Rango(released March /11) features the voice talents of,among many others,Alfred Molina,Ned Beatty,Bill Nighy,Harry Dean Stanton and of course Johnny Depp.Depp takes the lead voice as the chameleon who takes on the Rango name and ultimately becomes the unwitting hero in a town that badly needs one.The film is not a release from a major animation studio like Pixar but made/financed through Nickelodeon & GK films,along with Blind Wink.However it has every bit the quality of any other animation studio going and is beautiful and rich in its detail.
The film opens as a chameleon is standing in a terrarium,acting out a strange play with inanimate objects that surround him.This is definitely an animal without a life.Suddenly his whole world changes as a sudden stop sends his terrarium crashing onto the hot black tar road,where he is left abandoned.There he meets up with an armadillo who has recently been run over,evidenced by his middle,which has been flattened to the road.The armadillo is a sage of sorts who offers the chameleon some words of advice in his quest for his true self.
the chameleon makes it across the road to the desert,where he wanders until he meets an iguana driving a wagon called Beans.She takes him to the town of Dirt.In Dirt water is like gold and the populace there long for the day when it becomes plentiful as it once did.In the local saloon,he has a confrontation with a tuffy there and he adopts the name of Rango from then on.He is also given the job of Sheriff by the towns mayor,a tortoise.It seems the mayor thought he could control Rango,but Rango takes his position with the utmost seriousness.
The only source of water left in town is in the bank vault.One night Rango intercepts two prairie dogs digging to get into the bank,caught far short,out in the street.Not twigging on to their real intent,Rango ends up giving them the proper equipment along with the proper digging permit.Next day the water has disappeared out of the bank vault(no surprise),and Rango organizes a posse to find them.
They all end up underground following a huge water pipe.This eventually brings them to the home of the prairie dogs and the huge water dispenser that was stolen.It turns out the dispenser is empty.Someone got to it before they did,but who? More detective work takes them near Las Vegas where the valve from which the underground pipes lead to,has been turned off.It seems the mayor and his cronies who have been running Dirt for years,have been hoarding the water for themselves and using it as a control carrot on the rest of the townspeople.The valve is turned back on and before you know it the entire town and surrounding area is water saturated for the first time in years.The mayors control,and life,comes crashing down around his ears and Rango becomes Dirts hero.
Deft in script and animation,the film does start off rather slowly as we start to learn about this strange actor wanna be/chameleon.Once he hits the desert,the film picks up considerably and never stops until the end.There is alot of humour here that would go over the head of youngsters and as it comes in at 111 minutes in length,I doubt whether the younger set could sit still long enough to stay with this film.There are alot of neat touches though like the Mariachi Owl band that comes in and out of the film,singing of Rango and his imminent death,and Rango's meeting with the Man with No Name or the legendary Spirit of the West.This is,of course,Clint Eastwood's famous character(voiced by Tim Olyphant).He is dressed in his Man with No name regalia from his 60s movies,with a metal detector in hand and driving a golf cart with his OSCARS in the back!Now I know there are few if any younger than twenty years old that would get that reference.
Technically speaking the film is clear and crisp,the animation just awesome and it is in its original w/s a/r.Extras include a featurette on the real denizens of the desert,the original theatrical and extended versions and 10 deleted scenes.In point of fact,the deleted scenes here are just those extras from the extended version.
All in all a recommended animation charmer.Depp is wonderful as the lead lizard here,and the world of Dirt and the intrigue of the films plot,keep you interested from the moment he enters the town to the end of the film.Above all the animation is superb.