s that they occur randomly between stale bits in a cloyingly cliche tale.

    Johnny Depp delights consistently, fortunately. Voicing a chameleon with no name, he incongruously lands in the dusty town of Dirt, where he assumes a nom-de-Western. Say it loud, say it proud. RANGO!

    From Dirt he conducts a random walk past every imaginable stereotype Рa sole brave Sheriff, injustice over water rights, even a Carlos Casta̱eda-inspired shaman. Such a Western melange makes for lots-o-bits, many of them legitimately funny. If only they cohered into an emotionally engaging story populated by relatable characters. Avoiding clunky humor would also help.

    Rango does have charms, making it more enjoyable than not for families and post-modern Western fans. Faint praise? Yep.

  3. Very Good 3.5

    Johnny Depp exercises the full range of his vocal personalities, by turns beguiling, boastful, fey and manly. While his female fans may stay away because Depp’s pretty-boy mug isn’t part of the picture, his charisma comes through loud and clear. Bravo.

    The rest of the large cast can’t hold a candle to him, with the notable exception of Timothy Olyphant’s dead bang Clint Eastwood knock-off. While there are other solid performances, they tend to get buried beneath the animation, especially since many of the characters are lizards and rodents, creatures whose facial expressions barely mimic those of humans.

  4. Male Stars Really Great 4.5
  5. Female Stars Good 3.0
  6. Female Costars Good 3.0
  7. Male Costars Really Great 4.5
  8. Good 3.0

    The final straw keeps getting dropped, again and again. Cartoons since the golden age have used this device, yet it’s never seemed more cliche or wearing than here.

  9. Direction Good 3.0

    Gore Verbinski can now lay claim to being a hugely creative director, and not just a director of a hugely successful series. While the Pirates of the Caribbean movies are certainly creative, the rest of Verbinski’s career was nowhere near as successful creatively or commercially. Rango puts that criticism to rest.

  10. Play Barely OK 2.0
  11. Music Very Good 3.5
  12. Visuals Great 4.0

    The film looks great. The light is often amazing. The facial expressions however fail to track the dialog, a problem with all CGI but especially severe here, perhaps because of the non-anthropomorphic characters.

    Much has been made about how the movie eschews 3D and is all the brighter for the omission. Yep.

  13. Content
  14. Tame 1.3

    Our hero Rango manages to kill the occasional predator. Still, the movie could have benefited from some more violence, given how tedious the empty threats and bold talk became by the third reel. Would that doom it to PG-13? Perhaps, but it’s already a bit too faux-scary for little tykes anyway.

  15. Sex Innocent 1.0
  16. Violence Fierce 1.6
  17. Rudeness Polite 1.3
  18. Supernatural 4.0

    The story about purloined water had more promise than it delivered, especially because the logic of how the water was robbed made little sense. Such reality strictures normally don’t matter in an animated comedy, but here became one more straw on the movie’s camelback.

  19. Circumstantial Supernatural 3.1
  20. Biological Fantasy 5.0
  21. Physical Supernatural 3.8


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Mar 10, 2011 12:53PM

Regarding Wick’s Review
Thanks for the review. I had been looking forward to seeing this, but may wait for it on DVD now.